Incofin invests USD 4.7 million in Series A round of the Indian financial services provider Namdev. This investment is done from the recently launched Incofin India Progress Fund (IPF).

Jaipur-based Namdev Finvest Private Limited (Namdev), was founded in 2013 and has rapidly established itself as one of the leading non-banking financial companies in North West of India. The company focuses on impact lending to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and has presence in rural and semi-urban areas in the northwestern region of India. Namdev services currently more than 13,000 borrowers and aims to reach 100,000 clients in the next five to seven years. Founder and Managing Director of Namdev, Jitendra Tanwar labels this investment as a milestone for Namdev: “We are glad to partner with a world class impact investor as Incofin IM. The funding from IPF will strengthen our organic expansion plans. We would leverage Incofin’s strategic and deep impact support in our mission to provide affordable and qualitative financial services to our clients.

Aditya Bhandari, Regional Director Asia for Incofin comments: “Namdev provides a rare combination of deep social impact, a solid management team and a strong balance sheet. This is our first investment out of our new India focused equity fund IPF. India’s growth story depends largely on tech-enabled solutions for MSMEs and in-turn for rural prosperity. We are pleased to collaborate with Namdev in its vision to support first-time borrowers and women entrepreneurs in rural India.

Incofin has a strong presence in India with two local offices (one in New Delhi and one in Chennai). Besides Namdev, current investments in India include Sohan Lal Commodity Management (agri-to-finance integrated group), SAVE Solutions (one of the largest business correspondent networks), Faircent (largest peer-to-peer lending platform) and Light Microfinance (leading microfinance company focused on rural women entrepreneurs).

Today is the day humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year. More sustainable agriculture can be a powerful lever to push the date of Earth Overshoot Day.

Agriculture takes a big bite out of earth’s natural resources.  It is the leading source of pollution in several countries, with pesticides and fertilizers that are released into water and soil. Agriculture also accounts for a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. 17% through direct agricultural activities and an additional 7-14% through land use changes. Finally, it consumes about 70% of the planet’s fresh water and approximately 80% of all threatened terrestiral bird and mammal species are imperiled by agriculturally driven habitat loss.[1]

However, sustainable agricultural practices can contribute to a more efficient use of resources and reduce the environmental impact of agricultural activities on the planet, while increasing productivity to meet an increasing food demand of humanity.

At Incofin, we partner with producer organisations and small and medium agricultural enterprises that implement social and environmental good practices to support sustainable agriculture in developing countries. We aim to contribute to the development of a fair and sustainable agricultural sector, but also to address the financial needs of smallholder farmers by providing better access to capital and to sustainable markets, while providing a fair return to investors.

In addition to our investments, Incofin also develops and manages, in partnership with the client, projects to strengthen sustainability practices. These technical assistance (TA) projects enable to explore innovative agricultural practices, to expand organic production and to develop circular economy models within organisations to make a more efficient use of resources when producing food.

Cooperativa Cafetalera ”Capucas” Limitada (COCAFCAL), Honduras

Coffee production

907 smallholder producers

Period TA-project: 2016-2018

Removing the coffee bean from the cherry through the process of wet milling generates a significant amount of wastewater and coffee pulp. Typically, these byproducts go unused. Under the worst circumstances, wastewater is discharged into nearby rivers and coffee pulp is left in fields to rot. Incofin’s TA helped Capucas design a system whereby 100% of the water and pulp generated by the wet mill is used to create organic fertilizers for members, creating a closed-loop production system that reduces impact on the local environment.

Impact achieved:

  • 22,000 liters of water reused in 2018
  • 200,000 kilos of coffee pulp reused
  • 5,300 smallholder farmers using organic fertilizers.

 

COOPFAM, Brazil

Organic coffee production

TA-project: ongoing since 2019

To improve the performance of organic plantations and maintain the minimum quality required by the buyers, it is key to ensure the good quality of seedlings. The production of healthy and well-developed seedlings is an extremely important factor for any crop and especially for those of perennial character, such as coffee. COOPFAM members used to buy seedlings from external suppliers which was costly and not entirely suitable for organic agriculture since the trees were mixed with conventional types. Through a TA project, COOPFAM has been establishing nurseries where the farmers produce seedlings and which, through economies of scale, will generate the best socio-economic benefits for them and for the cooperative.  

