Innovative Debt Financing to Close Digital Access Gap

Innovative Debt Financing to Close Digital Access Gap

Geneva, Switzerland, September 14, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The World Economic Forum and the EDISON Alliance announced the publication of a Guidebook to Digital Inclusion Bond Financing to increase awareness and encourage innovative debt financing to address inequality and digital deserts and accelerate investment in digital inclusion.

Business, government, and civil society recognize the societal and economic imperative to invest in digital inclusion is vital to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Digital inclusion bonds can have a pivotal impact on building a more prosperous and equitable world.

The Guidebook illustrates the process for issuing digital inclusion bonds; appropriate use of proceeds; evaluating projects for investment; conforming with applicable market frameworks for sustainable and social financing, including the International Capital Markets Social Bond Principles; and reporting and independent verification that performance targets or KPIs are being achieved.

A World Economic Forum Agenda Blog co-authored by Verizon Communications’ Bill Horton, and Vista Equity Partners’ Burke Norton explores further the topic.

Burke Norton, Senior Managing Director, Vista Equity Partners says: “The innovative and sustainable financing frameworks that have been successfully used to date can be leveraged to meet the global challenge of digital inclusion, potentially unlocking hundreds of billions of dollars of investment capital. Digital inclusion bond financing can enable commitments to digital inclusion projects and KPIs that may relate to broadband infrastructure and affordable access, digital skills training, financial inclusion, and access to quality healthcare and education, among other priorities.”

Bill Horton, Senior Vice President, Verizon Communications Inc. says: “As part of its mission to accelerate digital inclusion, the Alliance strives to help unleash substantial financing to fund digital inclusion projects at scale, across all sectors, and to equip policymakers with tools, datasets and evidence-based recommendations related to digital inclusion. The EDISON Alliance is publishing today a Guidebook to Digital Inclusion Bond Financing to increase awareness and understanding, and encourage the use of innovative debt financing to address inequality and digital deserts and accelerate investment in digital inclusion”.

Isabelle Mauro, Head of Digital Communications Industry, World Economic Forum says: “With 3.6 billion people still not online, the pandemic has sharply highlighted the need to bridge the digital divide global to offer equal opportunities to all. There is a tremendous opportunity for businesses, governments, NGOs, and investors to invest in digital inclusion and all the economic and social benefits that it brings, including increased financial inclusion and prosperity and access to quality healthcare, education, and other services. The EDISON Alliance has been looking at new innovative financing models to raise capital, including guiding organizations on best approaches to issue bonds that will fund digital inclusion at scale.”

The EDISON Alliance is a global movement launched in January 2021 by the World Economic Forum to boost digital inclusion. It brings together leaders from the public and private sectors from different industries to harness the potential of affordable and accessible digital solutions, ensuring that we don’t leave anyone behind in the digital economy.

The EDISON Alliance is a unique opportunity for industry and governments to jointly scale existing initiatives, empower policymakers through leading practices, and pioneer innovative financial models to unlock capital at scale and ensure everyone gets online. 

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