A year after Incofin India Progress Fund’s first investment in SuperZop, Incofin invested a second tranche in SuperZop. The amount of the second investment tranche, after the USD 1 million investment in 2021, is USD 2.7 million (INR 20 Cr).

This first year of investment was marked as a year of growth for our Indian partners, which confirmed Incofin’s trust and the trust of all the investors of the Incofin India Progress Fund to make this second investment.

🌱SuperZop has supported in a year time + 2,800 farmers by enabling market linkages, resulting in better prices.

🌱The company successfully expanded its presence in Surat, Nashik and Raighad.

🌱The monthly orders increased by 2.4x and the number of actively ordered stores tripled.

🌱SME retailers doubled on SuperZop’s platform

🌱SuperZop delivered more than 20,000 tons of safe and high-quality commodities.

🌱Various range of products was launched (+ 100 stock units), with 30% monthly growth in its own retail brand (Khetika) for agriculture products like nuts.

 

You get to meet the Chair of Arnur Credit in this new episode of Incofin’s series on inspiring women. Incofin strives for more gender equality. First and foremost, because it is the right thing to do. And also because companies with a gender-balanced leadership outperform those that are less balanced.
That is why we started with an #InspiringWomen-series: we are introducing you to some of the most inspirational women Incofin works with. Women in leadership positions in often male-dominated contexts. 

 

Raushan Kurbanaliyeva, Chair of Arnur Credit in Kazakhstan

Mrs. Raushan Kurbanaliyeva has many years of experience in the financial sector. For the last 15 years, she has been successfully managing one of the largest microfinance organisations in Kazakhstan.

She graduated from the Kazakh State Academy of Management with a degree in Economic and Social Planning. She obtained an MBA degree – Master of Business Administration at the Almaty Management University. She holds certificates as CAP, USAID / CAMFA II “Financial services for rural areas and agriculture”.

“To achieve success, a woman must set ambitious goals for herself and divide them into sub-goals for successful and consistent implementation. At the same time, it is very important that the goals are always in harmony with true desires, and then success is guaranteed. I, as a leader, and as a woman, in the implementation of certain goals, as a rule, pay great attention to the social orientation. So, it is very important for me to implement the social mission of our company – to promote the development of small businesses of clients, create new jobs, prevent over-crediting and increase in debt burden.”

Raushan also has a long experience as a member of the Board of Directors. She is a member of the Board of Directors in the Microfinance Association of Kazakhstan, an independent member of the Board of Directors at JSC Shardarinskaya WPP; and a member of the Board of Directors at MFIs in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

“Women leaders need constant self-improvement and development of competencies, maintaining a balance between family values ​​and business. Therefore, it is very important to be able to properly manage your time.”

Raushan herself is married and is the mother of three children.

 

Roshaneh Zafar,Founder and Managing Director of Kashf Foundation in Pakistan

As CEO of Kashf Foundation, Roshaneh Zafar fights everyday to empower women entrepreneurs and helps them free themselves and their families from the stifling effect of poverty in a country where gender equality scores very low. Only 1 out of 4 women have a job in Pakistan.

Roshaneh stresses the importance of the context for gender equality. She feels she owes it largely to her liberal-minded parents that she was able to walk the path she did and that she was able to move after secondary school to the United States to study. “But most girls from my community stayed in Pakistan in that time, which was the beginning of the nineties. The parents of most of my friends didn’t allow them to continue to study. Many of them could have become excellent scientists, engineers, doctors or economists. They could have contributed to the solutions needed for the larger questions in life. They never got that chance. I am privileged and grateful for the chances I have been given.”

After finishing secondary school in Lahore, Roshaneh moved to the United States to attend the Business School in Wharton. She holds also a Master in Development Economics at Yale University. She started her career at the World Bank. After four years, she gave up the job to start something on her own. Inspired by Muhammed Yunus’ Grameen Bank, she founded Kashf.

 

Daisy Achieng, CFO of Yehu in Kenya

Daisy Achieng has been Yehu’s CFO in Kenya since 2020. Driven by her acuity for details and constant search for new knowledge to hone her expertise, she helped achieve Yehu financial sustainability by installing a remarkable financial discipline.

