Incofin was present at the Ninth Annual Responsible Finance Forum (RFF), co-hosted by the IFC, the Germany Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and Making Finance Work for Africa. At this two-day event held in early October, Incofin became a new Signatory to the “Guidelines for Investing in Responsible Digital Financial Services”, as well as participating on the panel for Signatories to discuss the Guidelines.
This year’s RFF gathered leading investors, policymakers and practitioners to assess critical challenges in financial services in Africa, where a large number of women, rural poor and MSMEs remain financially excluded. Over 140 participants from 30 countries in Africa, including representatives from central banks and insurance regulators, took part in plenary and deep-dive sessions to explore the latest initiatives, business models in digital financing.
The Investor Guidelines (IGs) are founded on the G20’s 2016 “High Level Principles for Digital Financial Inclusion”, and were approved at the 2017 RFF. Since then, an Investor Working Group of over 30 members have contributed to developing and refining the IGs via feedback and lessons drawn from existing global industry principles and frameworks. The IGs are hosted on the RFF platform, which represents public and private sector industry partners and leaders of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) and focus more specifically on embedding consumer protection into digital financial services.
The Signatories strive to catalyze investments in responsible digital innovation and work with industry and technology leaders as partners to fine-tune evolving solutions and share emerging evidence and business models for inclusive growth. With those goals in mind, the IGs cover investors, investees, innovators and the “fintech” and broader digital financial services (DFS) industry.
Incofin was invited as an early adopter of IGs for the fast developing fintech/DFS ecosystem, given its established track record in impact investing, including debt and equity investments across Africa, and its historical leadership in related industry initiatives, such as the Social Performance Task Force.
Speaking at the IFC-moderated panel for Signatories on the increasing relevance of the IGs to investors and the role they can play in promoting responsible digital financial services (DFS), Mr. Kevin Kamemba of Incofin Africa highlighted the importance of digital finance in increasing financial inclusion especially in developing markets and the continuing challenges in terms of client protection and over indebtedness. He also discussed Incofin’s strong historical and continued focus on incorporating various Impact Methodologies in its investment process and how this has informed its decision to be a signatory to the IGs.
The IGs represent an important new forum for ensuring that responsible business practices are embedded in the rapidly developing fintech/DFS ecosystem. Incofin looks forward to actively contributing to and investing in this ecosystem by drawing not only on its investing and regional expertise, but also its years’ contributing to embedding responsible practices in the microfinance sector.
Incofin Investment Management (www.incofin.com) manages impact investment funds and is a global leader in rural and agricultural finance, driven by a desire to promote inclusive progress. It is an AIFM licensed fund manager, advising and managing 1 BN USD of assets. Incofin has a team of 45 professionals spread over the headquarters in Belgium and 4 regional offices in Colombia, India, Kenya and Cambodia.
Incofin manages the following funds:
- Rural Impulse Fund II (closed-end fund) that invests in microfinance institutions that offer financial services in disadvantaged rural areas through debt and equity investments. RIF II focuses on investments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
- agRIF is a third generation (closed-end) fund, uses leveraged private equity structures to support investments in financial inclusion for the rural sector. agRIF takes this model one step further by specifically targeting the agricultural sector and smallholder farmers, as well as rural micro-entrepreneurs. In addition to the equity investments targeted by the fund, agRIF provides debt investments in agricultural SMEs and agricultural focused financial intermediaries.
- The Fairtrade Access Fund (evergreen fund) which contributes to the development of a fair and sustainable agriculture sector. It addresses the financial and technical assistance needs of smallholder farmers by bridging the gap in working capital and providing long term financing.
- Incofin CVSO (evergreen co-operative) specialises in debt and equity investments in sectors generally accepted to belong to the impact investments universe. CVSO focuses in particular on Financial Inclusion and can make (direct and indirect) investments in companies (including SME’s) that pursue relevant impact objectives at the base of the pyramid in the areas of Food & Agriculture, Energy, Housing, Healthcare or Education. It is a cooperative fund and open to retail investors.