Kinshasa, 23 February 2015 – On February 3rd, FPM SA (Fonds pour l’inclusion financière en République Démocratique du Congo) obtained the authorization by the Central Bank of Congo to operate as a Financial Company. FPM SA will be able to start financing the financial institutions that target micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (“MSME”) in the DRC. This new financial instrument will complement “FPM ASBL” which has been operating in the DRC since 2007 and focuses on providing Technical Assistance (TA) to the Congolese financial institutions that FPM SA is targeting as well. More than 50 TA-projects have been carried out so far. FPM SA benefits from capital contribution of KfW, the German Development Bank on behalf of the Federal Government, for about USD 13 Mio., the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) for USD 8 Mio., the Dutch Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid (Cordaid) for 4 Mio. USD and the Belgian microfinance fund Incofin CVSO for USD 100k. The objective of the fund is to provide up to USD 60 million medium-term credit lines to Congolese financial institutions in the coming 5 years. These credit lines will be used by the financial institutions to finance MSMEs in the DRC. Incofin Investment Management, a Belgian investor focusing on rural microfinance acts as the fund advisor for FPM SA, bringing on board its specific experience and knowledge of the financial services market for micro, small and medium enterprises.
On 9 January, the European Year for Development (EYD) was launched in Riga, Latvia. Under the motto « Our world, our dignity, our future », 2015 will become a special year, in which the development cooperation of the EU and its Member States will be presented to the European public.
On December 16th, the Board of Directors of the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) approved the new investment strategy 2015 – 2018 in line with the Management Contract signed with the Belgian State in April 2014. The Investment Strategy strongly focuses on micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises, targeting specifically those that cannot appeal to commercial financing. An important change in the strategy is reducing the number of countries BIO will be active in from over a 100 to 52. In terms of sectors,
In December 2014, BIO signed a USD 1 million loan to support First Finance, a Cambodian MFI specialized in housing. First Finance seeks to build economic stability for low income Cambodian families by increasing access to home ownership. First Finance targets financially excluded and underserved clients in urban and peri-urban areas, providing them with the possibility of becoming a home owner. The purpose of BIO’s loan is to finance housing projects with a total building cost per unit up to an amount of USD 50,000. This will ensure that the financing will be targeted to the low-income population of Cambodia.
Alongside other Development Finance Institutions such as the Dutch Development Bank FMO and the British Development Bank CDC, BIO is participating with a USD 10 million stake in the Africa Renewable Energy Fund (AREF). The USD 200 million equity fund for renewable energy in sub-Saharan Africa focusses on power generation using renewable energy resources from remote areas in “least developed countries” and “low income countries” as defined by OECD. These countries typically lack access to long –term financing, paramount to energy and infrastructure investments.
In November, BIO disbursed the first tranche of a € 1.5 million senior loan to the Malian MFI Microcred Mali. The MFI started operating in Bamako in 2013, and within its first year of operation, Microcred reached a loan portfolio of EUR 5.9 million outstanding to over 3,000 borrowers with three branches in Bamako. Microcred aims at reaching a EUR 100 million loan portfolio to 42,000 borrowers and opening a network of 10 branches within the next 5 years. The vast majority of Microcred’s clients belong to the informal sector, a group typically excluded from the traditional financial system. Microcred supports these clients not only financially, but also encourages them to formalize their business, which in turn contributes to the country’s tax base. BIO’s EUR 1.5 million loan will support Microcred’s efforts to further grow its financial services to microenterprises and SMEs and provide the MFI with a more stable and long-term source of financing.
The Foundation for Rural Economic Development Partner (Fundeser), originally a Nicaraguan NGO providing credit and technical assistance to small holders, has launched its operations as a fully-fledged financial institution, a financiera. The transformation into a financiera, regulated by the Nicaraguan Superintendence for Banks and other Financial Institutions, is paramount to allowing Fundeser to achieve greater scale and offer a wider range of services to rural populations. The transformation will allow to work in a secure environment and systematise all procedures and manuals that were not adequately developed before. The recent recognition as a financiera is the result of successful collaboration and efforts of Fundeser’s staff and management with several development finance institutes and investors, such as BIO, the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO) , the Belgian Microfinance Fund Advisor, Incofin Investment Management (IM), as well as the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Finance Corporation. BIO has been involved in providing technical assistance grants to support the transformation process: - one technical assistance project financed by BIO, FMO and Fundeser and managed by Incofin IM, was aimed at accompanying Fundeser’s staff throughout the transformation process into a regulated entity, generating the relevant capacity to support the change in the short and medium term. - a second technical assistance project co-financed by BIO focused on 3 areas: to provide Fundeser with transformation advice; implement an activity-based costing model; and implement an integrated branch management system.
