Incofin cvso disburses a EUR 1.7 million loan to Bina Artha, the financial institution that, through micro-loans, allows hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurial women in Indonesia to build a better future for themselves.

Indonesia is not only known for its idyllic beaches, but also for impressive economic growth rates since the Asian crisis in 1997. The economy is now part of the top 20 largest economies in the world. This growth went along with important poverty reduction, with a poverty rate at 10% in 2020, while at the turn of the century that group was still twice as large. However, there are still around 26 million people living below the poverty line. The consequences of COVID-19 – which might push between 5 and 8 more million Indonesians into poverty – is therefore a setback. It shows that economic progress is still very fragile for a large part of the population.

While Covid-19 is having a significant impact on the Indonesian economy, Incofin CVSO has at heart to support microfinance institutions (MFI) even in times of crisis. In this context, CVSO has provided a loan of EUR 1.7 million to PT Bina Artha Ventura (Bina Artha) at a time of tight liquidity management and operations stabilization efforts from the MFI. The support from its international lenders partly explains Bina Artha’s resilience during the crisis.

Bina Artha – founded in 2011 – is one of the biggest institutions in Indonesia in terms of portfolio size. The MFI brings micro-credits to more than 350,000 low-income households in rural communities – increasing financial inclusion. In Indonesia, 51% of the adult population still do not even have an account in a financial institution. Therefore, with a total population of 270.6 million, there is a huge market growth potential for microfinance.

Especially low-income women have barely access to the formal financial sector because they lack independence and education. That is why microfinance institution Bina Artha focuses mainly on women who don’t have or have only partial access to the formal financial sector.

By increasing the access to capital, Bina Artha supports the income generation of entrepreneurial women, such as Bu Sabaria Bunga Lele. I used to sell my vegetables with a cart going around from place to place. At the end of 2017, I decided to take a loan from Bina Artha and open a shop on the road side near my house. Now, I provide a wide selection of fresh vegetables, spices, dried fish and other products. The people of the community around my shop buy their necessities from my stall and lots of cars stop with people from further afield as well. Thanks to the strategic location, my store is also doing fine despite the pandemic.

Incofin cvso believes that Bina Artha is well positioned to efficiently and rapidly grow further, thanks to its business model, support from its Credit Access network and investments in technology. They have for example integrated third party payment services into their core banking system.

“Bina Artha has been very transparent in dealing with clients and funding partners and therefore continues to gain support. Incofin is a proud partner of Bina Artha, via them we can deliver our impact and open up opportunities to many Indonesians for a better livelihood”says Vuthy Chea, Deputy Regional Director Asia of Incofin Investment Management.

The regions where Bina Artha operates are in dark blue.

Incofin Investment Management invests USD 2.1 million in the Ningxia Dongfang Huimin Microfinance Corp. Ltd (Huimin) equity through its agriculture-focused fund agRIF. As a shareholder, Incofin wants to support Huimin scale their financial services outreach to female smallholder farmers in Ningxia, one of the poorest provinces of China. Additionally, the Danish development financial institution IFU joined this round of capital increase and invested as well USD 2.1 million in Huimin.

The Ningxia region faces extreme aridity and barren soil. The harsh natural environment causes slow economic development and high poverty rates. In particular, rural women in Ningxia have historically been faced with a low social status and are often confined to their housework. Despite their challenges, they are eager to be respected and integrated into society – this is where Huimin came in. Founded in 1996, Huimin was originally set up as an NGO with the mission to reduce poverty by transforming the rural female population into economically active agents using microcredit. Targeting the poorest segment of the population, Huimin’s average loan size is only USD 3,500, about one-third of China’s GNI per capita. As Huimin grew in size and in professionalism, the conviction that sustainable impact is predicated on financial sustainability and good governance became increasingly convincing. In 2007, Huimin successfully transformed into a for-profit microcredit company, while keeping intact its commitment to rural poverty alleviation.

