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Philippines' best bank for ESG 2022: UnionBank

UnionBank

Edwin R Bautista, UnionBank.jpg
Edwin R Bautista, UnionBank

UnionBank of the Philippines took a pioneering step in July 2021 that caught the market’s attention: it unveiled a partnership with the International Finance Corp to issue social bonds to finance small business loans.

The size of the transaction – the World Bank’s IFC invested just $150 million to start – matters less than the broader significance.

The seven-year social bond, issued under UnionBank's new sustainable finance framework, was the bank’s first and the longest-duration dollar-denominated issue. Just as important, it aimed to support more than 2,000 loans to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

The MSME sector has been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. In the pre-Covid period, MSMEs accounted for more than 90% of businesses and at least 60% of all jobs. Yet loans to MSMEs only accounted for 6% of Philippine lending.

UnionBank’s president and chief executive Edwin Bautista sees the proceeds from such a bond as an innovative way for the bank to boost financing for vital sectors through its supply chain financing platform and digital technologies.

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