The USD 25 million (INR 196 crore) funding round in Light Microfinance was led by British International Investment (BII) with existing investors Incofin, Nordic Microfinance Initiative and Triple Jump. Light Microfinance is one of the fastest growing MFIs in India and aims to provide responsible financial services for low-income families excluded from the financial system in India, using a strong technology platform. It reaches over 200,000 clients, exclusively women in rural and semi-urban areas.

Chauhan is one of those women. She has been a member of Light Microfinance for over five years. As the primary wage earner of a six-member family, she was in dire need of income augmentation. She didn’t start in cattle rearing, but with the first of her loans from Light Microfinance, she started vegetable farming. Eventually, her business acumen enabled Chauhan to expand. Her income increased and she has even planned to hire two employees.

This new funding will be used for geographical expansion into new states to diversify the company’s product lines and continued investments in technology and digital initiatives. Co-founder and Managing Director of Light Microfinance, Deepak Amin, comments: India continues to see a huge demand for financial services, especially in rural India as households try to recover from financial difficulties faced by them due to the pandemic and at the same time get integrated into the mainstream Indian economy. Light Microfinance aims to be a key pillar of this growth story by delivering timely, high-quality financial services to its customers.

This summer Pakistan was severely hit by a catastrophic flooding, which was described as the worst the country has ever experienced. More than 1,200 people died and more than 33 million people have been affected. The worst hit provinces are Sindh and Southern Punjab, the two provinces where microfinance institution Kashf Foundation operates. Kashf, a partner organisation Incofin has been working with since 2016, is unique in that it focuses almost exclusively on women entrepreneurs (99% of its client portfolio) in a country where women’s mobility is a major issue given existing social norms.

Incofin cvso commits USD 30,000 of its technical assistance budget for Kashf’s Flood Relief Fund, the pool of funds from various donors through which Kashf comes to the aid of its clients. The grant from the Fund will go towards relief packages: dry food, hygiene and sanitation products, bedding, clothes and basic medicines. About 25,000 women micro-entrepreneurs from Sindh and Punjab provinces will benefit from this support. Together with their family members, this number even grows to 125,000. To help its clients in the longer term, Kashf will roll out loan repayment scheduling and enable recapitalisation so that its women entrepreneurs can restore their businesses.

 

Sahyadri Farms Post Harvest Care Limited raised Rs. 310Crs (almost EUR 40 million) growth capital from a group of impact-focused investors. Incofin, Korys, FMO and Proparco see Sahyadri Farms well-placed to help farmers run their businesses in a more profitable and sustainable way.

India is a country with an aspirational, young population (74% of the population is younger than 45 years) focused on enriching their lives through hard work and entrepreneurship. At the same time, the country faces challenges like inequality (gender, education, family wealth), outdated technology, inefficient supply chains, and a lack of access to capital. The country is witnessing a strong movement towards entrepreneurship to help solve these multidimensional problems the country faces.

Sahyadri Farms is a good example of rural entrepreneurship providing end to end solutions to small and marginal farmers.

In 2010 a group of 10 farmers took the initiative to collectively produce and export fresh grapes to Europe. That initiative has grown into the leading fruits and vegetable export and processing company that Sahyadri Farms is today, servicing over 18,000 farmers, covering more than 31,000 acres and 9 crops. The company walks with its farmers from their choice of crops to the farming practices they employ, from the inputs they use to how they harvest and sell their agricultural products. The company for example offers a digital platform that informs farmers on high yield crop varieties, farm inputs, real time climate information and access to the market place.

The economic and social impact of Sahyadri for these farmers is significant. Namdeo Pawar is one of them: “In 2012, I was on the verge of selling my land. Sahyadri supported me, helped me get back up, and I pushed myself to return to work. Trough Sahyadri, my income increased. In 2014, I even repaid my bank loan.” Also for farmer Anil Dawre working with Sahyadri Farms brought about a turnaround: “I farm on less than one acre, because a part of my land is taken up by my home and an animal shed. Group farming turned out to be a success. My parents never imagined their son’s produce would travel abroad. Their joy knows no bounds.”

The capital coming from Korys, FMO, Proparco and Incofin is intended to further grow the farmers company. Sahyadri Farms wants to expand its processing capacity for fruits and vegetables-based products, set up a biomass plant to generate electricity from process waste and enhance its infrastructure, like warehouses. These investments will in turn support rural entrepreneurs working in the Sahyadri network to help overcome local challenges and make agricultural farming a viable and sustainable business.

Vilas Shinde, founder of Sayhadri

“The idea of Sahyadri Farms is to unite farmers and make them think like professional entrepreneurs. We are building a sustainable, scalable, and profitable organization for all our stakeholders by making farming profitable and viable activity for each small and marginal farmer.”Vilas Shinde, founding farmer and Managing Director of Sahyadri Farms.

Alpen Capital acted as exclusive strategic advisor to Sahyadri Farms for this transaction.

Rahul Rai, Partner at Incofin India: “Incofin feels privileged to lead this investor consortium and for its partnership with Sahyadri Farms to support their spread as a global role model of a partnership-based approach to farming that results in sustainable financial impact, climate change adaptation and inclusive growth in rural communities while creating a technology-driven, globally competitive business.”

 

 

Three years after becoming one of the founding signatories of the Operating Principles for Impact Management, Incofin is happy to release the 2022 update of its annual disclosure statement.