Daisy is a hardworking, talented woman with a plan. She started very early in her career as a leader. Great mentorship in school and later on, which she labeled as a sisterhood, supported her tremendously on her path. Whenever I faced a challenge, I could always discuss it with people in my network, she says.

She also stresses the importance of an open, supportive corporate culture that she finds at Yehu. Furthermore, a woman leader should focus on her self-awareness.To succeed as a woman in a leadership role, you should develop a personal brand for yourself and establish guidelines that will help you achieve your goals. Building a personal brand requires self-awareness and integrity: self-awareness helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and work on them. Integrity focuses on your core values and how you relate to your work.

This coupled with effective communication will help a leader build a personal brand and achieve the aspired goals. Integrity is an equally important guideline for Daisy.

Daisy is a certified public accountant and holds a degree in Commerce with a focus on Finance.

 

Fatou Dieng, the CFO Crédit Mutuel Sénégal (CMS).

Fatou Dieng has been the CFO of CMS Senegal for over a year now, after doing the same job for PAMECAS. She has more than 20 years of experience in the microfinance sector.

Although Fatou notes that in Senegal women are usually recognized for their capabilities, for example their multitasking skills, as a woman professionally, she often stood alone in a male-dominated environment. And yet successfully. After a Master in Audit, she started her career in 1998 as an accountant and climbed up rapidly. She held several management positions: Finance and Accounting Director, Audit Director in different types of organisations, ranging from a consulting firm, to financial cooperatives, and many others.

“My advice to women is to believe in themselves and in their capacities, and to work hard to achieve their goals. Women seeking leadership roles need to be confident, rigorous and resilient in their work. They should also guard independence in their decision-making.”

 

Incofin Investment Management is investing a total of USD 6 million in the Indonesian fintech Amartha, a peer-to-peer platform that connects urban investors with thousands of entrepreneurial women on the countryside.

Indonesia is undergoing a digital revolution: by 2020, 67% of Indonesians had access to an internet-enabled cell phone. This percentage is expected to increase by another 20% by 2025. No wonder that Amartha is just one of the hundreds of fintechs in Indonesia, but it is the only peer-to-peer platform focused on microentrepreneurs in rural areas. Amartha connects lenders with women entrepreneurs from rural areas who have difficulty accessing capital sources due to limited collateral, fluctuations in income or lack of a credit history.

Amartha, was founded in 2010 as a classic microfinance institution focused on women entrepreneurs. Inspired by the booming of the new financial technologies in the region and by the growing appetite from investors in the cities to fund women entrepreneurs on the countryside, Amartha decided to change its business model in 2016.

Amartha provides group-based working capital loans, accompanied by training in financial literacy and entrepreneurship. The borrowers are well known and screened by Amartha. The fintech has 480 branches throughout the country (in Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi), allowing local staff to maintain a close relationship with the borrower-client.

Jairo Espejo, Investment Manager for Incofin, explains why Amartha caught Incofin’s eye: “Amartha’s business model encompasses the best of two worlds: that of Fintech and the Microfinance model. It leverages new technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to improve its financial products as well as create new services to the end-borrowers. This is combined with the strong expertise of the business managers in the field.

Business partners and regional managers oversee loan origination and assess credit risk in the field, supplemented by insights coming from technologies such as machine learning. With a scoring system developed to assess the creditworthiness of unbanked segments of society, Amartha ensures access to capital, even without a credit history. The way Amartha uses technology will not dilute its social mission, but should just increase its impact. Since it turned itself into a peer-to-peer platform, Amartha has managed to exponentially increase its portfolio.

Today, Amartha reaches more than 470,000 entrepreneurs and aims to grow its client portfolio in the coming years. With more than 25 million women underserved financially in a country with high mobile and internet penetration, there still is a lot of growth margin.