Huimin is among the leading institutions that adapted the Grameen lending methodology to service the Chinese rural demographic. Farmer families connect with each other to create a guarantee team, and these teams in turn form a village-level credit group. Over the years, Huimin has significantly expanded its scale of operation. Through its network of 11 branches and subsidiaries, Huimin now serves over 14,000 clients, all of whom are rural residents and of which 97% are female.

The success of Huimin stems from their holistic poverty alleviation and rural development strategy, which combines inclusive financial services with non-financial activities, such as workshops on agricultural techniques, anti-desertification initiatives and cultural activities to build female clients’ self-confidence.

Dina Pons, Partner at Incofin and Shareholder Representative of agRIF, said: “Huimin’s commitment to providing inclusive financial services and capacity building activities to low-income female farmers is well aligned with agRIF’s mandate. We are pleased to contribute to the sustainable growth of Huimin and to support its efforts in scaling its impactful work.”

Long Zhipu, Huimin’s Founder and Chairman, added: “We are really happy to have agRIF and IFU onboard. To us they are strategic partners who come with not only capital, but also a real understanding of the Huimin model and a plan to help Huimin adopt international microfinance best practices.”

 

Watch here the video about the work and mission of Huimin:

About Incofin IM

Incofin IM is an emerging markets focused independent impact investment manager focused on financial inclusion, the agri-food value chain and safe water. Driven by a desire to promote inclusive progress, Incofin strives to provide the support entrepreneurs’ need in order to improve to lives of the less privileged people. Incofin IM is an AIFM licensed fund manager, advising and managing more than EUR 1 billion of assets. Incofin has a team of more than 60 professionals spread over the headquarters in Belgium and 4 regional offices in Colombia, India, Kenya and Cambodia.

 

About agRIF

agRIF is a third generation (closed-end) fund that uses private equity structures to support investment for financial inclusion in the rural sector. agRIF specifically targets 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 capital to agricultural SMEs and agriculture-focused financial intermediaries.

AraratBank has raised USD 5 million from Incofin IM-advised Microfinance Enhancement Facility (MEF) to foster the SME-sector in Armenia through its ongoing effective cooperation with reputable international financial institutions.

I am confident that this agreement will give rise to a constructive collaboration between AraratBank and MEF, and I am glad that we have the opportunity to expand the list of international financial institutions with which we work. This funding will increase the availability of financial resources for SMEs, enable them to develop and realize their innovative entrepreneurial ideas, and will increase competitiveness in this field. It is noteworthy that the SME loan portfolio of the Bank is over USD 25 million as of this date, and with signing of this new agreement this number will increase”, noted Mher Ananyan, Chairman of the Board of AraratBank.

AraratBank and Incofin work closely together since 2012. Through one of its funds, Incofin was also a shareholder of the bank until early this year. As an impact investor, we try to provide support to our clients not only in good times, but also when times are difficult. That is why we are pleased to involve MEF in this latest funding.”, commented Jan Dewijngaert, Regional Director Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Incofin.

MEF is pleased to support the dynamic growth of AraratBank, an important source of financing for the Armenian micro and small business sector, said Karlo De Waal, Chairman of the MEF Investment Committtee.

 

About the Microfinance Enhancement Facility (MEF)

MEF was initiated in 2009 by KfW Entwicklungsbank and International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group as a joint initiative with OeEB (the Development Bank of Austria). Incofin IM is an Investment Advisor to the fund. MEF supports economic development and prosperity globally through the provision of additional development finance to micro-enterprises, via qualified financial institutions. In pursuing its development goal, MEF observes principles of sustainability and additionality, combining development and market orientations.

https://www.mef-fund.com/

 

About Incofin IM

Incofin Investment Management (Incofin IM) is an emerging markets focused independent impact investment manager, focused on financial inclusion, rural and agricultural finance, the agri-food value chain and safe drinking water. Driven by a desire to promote inclusive progress, Incofin strives to provide the support entrepreneurs’ needs in order to improve to lives of the less privileged people. Incofin IM is an AIFM licensed fund manager and has over EUR 1 billionof assets. Incofin has a team of more than 60 professionals spread over the headquarters in Belgium and local investment offices in Cambodia, Colombia, India and Kenya.

