Incofin invests EUR 2 million in PEBCo-Bethesda in Benin. The funding comes from the Agricultural Liquidity Fund (ALF) and is a testament to Incofin’s dedication to advancing sustainable agriculture and climate resilience through financial inclusion. This resonates deeply with Benin, a country where agriculture sustains livelihoods and contributes 30% to GDP.

With more than 70% of its population relying on agriculture, the importance in Benin of agriculture cannot be overstated. Established in 1996, microfinance institution PEBCo Bethesda Benin has emerged as a catalyst for change, with a core mission to empower low-income communities, particularly women, in this agrarian landscape.

It facilitates farmers to purchase seeds and other inputs and supports the necessary investments to ensure revenue generation. This approach not only enhances the financial prospects of individuals but also contributes to the broader economic development of the populations it serves.


Comprehensive financial services

PEBCo’s efforts encompass a range of financial and non-financial services, including savings, agricultural loans, education loans and green loans for the acquisition of solar panels, among others.


Confronting climate challenges

However, Benin, like many other countries, grapples with the adverse effects of climate change. In recent years, unpredictable and erratic weather patterns, marked by floods and droughts, have cast a long shadow over the agricultural sector in Benin. It has not only imperiled food security but also jeopardized the livelihoods of countless individuals.

PEBCo has enlisted the expertise of an agricultural specialist to assist the MFI and its client sin adapting to and mitigating climate risks. This proactive approach underscores its commitment to safeguarding the interests of its borrowers and promoting sustainable farming practices.

Incofin, committed to inclusive progress and sustainable agriculture

Incofin’s debt investment of EUR 2 million in PEBCo originates from the Agricultural Liquidity Fund. The fund seeks to support actors in the sustainable agrifood value chain. This investment reaffirms Incofin’s commitment to fostering agriculture in Africa and the belief in PEBCo’s pivotal role in this endeavor.


Incofin just sold its 28% equity stake that its Rural Impulse Fund (RIF II) had in Unguka Bank to LOC Holdings, one of the leading global financial platforms for micro, small and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs).

RIF II sold its entire 28% participation in Unguka Bank in Rwanda. Since its investment in 2012, RIF II has helped the company more than double its total assets from USD 14 million to USD 29 million, growing into the largest microfinance bank in Rwanda, serving 1,685 clients.

Geert Peetermans, Co-CEO of Incofin commented: From the time we entered over a decade ago as first foreign institutional investor in the then early-stage microfinance bank Unguka, its team has consistently built out tailored services and deepened outreach among Rwanda’s rural MSMEs. We are today passing on the baton to a new strategic investor, with confidence that Unguka Bank and its spirited team have a great future ahead offering responsible financial services.”

In addition to financing, Incofin has provided technical assistance to the bank to develop an agricultural lending strategy, related products and methodologies as well as to migrate to a new, more efficient core banking management system. This was in line with the RIF II-mission to promote socio-economic development in rural areas.

Besides its lending activities (for purposes such as job creation, housing and agricultural development), Unguka Bank has made significant contributions to social protection. Through an annual budget allocation, the bank for example supports vulnerable populations by covering school fees for children and constructing shelters.

Reflecting on the journey with Incofin, Justin Kagishiro, CEO of Unguka Bank, said: “Unguka Bank is grateful to RIF II for the exciting journey we have been on together since 2012 and for the impact we have made on our customers. We see Incofin not only as a financial investor but also as a trusted partner to extend our reach.”

Commenting on the significance of the investment in Unguka Bank, Deputy Chairman of LOLC Holdings Ishara Nanayakkara said: The African region possesses immense growth potential, characterized by higher GDP growth. Leveraging on our position as a leading global player in the MSME market, we are eager to address the requirements of this population segment and empower them to enhance their standard of living. By implementing our successful MSME model within Unguka Bank, we aim to offer accessible financial products and services that effectively meet the diverse financial needs of entrepreneurs. As LOLC remains committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we actively contribute to economic development as a responsible lender, promoting financial inclusion while upholding robust client protection principles.”