Impact achieved so far:

  • Increase of certified organic members from 120 to 167 in 2020
  • 7 technical facilitators trained to provide high quality advice on the cultivation of organic coffee trees, incl. production of organic compost
  • 176 producers trained in the production of organic coffee seedlings
  • 23 nurseries for organic seedlings established with more than 150.000 organic seedlings produced and planted in the farmers’ plots 

 

[1] https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/c49f1a94-en/index.html?itemId=/content/component/c49f1a94-en

 

The Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences has affected the operations of Incofin’s investees. Nevertheless, Incofin’s agRIF-fund fulfilled also in 2020 its impact mission and acted  as a catalyst for the impressive outreach done by its investees. Even a pandemic didn’t make our investees less committed to their impact mission.
agRIF in numbers

agRIF in numbers

The mission of agRIF is to enhance financial inclusion in the agricultural value chain, with a special focus on smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs. By investing in financial intermediaries, producer organisations and agri-businesses with financial and social objectives, agRIF aims to support the development of the local communities in a socially and environmentally sustainable way.

The Covid-19-measures drove economic activity into a halt, resulting in people losing their jobs and seeing their incomes cut. Small and microentrepreneurs, also in rural areas, were among the economic victims of lockdowns. 2020 has not only been a real stress test for the financial side, but also for the way businesses interact with their workers, customers, shareholders and the wider community. One might expect that the way our investees treat their clients came under stress.

It turns out that the investees of agRIF honoured their commitment to the client protection principles with flying colours. The audit score on client protection principles remained with 88.9% impressively high. This figure may not say that much in itself, so let us compare with a relevant benchmark. The CERISE’s SPI4 ALINUS database contains over 430 recent audits of microfinance institutions across the globe, and offers an adequate point of comparison. The average client protection score in the database is 71%, while agRIF portfolio companies score 89%.

 Database CERISE
agRIF
TOTAL SCORE71%89%
Adaptation of services67%81%
Prevention of overindebtedness75%87%
Transparency on products71%93%
Market-based pricing81%96%
Fair practices with clients75%89%
Confidentiality of client data69%92%
Complaint resolution mechanism60%84%

The results show that agRIF’s investees outperformed the industry’s average, which is in line with the social mandate of agRIF to promote businesses which comply with high standards of social performance management and client protection principles.

Incofin announces the successful first closing of the Incofin India Progress Fund (IPF) with USD 60 million of commitments. The fund will make private equity investments in the Indian agri-food value chain and in financial inclusion for rural entrepreneurs in India. The committed capital comes from a diverse set of private and institutional investors including Korys, CDC, Proparco, the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO), the SDG Frontier Fund, the King Baudouin Foundation and several Belgian family offices. 

India as an impact investment destination holds great promise. It is a country with an aspirational, young population (86% of the population is younger than 55 years) focused on enriching their lives through hard work and entrepreneurship. At the same time, the country faces serious challenges like inequality (gender, education, family wealth) and a lack of technology,  organised supply chains, and access to capital. Although 65% of India’s population lives in rural areas, private equity investments have largely focused on urban companies. As a result, many budding entrepreneurs fail to realise their full potential.

The Incofin India Progress Fund (‘IPF’) will grant these promising entrepreneurs greater access to patient capital, a global network and information. The fund will create improved economic opportunities for promising entrepreneurs in the financial inclusion and the agri-food value chain sectors – two industries which make the deepest socio-economic impact in the country.

“The modernisation of the agri value chain in India is an underinvested opportunity with significant potential for rural impact and for creating meaningful enterprises. We are grateful to our investors for enabling us to execute this investment strategy.” – Rahul Rai, Partner Incofin IM.

Incofin IM also benefits from a decade long strong Indian footprint with successful growth capital investments, in Fusion Microfinance, Annapurna Microfinance and Save Solutinos among others, with local teams in Chennai and New Delhi.  Korys, the family office of the Colruyt family, a leading food retailer in Europe, is an expert in the operational food value chain with over 50 years of retail industry experience. Korys has significant downstream experience in the agri-food sector and will provide additional support for networking with European retailers and consumer markets.

Besides Korys, the first closing of the India Progress Fund also brought together other investors with high impact mandate, including CDC, Proparco, BIO, the SDG Frontier Fund and King Baudouin Foundation amongst others.  IPF hit USD 60 million in commitments at this first closing, and the intention is to achieve total capital commitments of USD 80-100 million in subsequent closings.

“Over the last 13 years of being present in India, Incofin has first-hand practical rural market experience. Success from microfinance shall be carried forward to the large unmet missing middle. IPF shall back entrepreneurs aiming to challenge the status quo, in the process to transform from informal to formal market setup.” – Aditya Bhandari, Partner Incofin IM.

Loïc De Cannière, founder and chair Incofin IM: “We are convinced that strategic partnerships between large corporates with a genuine focus on sustainability and impact fund managers backed by investors with an impact mandate are the way forward to achieve tangible impact on the ground.”

Hari Subramanian, Partner India of Korys: “Korys sees a good match in the objective of the India Progress Fund with our principles of sustainability. For a vast population in India that still has no access to basic financial services, this fund can make a meaningful difference in the lives of the farmers and rural entrepreneurs and bring a substantial improvement of the agri food value chain. I am positive that with broad exposure of Korys and in-depth experience of Incofin, this collaboration will make a significant impact in the small and medium enterprises.”

