JPMorgan, a US-based global financial services firm with assets of USD 1.5 trillion and operations in more than 50 countries, has announced the launch of a Social Sector Finance (SSF) unit within its Investment Bank. The unit will leverage JPMorgans existing products and expertise to bring financial services to microfinance and social enterprises. The units service offering will include capital markets, structured products, and principal investments and will pursue a double bottom line strategy of both social benefits and financial returns.
The establishment of JPMorgans SSF unit is part of the firms overall strategy to increase its focus on microfinance. Head of Global Research Nick ODonohoe is leading JPMorgans efforts to further the firms Social Responsibility agenda. The new SSF unit will be run by Christina Leijonhufvud, who will report directly to Mr. ODonohoe. According to her LinkedIn profile, Ms. Leijonhufvud received a masters degree in economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science and was a former Country Director at the World Bank serving Central Asian Operations. In addition to her service a JPMorgan, Ms. Leijonhufvud also serves as a consultant for Ashoka, a non-profit organization that promotes social entrepreneurship worldwide through financial services for social enterprises.
JPMorgans new SSF unit is not the first of its kind. In September 2007, MicroCapital.org reported on the formation of a Microfinance Institution Group at Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanleys unit came as a natural progression stemming from its recent work in the microfinance industry. In March 2006, Morgan Stanley and BlueOrchard Finance, a microfinance fund investment company issued a USD 106 million bond backed by loans to MFIs. In May 2007, Morgan Stanley and BlueOrchard issued another USD 108 million equivalent in bonds to finance 13 MFIs globally.