Environmental Finance's Sustainable Debt Awards 2024

Social bond of the year - corporate: Cogna

In August 2023, Cogna Educação, one of the largest private educational companies in Brazil, announced the first social bond to be issued within the Brazilian education sector.

The BRL500 million bond ($100 million) was described as "unique" by one Sustainable Debt Awards judge, who said it was "a rare opportunity to improve access to education for underserved communities across Brazil".

The judge also noted the "clear impact metrics to support goals, and clearly defined use of proceeds".

The use of proceeds will be directed to the operational costs (opex) of low-cost higher education  courses.

An innovative aspect of the issuance was the specific definition of a target population: investments must meet criteria for the purpose of a social vulnerability profile – the education unit must be located in small municipalities with fewer than 50.000 inhabitants and have a medium, low or very low Human Development Index (HDI) (less than 0.7).

Another criterion is that Cogna must be the only educational institution to offer at least one undergraduate course in the city, to ensure that it represents additionality to the municipality.

Cogna hopes to increase applications in courses that were previously not offered in certain municipalities. The company will report annually on the impacts of the issuance.

Cogna provides courses to more than 1.1 million students in basic and higher education.

Deal highlights

Issuer: Cogna Educação
Size: BRL500 million bond ($100 million)
Maturity: 01 August 2025
Coupon: Depósito Interbancário (DI) interbank rate in Brazil + 1.9%
Use of proceeds: Access to essential services
External reviewer: NINT
Lead managers: Bradesco BBI
Other highlights/notable features: First social bond to be issued within the Brazilian education sector