New impact framework

for investing in nutritious food

COVID-19 has reminded us that in times of uncertainty and economic contraction, some industries are dispensable, but having food to eat is not. Incofin and GAIN created a unique opportunity for investors to look afresh at the food sector and to invest in local SMEs that are central to the development of a sustainable and equitable food system. N3F will equip SMEs across Sub Saharan Africa with financing and Technical Assistance to make nutritious and safe food more available and affordable.

The preparations to launch the Nutritious Foods Financing Facility (N3F) in the first half of 2022 are in full swing. In partnership with GAIN, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Incofin enters new territory.

Investment Analyst Beryl Shanylsa: “Most of the targeted investees will be new for us. We have funds with agriclients, but N3F is really targeting a specific niche inside the agriculture sector. While a lot of our agri-clients export their products, we have a specific focus with N3F on local consumption in Africa.

For instance, we are in touch with a food processor in Rwanda who produces fortified flour with a mixture of maize grains and soy beans. They service schools and hospitals to provide young children and vulnerablepeople with nutritious food. We want to cover a wide range of enterprises, going from companies active in food production, to food processing, to logistics and supply. Distributors, food storage, cold chain – we look at the entire value chain.”

The biggest challenge African SMEs in the sector are facing, is a lack of funding.

5 Dimensions

In order to achieve a high level of impact, N3F keeps an eye on the impact of its investees at every stage of the investment process.

Impact assessment at every stage of the investment process

Screening

Investment viability

Nutrition viability (food score)

Exclusion list

Impact audit

5 dimensions
Incofin’s impact framework (ECHOS) adapted to N3F

Monitoring

Annual impact audit

Based on Incofin’s proprietary assessment tool

The evaluation framework N3F uses, is based on Incofin’s proprietary assessment tool ECHOS 2.0. In addition to nutrition, there are 4 dimensions that will be evaluated in terms of impact. Each of these five dimensions, with nutrition weighted much stronger than the others, will be scored.

Nutrition
Nutrition score, food safety, nutrient supply and product properties
Gender
Amount of women across value chain, gender equality policies and practices
Environment
Food loss, recycling, environmental policies, carbon footprint
Consumers & suppliers
Stakeholder engagement, reaching out to the bottom of the pyramid
Employment
Fair employment practices, job creation rates, staff training
Afbeelding2

“The fund’s primary objective is to make nutritious food more available by promoting variety, a wider distribution and affordability.”

– Fallon Casper, Head of Debt Agri & Food, Incofin IM

Head of Debt Agri & Food Fallon Casper: “We have based ourselves on the framework we use to evaluate the impact of our agri-investees and adapted it to what is necessary for N3F. The five dimensions will assess the social and environmental performance, as well as the nutritionbased impact of its investees. It ensures that the fund takes a holistic approach to impact. 

There is a strong gender focus in the fund, which shouldn’t come too much as a surprise since gender is in fact closely linked with nutrition. For example, it is usually the mother in Sub-Saharan Africa who takes care of the children and who feeds them. If she can serve them nutritious food, they will grow up to be healthier and stronger adults. We also use the gender lens when we are looking at the company itself: whether there is equal pay for equal work. If there is any support, like rooms for breastfeeding.” 

N3F will be the first fund to explicitly focus on the nutritional quality of the crops it invests in, and also the first to measure the link of such investments to nutritional outcomes. The facility will pioneer a robust set of metrics around nutrition and food, and aims to demonstrate how investments in SMEs can increase the supply of safe, nutritious foods, and encourage more investments in the process.

"Gender is closely linked with nutrition."

“We broke the fund’s mission down into four ultimate outcomes. The fund should make nutritious food more available through wider distribution, more variety and affordability. We also want to reduce food loss, increase the supply of nutritious foods and invest in increased food safety and a reduction of contaminants during the food production. Everything the fund does, should serve those four outcomes.”