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).

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/

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.

Incofin cvso disburses a EUR 1.7 million loan to Bina Artha, the financial institution that, through micro-loans, allows hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurial women in Indonesia to build a better future for themselves.

Indonesia is not only known for its idyllic beaches, but also for impressive economic growth rates since the Asian crisis in 1997. The economy is now part of the top 20 largest economies in the world. This growth went along with important poverty reduction, with a poverty rate at 10% in 2020, while at the turn of the century that group was still twice as large. However, there are still around 26 million people living below the poverty line. The consequences of COVID-19 – which might push between 5 and 8 more million Indonesians into poverty – is therefore a setback. It shows that economic progress is still very fragile for a large part of the population.

While Covid-19 is having a significant impact on the Indonesian economy, Incofin CVSO has at heart to support microfinance institutions (MFI) even in times of crisis. In this context, CVSO has provided a loan of EUR 1.7 million to PT Bina Artha Ventura (Bina Artha) at a time of tight liquidity management and operations stabilization efforts from the MFI. The support from its international lenders partly explains Bina Artha’s resilience during the crisis.

Bina Artha – founded in 2011 – is one of the biggest institutions in Indonesia in terms of portfolio size. The MFI brings micro-credits to more than 350,000 low-income households in rural communities – increasing financial inclusion. In Indonesia, 51% of the adult population still do not even have an account in a financial institution. Therefore, with a total population of 270.6 million, there is a huge market growth potential for microfinance.

Especially low-income women have barely access to the formal financial sector because they lack independence and education. That is why microfinance institution Bina Artha focuses mainly on women who don’t have or have only partial access to the formal financial sector.

By increasing the access to capital, Bina Artha supports the income generation of entrepreneurial women, such as Bu Sabaria Bunga Lele. I used to sell my vegetables with a cart going around from place to place. At the end of 2017, I decided to take a loan from Bina Artha and open a shop on the road side near my house. Now, I provide a wide selection of fresh vegetables, spices, dried fish and other products. The people of the community around my shop buy their necessities from my stall and lots of cars stop with people from further afield as well. Thanks to the strategic location, my store is also doing fine despite the pandemic.

Incofin cvso believes that Bina Artha is well positioned to efficiently and rapidly grow further, thanks to its business model, support from its Credit Access network and investments in technology. They have for example integrated third party payment services into their core banking system.

“Bina Artha has been very transparent in dealing with clients and funding partners and therefore continues to gain support. Incofin is a proud partner of Bina Artha, via them we can deliver our impact and open up opportunities to many Indonesians for a better livelihood”says Vuthy Chea, Deputy Regional Director Asia of Incofin Investment Management.

The regions where Bina Artha operates are in dark blue.

A Fairtrade certification brings many advantages: it ensures consumers that they are buying a good quality product in accordance with social, environmental and economic standards. Smallholder farmers benefit from a Fairtrade premium and receive a minimum price which protects them in case market prices drop. That is why Incofin assists their Congolese partner organization to acquire the Fairtrade certificate.

Incofin IM recently launched a technical assistance project with the Congolese (DRC) coffee cooperative SOPROCOPIV, an investee of Incofin since February 2020, via Incofin’s Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF). The Technical Assistance project is co-financed by the Technical Assistance facility of the FAF (TAF) funded by KFW, FMO and BIO. The cooperative, who already has the UTZ, Organic and Fair for Life certifications, expressed its strong willingness to become Fairtrade certified by the end of 2021.

The Fairtrade audit cannot be conducted on site for security and infrastructure reasons, SOPROCOPIV is part of the pilot program for “certification in special conditions“. The process will be conducted online and before performing the audit, the cooperative needs to comply with it. Incofin supports SOPROCOPIV in acquiring the Fairtrade certification by training its agronomists on the certification standards and helping the cooperative in the required documentation of processes before the audit. As a result of this project, SOPROCOPIV expects to have no less than 5,036 farmers Fairtrade certified by 2022.

Fairtrade certified coffee farmers benefit from Fairtrade premiums and receive as well the minimum price which provides a vital safety net in case the market prices drop. The cooperative will also attract more buyers and sell more quality products.

The cooperative has shown great enthusiasm and motivation since the start of the project. As of today, 3,350 farmers have been trained on the Fairtrade standards already.