About Rural Impulse Fund II

Rural Impulse Fund II is a EUR 120 million (USD 173 million) fund that was launched in 2010. The fund aims to contribute to the alleviation of poverty in rural areas by investing in microfinance institutions that have a strong presence in these rural regions.


LOLC Holdings

The LOLC Group is one of the most strategically diversified financial services conglomerates with presence in 23 countries across Asia, Africa and Australia. This extensive coverage enables LOLC to reach a population of over 1.3 billion globally, effectively catering to the needs of the underserved populations in each of its markets. LOLC is engaged in financial services, leisure, plantations, construction, mining, manufacturing and trading, digital empowerment, research & innovation and other strategic investments. As a leading player in the international MSME sector, the Group has been a catalyst in facilitating financial inclusion, whilst striving to maximise environmental benefits through green operations and processes, in line with its triple bottom line focus.


About Unguka Bank

Unguka Bank Plc ( is a Microfinance Bank which started as a Microfinance Institution and licenced by National Bank of Rwanda since 2005. Unguka Bank is licenced to take deposits from clients and grant loans, as well as other related financial services. Its 14 branches and 1 outlet are opened in the Capital City of Kigali and other 3 Provinces (North, South and West) of Rwanda; it is yet to open a Branch in Eastern Province. The Bank has been serving the population, both in rural and urban areas, women and men, as well as MSMEs operating in various economic sectors.

German Development Minister Gerd Müller announces the launch of ALF, the new initiative of the ministry with Incofin IM and German bank KfW.

The Agri-Finance Liquidity Facility (“ALF”) is a debt facility investing in sustainable agri-enterprises in mainly Africa and Latin-America, funded by KfW/BMZ and managed by Incofin IM as the Alternative Investment Fund Manager.

With a size of EUR 40 million, the facility will support actors in the sustainable agri-food value chain in developing and emerging countries to maintain their operations during and after the Covid-19 crisis.

To offset the pandemic’s negative impacts on the sustainable agricultural production sector, KfW approached Incofin IM to develop a proposal for an emergency liquidity facility initially targeted for investees of the Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF). After reviewing the proposal, it was jointly decided to expand the focus of the facility to other agri-finance lenders, principally members of the CSAF (Council of Smallholder Agricultural Finance), and their investees. This will allow the facility to be as much inclusive as possible and to generate further impact.


Covid-19 caused a drop of more than USD 500 of the annual income

Covid-19 disrupted global food systems, testing the resilience of farmers who already receive the least value for their contributions to agri-food value chains. Many farmers, forced to harvest with significantly reduced personnel, lost quality and volumes of their crops.

As household budgets shrank, the sustainability of a product lost its strength as a purchasing argument. Fairtrade sales suffered a blow. On average, this meant a drop of more than USD 500 in smallholder farmers’ annual incomes, representing a substantial impact on their household economies.


Launching video ALF

Switzerland and Luxembourg are mobilizing an overall budget of EUR 55 million to support smallholder farmers. The new ten years program, called SSNUP (Smallholder Safety Net Upscaling Program) draws on the knowledge and expertise of the technical assistance facilities of leading impact investment managers like Incofin IM.

The vast majority of low-income populations live in rural areas and essentially consist of vulnerable smallholder households who practice subsistence farming. In order to improve practices and bolster the agricultural markets in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America, the Luxembourgish and Swiss development organizations chose for a close cooperation with partners like Incofin Investment Management. Incofin is considered a reference in the field of financial inclusion and the agri-food value chain and has successfully set up several technical assistance facilities. Through this partnership, the public and private sector will co-fund technical assistance projects for the agricultural value chain.

SSNUP will be coordinated by ADA, the Luxembourgish NGO specialized in inclusive finance. It is a ten-year project of which the first phase (2020-2023) has now been officially launched. The global goal of this phase is to strengthen sustainably the safety nets of around three million smallholder households, contributing to several SDGs like for example “No Hunger” and “Gender Equality”. It starts with an estimated budget of EUR 18 million, EUR 12 million of which will be co-funded by Switzerland and Luxembourg. The remaining EUR 6 million will be pooled from the private sector and other donors.