One of Amartha’s clients is Pariyah who lives in Klaten on the island Java. When her son sent her one day some of the popular breadfruit (‘sukun’), she processed the exotic fruit into chips and sold it to her neighbours. Unexpectedly, her neighbours liked it so much that they wanted to buy more to share with their family and friends. One of those friends brought the chips to Japan, where she worked and gave it as a souvenir from Indonesia to her boss and co-workers. It became an instant hit and Pariyah started a business in breadfruit exporting every month 20 kilos of chips to Japan. Today, Pariyah runs a breadfruit snack business employing 12 employees, all living in Pariyah’s neighbourhood. The expansion of her business wouldn’t have been possible without the loans Pariyah received from Amartha. She used the money to buy land for her storage facility.

Pariyah with a bag of her famous breadfruit chips.

Pariyah with a bag of her famous breadfruit chips.

Ramdhan Anggakaradibrata, Chief Finance Officer of Amartha: “By empowering women like Pariyah with capital and digital literacy, we are promoting higher household incomes and a spread of prosperity. Since 2010, Amartha has supported more than 1 million female entrepreneurs across 20,000 villages in Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi.”

Incofin supports Amartha with debt financing through two funds that Incofin manages or advises: USD 2 million comes from the Incofin Inclusive Finance Fund and USD 4 million comes from the MEF (Microfinance Enhancement Facility).

Noémie Renier, Managing Partner Incofin Investment Management: “We are happy to start this new cooperation with Amartha and together reach out to women entrepreneurs in the countryside. This partnership will reinforce our expertise in digitalization and understanding of how new technologies can accelerate meaningful financial inclusion in the region.”

Vanilla is one of the most popular spices in the world, but vanilla farmers usually don’t benefit much from the high prices end customers are willing to pay. This concern led Incofin investing in vanilla via the Fairtrade Access Fund.

Chances are high that the vanilla flavor of your ice cream comes from the Sava region in northeastern Madagascar. Responsible for 80% of the global production of Bourbon vanilla, Sava is by far the main supplier. 70,000 smallholder farmers produce on around 25,000 hectares of  land. This is also the region where Lafaza sources its vanilla beans. Incofin’s Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF) recently approved a loan of USD 1.5 million to vanilla processor and exporter Lafaza Trading SARL (Incorporated in Madagascar). Lafaza buys premium vanilla from smallholder farming communities at fair trade prices and then sells it for retail, wholesale and through export channels. But the company has more to offer than just an interesting price to the 1,000 vanilla farmers they are working with.

Those farmers live in small, isolated villages, often requiring several days of travelling by canoe, hiking or overcoming difficult roads to reach them. That is how Lafaza makes the difference; the company does not just buy the vanilla, but also provides capacity building on proper cultivation and curing techniques to enhance the quality of the vanilla and which enables the farmers to acquire organic certification.

The production process of vanilla is very labor-intensive and delicate. It takes up to four years for a new vanilla orchid vine to begin producing flowers. They are in bloom for less than 24 hours and pollination must occur at that moment when the flower bud opens.

Incofin’s investment in Lafaza reduces further the concentration risk in the FAF portfolio, both in terms of product (first investment in vanilla) as of country diversification (first deal in Madagascar).

Children at the local library that was sponsored by Lafaza

 

 

This is the story of Ana Mamani Quispe, the story of one woman who inspired a whole community to rally around to overcome the sudden challenges. The story of many families who managed with the support of microfinance institution, to maintain their income in difficult circumstances.

Ana Mamani Quispe, 38 years old, is a client of the Bolivian microfinance institution Crecer since 2007. She lives together with her husband and son in Bravo, a village just under km from the city of El Alto. The village is located in the Interandino valley, an area that lends itself well to the cultivation of grains and fruit. Ana also earns her income from growing maize, among other crops.

When the pandemic broke out, Ana was in danger of getting into trouble. She could no longer reach her customers and she started suddenly to doubt whether she would find a market for her products. She brought herself in contact with as many people as possible via WhatsApp: friends, relatives, landlords, transporters, other farmers and middlemen. She succeeded to convince many to unite. The farmers would buy their seeds together (with the support of a credit from Crecer), and they would help each other with the shipping and selling the products. In this way she and many other farmers assured themselves of sufficient buyers. Sales mainly happened through online channels. Ana’s creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, together with the help of Crecer’s credit, helped many families to maintain their income in difficult circumstances.