”We sincerely thank the Fairtrade Access Fund through its Technical Assistance department for agreeing to accompany SOPROCOPIV in the process of Fairtrade certification. This assistance plays a great role in this process because it allows the cooperative to have an expert consultant in certification who is now supervising and training us on the different Fairtrade standards. This assistance has a positive impact because it responds to a real need that SOPROCOPIV has to certify its members in order to promote a fair trade along the whole value chain and to benefit from these advantages aiming at improving the lives of the farmers.”Jean-Marie Muhindo Malekani, President of SOPROCOPIV

 

Covid-19 crisis relief

SOPROCOPIV will be the first investee of the Fairtrade Access Fund that will be supported by the Fairtrade COVID-19 Producer Funds. Faitrade International launched the funds, co-financed by TAF, last year to meet the immediate needs of farmers, workers and their communities, while also establishing a foundation for longer-term economic recovery efforts.

Incofin’s grant will support SOPROCOPIV’s campaign to raise awareness among its members and their families on how to contain the spread of the virus. The cooperative has distributed information leaflets, washable masks and soap to its members and has sensitized them on the importance of adhering to the essential health measures. In addition, it will install water tanks in two villages that have no water access.

“The approval and execution of this project was a salvation and allowed all the members of our cooperative to benefit from some necessary kits for the prevention of this pandemic such as soaps, nose covers, water tanks in gathering places like washing stations and factories for the regular washing of hands. The project has enabled the cooperative to strengthen the capacities of its members by sensitizing them on the protection and the fight against the coronavirus. We thank the FAF TAF for this support and encourage it to support other initiatives to improve the welfare of rural farmers.” – Jean-Marie Muhindo Malekani, President of SOPROCOPIV

 

About SOPROCOPIV 

SOPROCOPIV is a Congolese coffee cooperative located in the Butembo region of North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Established in 2008 by a group of smallholder farmers, the cooperative has been growing from year to year to go from 1,408 members at its creation to 7,636 in April 2021. SOPROCOPIV is recognized as the biggest sustainably certified cooperative in the Butembo region. Its mission is to bring Congolese coffee production to a competitive level throughout the world in order to valorize the efforts of farmers by offering them the best prices and premiums for excellence through the quality certificates obtained.

www.soprocopiv.com

 

About the Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF)

Read more about FAF in the Annual Report 2020.

www.incofinfaf.com

 

Incofin will provide through the Technical Assistance Facility of the agRIF fund (agTAF) and the Smallholder Safety Net Upscaling Programme (SSNUP),  technical assistance (TA) to support Huimin in reinforcing its internal capabilities and strengthening its strategic and financial performance, thus contributing to the increase in financial inclusion among female smallholder farmers in rural China.

In the Chinese zodiac today is the beginning of the Year of the Ox. The ox is a valued animal in Chinese culture because it plays an important role in agriculture and is recognised through its hard work, intelligence and honesty. Incofin understands the importance and the needs of the agriculture sector and sees a valuable role for female smallholder farmers. Women produce more than half of the world’s food. Women reinvest up to 90% of their earnings back into their households. This money is often spent on nutrition, healthcare, school and income generating activities which helps to break the cycle of poverty.

Supporting female farmers in Ningxia, one of the poorest regions in China has been the mission of the Chinese microfinance institution Huimin since the beginning. Today, Huimin maintains one of the smallest average loan sizes in China of only USD 3,500, about one-third of the country’s GNI per capita. It has the deepest rural outreach in China, serving over 14,000 clients, all of whom are rural residents.

As a new shareholder that invested USD 2.1 million equity in Huimin at the end of last year, Incofin wants to support the company in scaling its outreach to female smallholder farmers in Ningxia. Incofin goes now a step further: through technical assistance and governance support Incofin will help Huimin adopt the global best practices in microfinance. TA is an important part of Incofin’s “Capital Plus” approach which helps to maximize the potential of Incofin’s portfolio companies to generate positive outcomes for their clients. Debt fundraising, financial management, governance enhancement and risk management coupled with the delivery of technical support to farmers are the identified priority areas to prepare Huimin for future growth. These areas are part of a broader value creation plan for Huimin, which also includes product development and digitalisation.

Incofin’s TA-project, co-financed by agTAF, SSNUP and Huimin itself, will help to reinforce Huimin’s internal capacities and to strengthen its strategic and financial performance, governance, risk management and internal audit. In addition, it will support the provision of agricultural advice to the farmers, which is considered as one of Huimin’s key strengths. This project will become essential in preparing the company for the next step on its journey towards a more inclusive financial landscape for female farmers in Ningxia. It will make Huimin more attractive for foreign debt investors which will catalyse the growth and resilience of the agricultural sector in China.

 

About the Technical Assistance Facility of the agRIF fund (agTAF)

agTAF, the Technical Assistance Facility of the agRIF fund, 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 23th June 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 the 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. More info : www.ssnup.org