Maximum success for microfinance

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In 2006, Ferd’s owner Johan H. Andresen took the initiative to establish a private-public microfinance collaboration. Two years later the idea became reality – thanks to good helpers. The Nordic Microfinance Initiative is now celebrating its first decade by launching a new fund that has in a first phase raised NOK 840 million.

The Nordic Microfinance Initiative (NMI) can point to solid results from its first decade. By providing loans and equity investments, the company has helped many poor women in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia to build themselves a way out of poverty, and has in so doing helped improve living standards in developing countries.

Ten-year anniversary
What makes the company special is that it is a private-public partnership (PPP). This means that it is owned by both public-sector organisations and private companies

The first round of capital raising for NMI’s newest fund, Fund IV, has already raised USD 105 million (NOK 840 million). Norfund and IFU have each invested USD 30 million, while Ferd, DNB and KLP have each invested USD 15 million (NOK 125 million).

“This is a fantastic start! We will ensure we raise more money and will take care not to disappoint you”, commented Arthur Sletteberg, CEO of NMI, at the signing of the agreement for Fund IV, which took place at an event to mark NMI’s ten-year anniversary held in Oslo’s Sentralen venue on 12 June 2018.

The new capital raising means that NMI will have raised more than USD 300 million in total for its first four funds, equivalent to approximately NOK 2.5 billion. After ten years of hard work, there was therefore good reason to celebrate NMI’s anniversary, with guests attending from both Norway and abroad.

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Enduring value
Ferd is today the largest private investor in NMI.

“This work shows that it is possible to get things done, including in Norway. Personally, NMI is one of my proudest achievements. At the same time, this work is founded on the same framework and vision as Ferd, namely creating enduring value and leaving clear footprints”, comments Johan H. Andresen.

Double-digit return
Like Ferd Social Entrepreneurs, NMI’s success criteria are related to achieving a double bottom line, which is to say that both financial and social results play a role. NMI has so far been successful in this regard:

  • The company has reached 7 million customers, 96% of whom are women, through its direct investments. 73% of customers live in rural areas.
  • The company has also achieved strong results financially, with investors receiving a 10% annual return over the last ten years.

Cross-party will
NMI’s eye-catching results were highlighted by some of its owners that attended the event to mark its ten-year anniversary in Oslo’s Sentralen venue on 12 June 2018.

“This is now the most successful partnership between private and public-sector investors. Over the last ten years, the institution’s list of achievements is impressive even by international standards”, commented Kjell Roland, CEO of Norfund.

Norfund is owned by the Norwegian state and represents one of Norway’s development policy tools. It owns about one third of NMI’s Fund III and has invested a further USD 30 million (NOK 250 million) into Fund IV.

“NMI has become an important tool for making capital available to the poor. One of the strengths of this collaboration is that there is broad political agreement about it in Norway across political divides”, comments State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jens Frølich Holte (Conservative Party).

Desire to expand the collaboration
Norfund’s Danish equivalent, the Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU), became involved in 2016 when it became an owner of Fund III.

“We are proud to have been invited to be part of this collaboration, and we are grateful that you were willing to change the name from the Norwegian Microfinance Initiative to the Nordic Microfinance Initiative. I feel sure that this collaboration will strengthen our Nordic ties and will also promote our Nordic values to the rest of the world”, comments Torben Huss, Executive Vice President at Denmark’s IFU.

TEXT: Irina Lee

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