Accelerating access to drinking water with Incofin

Incofin IM and Danone are pooling capital to invest in innovative water businesses that provide affordable and safe drinking water to underserved populations. Together they aim to catalyse further growth for the entire water sector. By investing in drinking water Incofin is clearly widening its impact mandate to adjacent sectors. We talked let the investment team of W2AF, the name of the new initiative, explain why Incofin is eyeing the water sector.

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Why did Incofin decide to expand its investment scope to drinking water?

“You can be the most driven micro-entrepreneur or the hardest working farmer, but as long you do not have access to basic services, rising out of poverty and realising your full potential remains difficult, if not impossible. Recognising this fact, and given that water access is fast becoming a global issue, we started studying the WASH* sector. Today 2.2 billion people do not have access to safely managed drinking water, and yet there is less than USD 5 billion dollar invested in the sector against a requirement of USD 114 billion per year.

We have been a pioneer in microfinance twenty years ago, and a pioneer in agro-financing ten years ago, and today we want to use our experience and expertise to accelerate access to safe drinking water for all through our newest blended finance equity facility, the Water Access Acceleration Fund (W2AF).”

– Dina Pons, Partner at Incofin and W2AF Fund Manager
Why does Incofin gets involved now?

“The time for a venture into water equity has never been better. Today, public stakeholders recognize the need to join forces with private sector players and, together, provide complementary solutions: where the public utility pipe stops, why not allow a privately owned kiosk to set foot and serve more people in a responsible manner? This conversation was difficult to have a few years ago, and now it is in every water conference panel discussion. It is becoming clear that this issue cannot be tackled by the public sector alone.

– Wanjiru Waithaka, Senior Private Equity Investment Manager Africa
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Photo Antoine Raes_web

“Ten years ago, I saw a very fragmented water sector, mostly composed of small pilot testing players. Today, the market has matured. A lot of community rooted water businesses have been trialling various models and solutions for a decade now. The winners have emerged. They have the capacity to scale, and are simply in need of partnerships with blended finance funders who can understand their business model and respect their impact intent.”

– Antoine Raes, Senior Private Equity Investment Manager Asia
With this new fund, it looks like we have added Clean Water to our list of SDGs. What is the concrete impact we want to have with W2AF?

“We want to reach 30 million people with at least 20 billion litres of drinking water within the next ten years. But this is only one goal. Beyond that, across low-income countries, women and girls are typically primarily responsible for the household water supply. Providing these households access to drinking water is a key driver in achieving gender equality. In this regard, W2AF will contribute to SDG 5 on Gender Equality and comply with the 2X Challenge, the international commitment to enhance the economic participation of women in developing countries.”

– Beryl Shanyisa, Investment Analyst
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“It is also important to mention the climate dimension of W2AF. Safely managed water providers help to avoid boiling water and prevent indirectly deforestation. We are working on a climate strategy which details the way we will accompany our investees in developing climate resilience and climate adaptation strategies. For instance, we want to help them to shift to renewable energy, which will allow them to benefit from lower energy costs while being more resilient and greener. We want to set ourselves targets in terms of efficient water use, and the amount of avoided CO2 emissions. All this will contribute directly to SDG 13 on Climate Action.”

– Mischa Liang, Equity Associate

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