Minister De Croo supportive of SME development during Seminar on Development through Investment
The Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) and the Corporate Governance in the DR Congo Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, have organised a first seminar on Thursday 23 October in Brussels on "the challenges and opportunities for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in developing countries", with an opening speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Development Cooperation Minister Alexander De Croo. On this occasion the 2014 winner of the Prize for Corporate Governance in the DR Congo, Philémon Kivuvu Musul, spoke about his experiences and defended his vision of entrepreneurship. He was one of the experts who spoke and highlighted the role that SMEs should play in development. This seminar therefore provided a concrete illustration of what a good governance project in the private sector can be, using the example from the DR Congo. Minister De Croo expressed his admiration for entrepreneurs such as mister Kivuvu Musul, who are facing huge challenges in countries such as DR Congo. “In countries where the state is failing, it is not easy to be an entrepreneur”. De Croo strongly believes in an instrument such as BIO to foster development and agrees that the strategies should target SMEs. Philémon Kivuvu Musul leads a company in the quarry sector which was founded in 2006 and specialises in the quarrying and processing of limestone in Bas-Congo province. Calmaco SPRL, which is based in Kinshasa, has grown rapidly and now employs 70 people. Above all it is managed in a socially responsible way, maintaining respect for the principles of good governance. These principles are sometimes very simple, such as paying everyone on time. Philémon Kivuvu: “That may seem obvious, but it is far from the case here. You have to put yourself in the position of a family that never knows when the money will finally arrive.” More generally, Calmaco prefers to grow at a moderate pace and has a policy of reinvesting its profits. Philémon Kivuvu also makes sure that his business is firmly embedded in the community, and his employees enjoy social benefits. The principle that means the most to Philémon Kivuvu, however, is undoubtedly transparency: “We work with open accounts. It does not matter who wants to track our cash flows. Profits, purchases, repayments… Calmaco has nothing to hide!” Before creating his business, Philémon Kivuvu witnessed practices that he found shocking: dubious financial transactions, a lack of clarity and transparency in accounting, payment of bribes etc. “These are bad habits that infect the economy, but in the end people see them as normal.” Undoubtedly Philémon Kivuvu was the right kind of person to win the Prize for Corporate Governance in the DR Congo. The Prize, which consists of an award of 25,000 euro, was created in 2010 by Belgians in the business community, on the occasion of Congo's fiftieth anniversary. They created the Prize for Corporate Governance in the DR Congo within the King Baudouin Foundation for this purpose. The Fund aims to encourage entrepreneurship in the DR Congo, according to the principles of good corporate governance and social responsibility. Encouraging entrepreneurship among SMEs therefore fits in perfectly with the aims of the Prize. Every two years the Prize gives recognition to the exemplary story of a Congolese personality to highlight these good entrepreneurial practices and encourage others. The 2014 Prize was awarded to Mr. Kivuvu Musul last June in Kinshasa. In 2014 the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) became the Fund's strategic partner and provides financial support to the Fund.
Brussels, 9 October 2014 – The Special Evaluation Unit, which is part of the FPS Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, has published the second part of its Evaluation Report on BIO. BIO welcomes this constructive report by the external evaluators which not only confirms the positive conclusions of the first phase conducted in 2013, but also demonstrates the tangible impact that BIO has in the target areas, recognizing its specific role within Development Cooperation. To arrive at this conclusion, the evaluators visited 70 clients in 9 countries and conducted an in-depth study of BIO's investment projects. The report confirms the relevance of 65 out of the 70 projects visited. Certain investments have a further positive impact at the macroeconomic level and constitute a real incentive for development in the economic zones concerned. The additionality of the interventions is also confirmed; according to the report, the projects would not have proceeded without BIO support, and this applies equally to investments in investment funds, infrastructure projects and direct investments in small and medium-sized enterprises (SME).