“Eradicating hunger and malnutrition,” according to Luuk Zonneveld, CEO of BIO, “is one of the great challenges of our time. So, in order to feed a growing world population and to contribute to food security, especially of the poor, BIO is a dedicated investor in agriculture, agro-industry, and agroforestry. BIO supports a whole range of entrepreneurs along the complete agriculture value chain, from producers to consumers. This has the extra benefit of creating jobs and kick-starting the economy. That is why BIO gladly participated in this newly created India Progress Fund.”

 

About the Incofin India Progress Fund (IPF)

The IPF is a private equity fund investing in high impact sectors, managed by Incofin India Investment Management and Incofin Investment Management.  It is Incofin IM’s first country focused fund and will target financial inclusion of the underserved/underserviced end customer and sustainable development of the food and agricultural value chain in India.  The fund invests through private equity in companies with high social performance management practices that also generate a positive and measurable impact for their end clients.

 

About Incofin Investment Management (Incofin IM)

Incofin Investment Management is an independent emerging markets focused impact investment fund manager, focused on financial inclusion, the agri-food value chain and safe water, driven by a purpose to promote inclusive progress.  Incofin IM is an AIFM licensed fund manager and has over EUR 1 billion in assets under management.  Incofin has a team of more than 70 professionals spread over its headquarters in Belgium and local investment teams in India, Colombia, Kenya and Cambodia.

As a leading impact investment firm, Incofin has invested (via equity and debt financing) over EUR 2.7 billion in more than 320 investees, financial institutions and SMEs in the agri-food value chain, across 65 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and Eastern Europe.

www.incofin.com

 

About Korys

Korys is the investment company of the Colruyt family. Today, it has more than EUR 4.5 billion of assets under management. Besides holding a significant participation in the Colruyt Group, a leading retail company in Belgium and France, it actively manages participations in privately held companies and in private equity funds. Korys has also set up proprietary funds to manage its portfolio of listed investments. Across its activities, Korys’ investment decisions are taken with a long-term perspective and on basis of strict economic (Profit), social (People) and ecological (Planet) criteria. Korys aims to create sustainable value in three major ecosystems: Life Sciences, Energy Transition and Conscious Consumer. To do this, Korys can count on a motivated team of 30 professionals based in Belgium and Luxembourg.

www.korys.be

 

About CDC Group

CDC is the UK’s development finance institution with over 70 years of experience of successfully supporting the sustainable, long-term growth of businesses in Africa and South Asia. The company has investments in over 1,200 businesses in emerging economies and a total portfolio value of GBP 5.8bn. CDC is funded by the UK government and all proceeds from its investments are reinvested to improve the lives of millions of people in Africa and South Asia.

www.cdcgroup.com

 

About Proparco

Proparco, the private sector financing arm of Agence Française de Développement (AFD), has been working to support development in Southern countries for 40 years. It plays a key role in AFD Group and the French cooperation mechanism: financing and support for projects led by companies and financial institutions in developing and emerging countries – from SMEs to regional banking groups, including microfinance institutions.

www.proparco.fr

 

About the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO)

BIO is a Development Finance Institution that supports private sector growth in developing countries. BIO provides long-term financing to enterprises, financial institutions, and private infrastructure projects, as well as grants for feasibility studies and technical assistance programmes. BIO operates as an additional partner to financial institutions and aims to maximise both development impact and return on investment. BIO is a member of EDFI (European Development Finance Institutions) and has more than 1 billion Euros of assets under management.

www.bio-invest.be

 

About SDG Frontier Fund

The SDG Frontier Fund is a close-ended, self-managed private equity fund of Funds, focusing on SME’s across sectors in frontier markets of Africa and Asia to promote job creation and sustainable economic growth. In its first closing the SDG Frontier Fund has partnered with nine institutional and private investors, including AG Insurance, Belfius Insurance, vdk bank and King Baudouin Foundation. The SDG Frontier Fund already approved investments in African Rivers Fund III, the Excelsior Capital Vietnam Private Equity Fund, and the Ascent Rift Valley Fund II.

https://www.bio-invest.be/en/sdg-frontier-fund

 

About King Baudouin Foundation (KBS)

The King Baudouin Foundation’s mission is to contribute to a better society in Belgium, in Europe and in the world. The Foundation is an actor for change and innovation in Belgium and Europe, serving the public interest and increasing social cohesion. It seeks to maximise its impact by improving skills in organisations and for individuals. It also stimulates effective philanthropy by individuals and corporations.

https://www.kbs-frb.be/

Incofin advised Invest in Visions disburses USD 18 million to Khan Bank in Mongolia. Through an extensive branch network and a digital platform the bank brings financial access to every corner of the country. During these challenging times for Mongolian entrepreneurs due to the pandemic, Khan Bank has only increased the support for them.