This statement re-affirms the alignment of Incofin’s impact management systems with the nine Principles and reflects the continuous enhancements made to our processes across the different sectors we are supporting – namely financial inclusionsustainable agriculture and safe drinking water. With 162 signatories to date, we are proud to contribute to promoting the highest impact standards within the industry. Our disclosure statement applies to our proprietary, managed and advised funds with a total AUM of USD 1.1 billion as of December 31st, 2021.

Incofin’s Operating Principles for Impact Investment disclosure 2022

Incofin Investment Management is investing a total of USD 6 million in the Indonesian fintech Amartha, a peer-to-peer platform that connects urban investors with thousands of entrepreneurial women on the countryside.

Indonesia is undergoing a digital revolution: by 2020, 67% of Indonesians had access to an internet-enabled cell phone. This percentage is expected to increase by another 20% by 2025. No wonder that Amartha is just one of the hundreds of fintechs in Indonesia, but it is the only peer-to-peer platform focused on microentrepreneurs in rural areas. Amartha connects lenders with women entrepreneurs from rural areas who have difficulty accessing capital sources due to limited collateral, fluctuations in income or lack of a credit history.

Amartha, was founded in 2010 as a classic microfinance institution focused on women entrepreneurs. Inspired by the booming of the new financial technologies in the region and by the growing appetite from investors in the cities to fund women entrepreneurs on the countryside, Amartha decided to change its business model in 2016.

Amartha provides group-based working capital loans, accompanied by training in financial literacy and entrepreneurship. The borrowers are well known and screened by Amartha. The fintech has 480 branches throughout the country (in Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi), allowing local staff to maintain a close relationship with the borrower-client.

Jairo Espejo, Investment Manager for Incofin, explains why Amartha caught Incofin’s eye: “Amartha’s business model encompasses the best of two worlds: that of Fintech and the Microfinance model. It leverages new technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to improve its financial products as well as create new services to the end-borrowers. This is combined with the strong expertise of the business managers in the field.

Business partners and regional managers oversee loan origination and assess credit risk in the field, supplemented by insights coming from technologies such as machine learning. With a scoring system developed to assess the creditworthiness of unbanked segments of society, Amartha ensures access to capital, even without a credit history. The way Amartha uses technology will not dilute its social mission, but should just increase its impact. Since it turned itself into a peer-to-peer platform, Amartha has managed to exponentially increase its portfolio.

Today, Amartha reaches more than 470,000 entrepreneurs and aims to grow its client portfolio in the coming years. With more than 25 million women underserved financially in a country with high mobile and internet penetration, there still is a lot of growth margin.

One of Amartha’s clients is Pariyah who lives in Klaten on the island Java. When her son sent her one day some of the popular breadfruit (‘sukun’), she processed the exotic fruit into chips and sold it to her neighbours. Unexpectedly, her neighbours liked it so much that they wanted to buy more to share with their family and friends. One of those friends brought the chips to Japan, where she worked and gave it as a souvenir from Indonesia to her boss and co-workers. It became an instant hit and Pariyah started a business in breadfruit exporting every month 20 kilos of chips to Japan. Today, Pariyah runs a breadfruit snack business employing 12 employees, all living in Pariyah’s neighbourhood. The expansion of her business wouldn’t have been possible without the loans Pariyah received from Amartha. She used the money to buy land for her storage facility.

Pariyah with a bag of her famous breadfruit chips.

Pariyah with a bag of her famous breadfruit chips.

Ramdhan Anggakaradibrata, Chief Finance Officer of Amartha: “By empowering women like Pariyah with capital and digital literacy, we are promoting higher household incomes and a spread of prosperity. Since 2010, Amartha has supported more than 1 million female entrepreneurs across 20,000 villages in Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi.”

Incofin supports Amartha with debt financing through two funds that Incofin manages or advises: USD 2 million comes from the Incofin Inclusive Finance Fund and USD 4 million comes from the MEF (Microfinance Enhancement Facility).

Noémie Renier, Managing Partner Incofin Investment Management: “We are happy to start this new cooperation with Amartha and together reach out to women entrepreneurs in the countryside. This partnership will reinforce our expertise in digitalization and understanding of how new technologies can accelerate meaningful financial inclusion in the region.”

After 13 years, Incofin cvso is no longer shareholder of ACEP Burkina. Incofin finalized the sale of the equity stake of 20%, which has enabled the fund to achieve an attractive return on investment. The shares have been acquired by the French impact investor SIDI (Solidarité Internationale pour le Développement et l’Investissement).

Incofin CVSO, managed by Incofin Investment Management, sold its entire 20% participation in ACEP Burkina, which has enabled the fund to achieve an attractive return on investment. Incofin cvso has been ACEP’s investor from the very start of the company. Incofin played a key role by providing additionally senior debt and technical assistance. Furthermore, Incofin has led the efforts of professionalizing the corporate governance of the company and the rollout of ACEP Burkina’s successsful expansion.

Today, ACEP Burkina is the second-largest microfinance institution in Burkina Faso by portfolio size (Gross loan portfolio of EUR 41.7 million as of December 2021) and offers a broad range of financial solutions, including loans, deposit accounts, money transfer services to SMEs, institutions and net-worthy individuals. The company serves over 32,000 customers. ACEP’s main focus are micro, small and medium enterprises.

SIDI has a similar mission to that of Incofin cvso. The French impact investor, founded in 1983, also wants to improve living conditions in developing countries and, with this acquisition, particularly wants to further promote the development of financial inclusion in Africa. SIDI already works with nine other African partners from various sectors for this purpose.