London, UK – On September 25, 2023, Near East Foundation’s Refugee Impact Bond (DIB) was certified as an Orange Bond, a major milestone as this is a first for a peace-building refugee-focused impact bond. The Orange Bond Initiative™, issued by Impact Investment Exchange Pvt. Ltd. (IIX), is the world’s first asset class built by and for the Global South and the 99% as a solution to financing gender equality. As an integral component of the Orange Movement, this initiative plays a central role in creating a world where gender equality is the prevailing norm. It’s a critical step toward building a sustainable future that champions diversity, equity, and inclusion at its core.
To qualify as an Orange Bond, the DIB must align with three overarching Principles: (1) Gender-Positive Capital Allocation; (2) Gender-Lens Capacity and Diversity in Leadership; and (3) Transparency in the Investment Process and Reporting. The review assessed the DIB and confirmed its alignment with the Orange Bond Principles. The Independent External Review Provider was the Impact Investment Exchange Pvt. Ltd. (IIX).
The Orange Bond Initiative™ Objectives:
- Building a gender-empowered financing system that works better for everyone by supporting and applying a set of global standards, indices, and performance metrics for investing in gender equality;
- Mobilizing new sources of capital for women’s empowerment at scale by providing the tools, training, and knowledge products that enable gender lens investment product development;
- Fast-tracking gender equality and women’s empowerment by using capital in ways that value women and girls as solutions to a more resilient, green future.
About NEF’s Refugee Impact Bond
In October 2021, the first Refugee Development Impact Bond (DIB) was launched in Jordan to innovatively address the funding gap while supporting scalable and more effective programs that improve the livelihoods and longer-term resilience of refugees and their host communities.
Jordan continues to host the world’s second highest per capita refugee population, falling just behind Lebanon. 66% of Syrian refugees live under the Jordanian poverty line and the majority live in urban and often impoverished communities where competition for jobs and housing has driven wages down while the cost of living continues to rise. To cope, refugees are often forced to adopt risky coping strategies like increasing their debt, withdrawing children from school, reducing food consumption, and engaging in exploitative work. While a means to an end, these coping strategies only increase their vulnerability – trapping refugees into a vicious cycle of poverty, inequity, and instability.
Given the rate at which refugee crises evolve and their far-reaching impacts, funding is often focused on short-term needs and granted annually — affording limited flexibility that makes long-term planning and sustainable impact difficult.
The DIB mechanism and its unique funding structure was launched to overcome both funding and programmatic challenges and ensure durable solutions and resilience-building for both refugees and their host communities. The program is being delivered by the Near East Foundation, and is funded by the IKEA Foundation, Novo Nordisk, and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, with upfront capital investment from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation and Ferd.
In May and June 2023, Mathematica surveyed a sample of grantees from the program’s first cohort, which was about ten months after the grant disbursal. The survey measured various outcomes related to grantees’ businesses, as well as their employment status and income from employment. Survey findings exceeded expectations: 98.5 percent of the first cohort of grantees remained engaged in an active income-generating activity.
Mathematica will survey the program’s second cohort of grantees in February 2024.
Fundraising for the second tranche of the DIB, focused on Lebanon, is underway, with an expected launch in the near future.
By focusing on lasting outcomes, empowering NEF and sharing learnings, the ‘Refugee Impact Bond’ delivers a cost-effective and transformative impact. NEF hopes it will become a template to help humanitarian actors and impacted communities better respond to the impacts of forced displacement and protracted crises.