With the issue of a 3bn-peso (US$142mn) gender bond, Mexico has joined Panama and Colombia as the first nations in the region to see the launch of an ESG-aligned financial instrument aimed at bridging gaps in women’s access to the labor market, leadership positions and financing.
FIRA, a conglomeration of four regulated public trust funds dedicated to agricultural and fishing development in Mexico, sold the gender bond to address the lack of gender equity among the workforce in the countryside.
Speaking about the rationale behind the bond, FIRA director Jesús Alan Elizondo Flores said that women have less access to credit and other financial services despite making up more than half of the agriculture workforce.
Of all agro-food production assets in the country, including farms and fisheries, only 21% are owned by women, said Elizondo in an interview with business news outlet El CEO.
FIRA issued the gender bond on Mexican stock exchange BIVA on October 15, with a 3-year maturity as part of a larger placement of three bonds amounting to 10bn pesos.
In August 2019, Panama’s second largest financial institution Banistmo issued a US$50mn gender bond that became the first in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Colombia became the second country in the region to see the launch of a gender bond in August this year, when local lender Davivienda placed a US$100mn issue.
The gender bond became the first action coordinated through FIRA’s recently launched ESG portal, a project developed with the support of Spanish bank Santander and designed to help the trusts develop financing products that set benchmarks for sustainable investment within the ESG (environmental, social and governance) framework.
As described by the IDB, gender bonds are designed to finance companies that meet any of its three objectives: that the company is directed by women, that it offers products or services for women, or that it is committed to promoting equality.
Gender bonds are subject to the same regulations as traditional bonds but they also adhere to the social bond principles established by the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) and contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, as well as being verified by external and independent organizations.