Through a network of 547 branches Khan Bank provides financial services to retail clients and micro, small and medium enterprises in even the most remote areas of the country. Small entrepreneurs struggle in Mongolia with a lack of financing, especially in rural areas. The pandemic has further exacerbated the situation.

Khan Bank, servicing over 2.5 million clients, acknowledged the challenges for their clients during this pandemic and took several actions to alleviate their problems.

A good example is Faro Consulting LLC, a language academy founded in 2015 by two young entrepreneurs. They received their first Khan Bank in 2018, which they used for the office and classrooms. The academy teaches simple yet effective methods to easily memorize English words, and offers preparations courses for English tests such as IELTS. Thanks to their unique teaching method, the sales increased; they repaid their loan and today 30 employees work for the language centre. Since the start of the pandemic Faro had to adapt and all courses moved to an online platform. Khan Bank helped them out with a second loan to support their day-to-day operations in a time when they needed it the most.

Bavlai Erdenedelger, the Deputy CEO of Khan Bank expresses how welcome the investment of Invest in Visions is. “Supporting our MSME clients during this unprecedented time is critical for Covid-19 recovery, creating jobs and boosting our economy. With this loan facility, Khan Bank is better positioned to address the long term financing needs of our clients and to strengthen their resilience. It is also a testimony for the good governance of the Bank and for the established trust of Incofin and the Invest in Visions-fund.” 

The bank supported small entrepreneurs even before the start of the pandemic with non-financial assistance, such as training opportunities and business consultation. Since the start of the pandemic, Khan Bank saw the needs rising and intensified their efforts. One of the new initiatives was the launch of an online forum, where entrepreneurs can connect with consultants for marketing and financial advice.

 

An Indian farmer will soon just need to take a picture with his smartphone to receive a few instants later a reliable quality analysis of the seed or grain in his hand. After four years of research, the Indian agri technology company SLCM wants to launch the mobile application by the end of the year. The Technical Assistance Facility of Incofin agRIF fund (agTAF) and the Smallholder Safety Net Upscaling Programme (SSNUP) free up more than EUR 125,000 to support SLCM with the development and roll-out of the application.

Sohan Lal Commodity Management (SLCM), one of Incofin’s partner organisations in India, offers technology-driven warehousing services such as scientific storage for agriculture commodities, fumigation, testing and certification in India and Myanmar. This is the first time that an Indian entity in the warehousing sector gets technical assistance support of this size. SLCM was selected for the grant from among a host of other contenders after a rigorous selection process. SSNUP points at the innovativeness of the initiative as the main reason to free a budget for SLCM: “The use of artificial intelligence technology to disrupt the warehouse market by correcting information asymmetries and reducing transaction costs will benefit not only smallholders households, but the overall value chain, thus, improving the ecosystem.”

A promising app

The app will enable the trader or farmer to check the quality of crop seeds on a smartphone or tablet. The results would be 90% as accurate as a lab test. The app can be used for food grains and pulses like wheat, rice, chana (chickpeas), guar (cluster beans), moong and tur (pigeon peas). It will take the user only to take a picture of the seed and the app provides just some seconds later a quality report, based on parameters like height, length, grid, colour and pattern. The app, the result of four years of intensive research by SLCM’s in-house experts, is planned to be rolled out by the end of 2021.

At a time when the world’s second-most populous nation has targeted to double its farm income over the next couple of years, the development and use of the app could generate momentum for the adoption of digital technology throughout the Indian farming ecosystem.

Sandeep Sabharwal, CEO of SLCM commented: “This grant is an endorsement of our sustained efforts to digitalise processes for the ease of our stakeholders and customers, and our commitment to modernise India’s post-harvest agricultural value chain with cutting-edge technologies.”

agTAF, the Technical Assistance Facility of agRIF fund

agTAF was launched in 2018 to foster the financial inclusion of smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs through the provision of tailored capacity building support to selected investees of the Fund. agTAF is a EUR 2 million facility jointly financed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), under the investment facility established pursuant to the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, concluded on June 23, 2000, between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and the European Community and its Member States as amended from time to time, the Société de Promotion et de Participation pour la Coopération Economique S.A. (PROPARCO), the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) and the agRIF fund.

 

About Smallholder Safety Net Upscaling Programme (SSNUP)

The Smallholder Safety Net Upscaling Programme (SSNUP) is a 10-year programme which aims to strengthen the safety nets of 10 million smallholder households in Africa, Latin America and Asia through technical assistance and investment in agricultural value chains, resulting in an improved well-being of 50 million low-income people. Funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Luxembourg Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, the SSNUP works as a facility to co-finance the technical assistance projects of impact investors active in the field. ADA ensures the coordination as well as the knowledge management component of the whole programme. For more info visit: www.ssnup.org.