 

About AraratBank

Founded in 1991, ARARATBANK OJSC is one of the leaders in the Armenian banking sector, providing the latest and highest quality banking services to both individuals and legal entities, applying cutting-edge technologies to develop banking services and creating a special business culture in bank-client relations.

 With the innovative banking technologies and best practices of corporate governance, the bank has 56 branches across the country. ARARATBANK actively participates in the real sector of Armenian economy, particularly in SME lending. ARARATBANK cooperates with 17 reputable international financial institutions.

By reporting a stable growth of financial indicators year on year, ARARATBANK takes its unique position in the banking sector of the Republic of Armenia. Despite the global challenges, the Bank succeeded in ensuring the stability of key financial indicators. Thus, as of the performance indicators in late September, total assets stood at USD 487.0 million. Loan portfolio stood at USD 296.1 million, with the share of corporate loans totalling 55․2% (USD 163.3 million) and the share of retail loans totalling 46.8% (USD 138.4 million) in the loan portfolio.

Total liabilities in the reporting period stood at USD 406.3 million. The share of borrowings from IFIs in total liabilities stood at around 31.8% or USD 129.2 million, the share of term deposits stood at 24.3% or USD 98.9 million, while the share of demand deposits stood at 21.9% or USD 88.8 million. In 2020, the Bank succeeded in reporting growth of term deposits by USD 24 million (32.1%).

Total capital reported growth of USD 80.7 million as compared to the indicator of the previous year – USD 77.7 million. In 2020, a nine-month net profit stood at USD 4.3 million. Despite the challenges in 2020, ARARATBANK managed to maintain the ratios of capital adequacy at 15.28% and total liquidity at 24.78% as of September.

https://www.araratbank.am and https://www.facebook.com/AraratBankofficial

Incofin IM, together with Triodos Investment Management, BlueOrchard, Developing World Markets, Microvest, Oikocredit, responsAbility, Triple Jump and Symbiotics signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for coordination in response to COVID-19 to support the microfinance sector.

 

Together, these nine investment originators and fund managers in impact investing have about USD 15 billion of assets under management in financial inclusion, invested in more than 80 emerging and frontier markets across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Latin America.

Measures taken locally to reduce the spread and impact of COVID-19 can affect clients, operations and liquidity of Microfinance and SME finance institutions. The Memorandum aims to coordinate efforts in the provision of ongoing refinancing in a responsible manner, thereby enabling these institutions to adequately respond to temporary changes in business conditions.

The MoU notably emphasises: “Microentrepreneurs and SMEs will form a vital basis for social and economic recovery. Supporting Financial Inclusion and preservation of the strong foundations that have been built over recent years is therefore of vital importance. This calls for enhanced cooperation within our sector. We have learned from previous experience that through transparency and close cooperation we can best help our partners and our own organizations through challenging times.”

The MoU is not legally binding but forms a strong basis for coordination over the coming months, with pragmatism, transparency and tolerance as key principles. The MoU also serves as a basis for dialogue with other stakeholders, such as multilateral and development finance banks and policy makers.

The signatories welcome additional impact fund managers to join the initiative in the coming weeks, as many have expressed interest. Strong alignment among market protagonists is the best possible way to safeguard the interests of impact investing, and ultimately the social impact and benefits that the sector offers to low income households and small businesses in low- and medium-income economies.

The international, local Cambodian and Belgian press have recently published articles on microcredit activity in Cambodia.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Cambodia was torn apart by the aftermaths of the civil war and was slowly rebuilt during the 1990s through foreign financial support.  In particular, microfinance contributed significantly to the socio-economic reconstruction of the country.

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