Kyrgyzstan issued its first-ever gender bonds on November 18. The initiative was the result of a partnership between UN Women Kyrgyzstan, Bank of Asia, Institute for Economic Policy Research of the Kyrgyz Republic, Astana International Financial Centre’s Green Finance Centre (AIFC GFC), Kyrgyz Stock Exchange, and financial company ‘Senti’.
Gender bonds are loans at a reduced interest rate designed to grow women entrepreneurs’ businesses. In Kyrgyzstan, the first bank-issuer of gender bonds was the Bank of Asia. The bonds also aim to improve the welfare and livelihoods of women, contributing to gender equality, as well as women’s rights and economic empowerment.
Ulziisuren Jamsran, UN Women Country Representative in Kyrgyzstan, highlighted the contribution of the gender bonds to the National Program to Support and Develop Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Kyrgyz Republic for 2022-2026 and the National Gender Strategy on Achieving Gender Equality by 2030. “This initiative will give special attention to women entrepreneurs from suburban and rural areas and different regions of Kyrgyzstan who can bring huge dividends to the community, as women’s economic empowerment and sustainable economic growth are mutually reinforcing processes,” she emphasized.
82,000 gender bonds worth 1,000 KGS each were put up for public auction. The period of their circulation is three years, and the total value of bonds is 82,000,000 KGS. 25% of gender bonds (20,500,000 KGS) were purchased within the first half hour of trading, mainly by the business sector. Among the first buyers were the Accumulative Pension Fund of Kyrgyzstan; Lee Jong Beck, one of the shareholders of Bank of Asia; businessperson Jumabek Salymbekov; Nadira Kasymova, CEO of World Class Bishkek; the insurance company Jubilee Kyrgyzstan, and the association ‘Dordoi’.
One of the differences between social bonds and classic bonds is that the former are target bonds, the attracted funds of which will be used for social projects, and are issued in accordance with international principles established by the International Capital Markets Association (ICMA). The Astana International Financial Centre’s Green Finance Centre, the only company in Central Asia accredited by ICMA and the Climate Bonds Initiative, carries out the verification of social bonds. For example, in Kazakhstan, 60% of green bonds and loans are verified by the AIFC GFC and received international recognition as the first in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in accordance with the Global Green Finance Index.