NEW YORK (January 21, 2014) — The U.S. Fund for UNICEF announced today that its Bridge Fund has received a first-of-its-kind commitment from Mariner Investment Group, the global asset manager, to donate five percent of the management fee it generates from its management of two newly launched impact investment vehicles. The UNICEF Bridge Fund is an innovative financial tool designed to expedite lifesaving supplies to children in places affected by natural disasters and humanitarian crises such as the Philippines.
Mariner Investment Group will join other individuals, foundations, and corporate investors who together have contributed $19 million in grants and loans to-date to the UNICEF Bridge Fund. Current institutional investors include founding investor Prudential Financial, Athena Capital Advisors, Imprint Capital, and Embrey Family Foundation. Investors fund net worth grants, below-market-rate loans, and program-related investments, creating a pool of cash that enables UNICEF to deliver essential goods to children in need as quickly as possible.
Created by the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in 2011, the Bridge Fund provides UNICEF with a flexible mechanism to reduce or eliminate gaps between the moment a critical need for supplies is identified and when funding becomes available. This rapidly available funding can also help secure better pricing for materials and reduce shipping costs, freeing up more money to spend on vital commodities.
"Children are caught in the midst of an ever-growing number of humanitarian crises—from the conflicts in Syria, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines," said Edward G. Lloyd, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. "Mariner's commitment to the Bridge Fund gives UNICEF precisely the kind of flexible capital we need to make sure medicines, nutrition, water, and sanitation supplies arrive as quickly as possible, saving lives at the very outset of emergencies, while other donors mobilize their support."
Since its launch the Bridge Fund has completed $35 million worth of program activity, including:
- Expediting funds to procure disaster relief and recovery supplies for children affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines;
- Speeding up global polio eradication efforts by guaranteeing four years-worth of pricing on oral polio vaccine supplies, which will save $10 million and enable an additional 70 million children to be vaccinated worldwide;
- Fast-tracking the delivery of lifesaving therapeutic food for 10,000 children during a deadly drought in Burkina Faso;
- Preventing the interruption of a national immunization campaign reaching 54 million children in Nigeria; and
- Ensuring essential medicine stocks in free clinics in Sierra Leone that serve nearly a million and a half children, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers
Mariner announced earlier today that it has closed on two new impact investment vehicles, the International Infrastructure Finance Company Fund, LP, a $350 million comingled fund, and Mariner Breakwater, LP, a $100 million fund-of-one, both of which are focused on risk-transfer investments designed to enable banks to increase their lending to the infrastructure sector through regulatory capital management of those assets. In further support of the social goals of its impact investment strategy, Mariner has made this first-of-its-kind pledge to UNICEF's Bridge Fund.
"In addition to our financial goals, we view this strategy as an Impact Investment, designed to free up scarce bank capital to finance new and vital infrastructure projects," said Andrew Hohns, Managing Director and Lead Portfolio Manager of the Mariner Funds. “But expanded financing alone is unlikely to satisfy the urgent infrastructure needs of less developed places. By providing a direct commitment to the UNICEF Bridge Fund, Mariner hopes to support UNICEF in getting urgent aid to children in these areas."
Through its global Supply Division hub in Copenhagen, UNICEF procures more than $2 billion worth of supplies and equipment annually, and while global funders do pay for these goods, obtaining funds can sometimes take weeks or months. The Bridge Fund provides UNICEF with cash to bridge procurement costs until regular payments become available. Bridge Fund social investors multiply their impact because their commitments revolve for re-use for up to a five-year period. Lenders are repaid at the maturity of their investment, while grants such as those from the Mariner Investment Group are used as a source of leverage to acquire low-cost social investment loans.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
For additional information, please contact:
Kiní Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2634, firstname.lastname@example.org