Building Financial Inclusion in Developing Countries
Abler Nordic (formerly NMI) was established in 2008 in Oslo, Norway as a partnership between the public sector and private investors. Abler Nordic invests in institutions building financial inclusion in Africa and Asia.
Norfund and IFU, the Norwegian and Danish governmental investment funds for developing countries, represent the Norwegian and Danish States. The private investors are DNB Livsforsikring, Ferd, KLP, Lauritzen Fonden, PBU, Storebrand , TD Veen and Koldingvej 2, Billund A/S.
Abler Nordic is registered with The Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway as Alternative Investment Fund Manager (AIFM). The Abler Nordic Funds are not subject to supervision from The Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway.
Abler Nordic currently has offices in Oslo (HQ), Copenhagen, Jakarta, Delhi and Nairobi.
What is financial inclusion?
Financial inclusion means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance – delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.
- Financial inclusion has been identified as an enabler for 7 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
- The G20 committed to advance financial inclusion worldwide and reaffirmed its commitment to implement the G20 High-Level Principles for Digital Financial Inclusion.
- The World Bank Group considers financial inclusion a key enabler to reduce extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.
Source: World Bank (2023)
Our Vision and Mission
Abler Nordic’s vision is empowerment of poor people in developing countries and creation of jobs and wealth on a sustainable basis.
Abler Nordic’s mission is investing in and supporting institutions providing financial inclusion to poor people in developing countries.
Abler Nordic combines existing experience in the field of financial inclusion and international development cooperation, with the capital strength and financial experience of institutional investors.
Abler Nordic’s ImpactDouble bottom line:Social and Financial results
Abler Nordic invests in responsible financial services and require all MFIs to commit to the Client Protection Standards. We prefer to invest in MFIs that have clear social objectives and work systematically to achieve them. These social objectives can both be universal or unique in nature. Prior to investing we evaluate the MFIs social ambition and its capacity to deliver on it. During the investment period Abler Nordic sets certain requirements for MFIs’ measurement and reporting to ensure that important social and financial goals are reached. This enables us to make a holistic assessment of their business. Measurement and reporting of social development also means that we can document the contribution to enhancing financial inclusion. Abler Nordic works with and promotes with important standards, e.g. the Client Protection Standards, facilitated by the Social Performance Task Force and CERISE's Client Protection Pathway and the Universal Principals for Social Performance, developed by the SPTF.
In addition to social returns, Abler Nordic is committed to achieving sustainable financial returns on our investments. Financial returns are necessary so that portfolio microfinance institutions can grow and develop their businesses, and that we are able to grow with them and maintain and attract investors. When identifying potential investments, Abler Nordic looks for companies that have significant growth potential in their local market, while being financially sustainable. Once invested, Abler Nordic works together with the management team to develop the financial potential of the company. Abler Nordic’s equity investments usually last 5-8 years. Return to investors ranges from 3% USD return to 5% USD return for our funds.
Abler Nordic has two support schemes to help portfolio MFIs achieve their social and financial goals: Technical Assistance Facility (TA) and First Loss Support (FLS).
Technical Assistance Facility (TA): Technical assistance (e.g., competence building) seeks to assure that emerging MFIs will be able to execute their business plans successfully, meet their growth and expansion targets, achieve their projected development impacts, and enable financial and organizational sustainability. The Abler Nordic TA is funded under a grant from NORAD, the Norwegian Development Agency. To ensure high buy-in and ownership of projects, the Abler Nordic TA Facility involves emerging MFIs in the project design and selection of TA service providers. The emerging MFI must also make a clear financial contribution to Abler Nordic TA-financed activities. The Facility encourages the participation and involvement of local TA service providers from regions and countries where the Abler Nordic Funds invest. This encourages and strengthens the development of local and regional expertise and know-how.
First Loss Support (FLS): Abler Nordic may offer financing in local currency thanks to a limited hedging scheme (FLS) which is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and administered by Norfund. The FLS helps the MFI to mitigate the risk of the local foreign exchange market, providing predictable funding cost. The FLS also reduces currency risk for Abler Nordic’s investors.
The Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment has invested 90 million NOK (~10 million USD) in a Climate Smart Fund set up by Abler Nordic. Through attractive loans and agricultural assistance, the climate fund will make Indonesian smallholders intensify work on their existing plots instead of clearing rainforest.
Abler Nordic’s Funds
Abler Nordic’s investments are made through the Abler Nordic Funds: Global Fund, Frontier Fund, Fund III, Fund IV, and Climate Smart Fund.
The Funds are managed by the company, Nordic Microfinance Initiative AS (Abler Nordic). Abler Nordic and the Funds are established under Norwegian law.
Global Fund invests in more mature and larger MFIs primarily through Microfinance Investment Vehicles ("MIVs") as well as established MFIs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Frontier Fund invests in young and emerging MFIs primarily through direct investments but has a few investments in MIVs that mainly have emerging MFIs in their portfolio. Investment regions are Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Fund III makes direct investments primarily in emerging MFIs, but may, in special cases, invest in MIVs that focus on such institutions. Investment regions are Southeast Asia, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Fund IV also makes direct investments primarily in emerging MFIs, but may, in special cases, invest in MIVs that focus on such institutions. Investment regions are Southeast Asia, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Abler NordicSix guiding principles
- We aim to create sustainable long-term impact with the investments we do. We do not invest where it is easiest or where risk is lowest. We invest where we believe we can achieve the biggest social impact alongside financial return.
- We believe that responsible microfinance has a positive impact through the provision of financial services in general. However, we prefer to invest in MFIs that have a clearly stated social mission that describes the positive impact the MFI aims to have on society. Therefore, we evaluate the MFI’s social ambition and its capacity to fulfil this mission prior to investing.
- We believe the best way to create sustainable long-term impact is by helping to develop well-managed, financially healthy, scalable financial institutions. Therefore, we invest in MFIs that have reached financial sustainability or have good prospects for attaining financial sustainability within the next few years.
- We wish to ensure that we and our investees do everything we can to treat clients well and protect them from harm. Therefore, we commit to the Client Protection Standards and require all investees to do the same. We also apply and require investees to adhere to standard policies on AML, business exclusion and business integrity as well as relevant national legislation.
- We strive to be fair and transparent in all dealings with investees and partners. Also, we strive to deliver appropriate financing that meets demand, clear and balanced contracts, and fair processes for resolving disputes.
- We seek to be an active investor and, when possible, take up governance positions in the board of the MFI or committees under the board. When investing in emerging MFIs, we carefully evaluate if the MFI would benefit from professional or other technical assistance that is available through Abler Nordic’s Technical Assistance Facility.
Abler Nordic’s investment principles are geographical concentration, direct investment, active ownership and risk balance.
Abler Nordic invests in MFIs in Sub-Saharan Africa, South-Asia and Southeast Asia that have both sustainable social and financial goals.
The typical candidate for investment is an MFI with targets and ambitions to expand its geographical outreach, product offering and the use of digital finance. These factors contribute to the empowerment of the poor by creating jobs and increasing welfare in a sustainable manner.
Abler Nordic prioritizes active ownership and offers a variety of instruments tailor made for each microfinance institution. By being a long-term financial partner, Abler Nordic follows the institution through different growth phases, and offers financial products in a flexible way.
Abler Nordic offers debt instruments to MFIs where the target is to finance the growth of the MFI’s loan portfolio. Debt investments are normally offered in local currencies and are often the first contact point the institution has with Abler Nordic. Debt investments are often tailor made to fit the needs of the MFI as regards to tenor and amortization. Pricing is made according to local markets and the risk profile of the MFI.
Abler Nordic has also the possibility of offering sub-debt to MFIs. The product may be structured as straight sub-debt but could also be linked with attributes closer to equity and convertibility.
Abler Nordic equity investments are preferred as a long-term financing instrument. Abler Nordic invests in MFIs that have a proven growth track record including sustainable financial and social development. In this way, Abler Nordic helps ensure the continued growth of the institution.