Through the COVID-19 pandemic, we continued to invest in our customers to ensure business continuity and increase their economic resilience by offering liquidity support, (working) capital, grants and guarantees. Here is a selection of our COVID-19-related investments.
The Building Prospects fund
Through the Building Prospects fund, that we manage on behalf of the Dutch government, we provided a grant of US$114,000 to WayCool Foods for the procurement and distribution of dual-purpose personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and onsite soil testing to farmers. 15,000 small holding farmers across 5 states in India will benefit from the initiative. The PPE kits help protect farmers during the pandemic and shield them during agricultural operations such as pesticide spraying. In-situ soil testing will enable farmers to get their soil health measured without having to travel, thus facilitating effective soil management while maintaining social distancing.
The pandemic put a halt to most of Cambodia’s key engines of economic growth. Microfinance institution Amret was confronted with savings being withdrawn by depositors. FMO and IFC provided a 1-year emergency facility of US$25 million dollars, so Amret could maintain enough liquidity to weather the crisis itself and continue its support for the small entrepreneurs with good underlying businesses. To help its customers survive, Amret provided a third of its portfolio a 3-month moratorium. This in turn gave them the opportunity to keep their families and communities financially afloat.
FMO Ventures Program
Smallholder farmers are a crucial part of the food value chain in India, as well as a critical element of the global food system. The pandemic brought new risks that threaten livelihoods as well as food security, while lockdowns created both a shortage of labor and equipment. FMO supported the sector in this difficult period through its partnership with DeHaat, an Indian Agri Tech platform developed by Green Agrevolution. DeHaat connects over 190,000 Indian farmers to local centers managed by micro-entrepreneurs who are supplying seeds and agrochemicals as well as providing agronomic and market advice to farmers.
The pandemic challenged food supply chains globally, but especially in developing markets in Asia, the Middle East and Africa where the disruption from lockdown measures has led to reduced food production and rising prices. In order to increase Agrocorp International’s ability to provide food to consumers in these countries, FMO and Rabobank signed a US$50 million committed sustainable borrowing base facility with them.
This spring was hot and dry which resulted in a very early grain harvest in Ukraine. On top of the pandemic, European banks have been cautious with investing in the country. This is why grain and oilseed producer and exporter Nibulon asked development finance institutions like FMO to help secure emergency funding. FMO provided US$20 million working capital to finance the continuation of Nibulon’s operations in purchasing and trading grains and oilseeds. During the pandemic, the company donated US$1.5 million for equipment and hospitals and plans to spend US$2 million more.
The COVID-19 crisis hit the Kyrgyz Republic significantly. Exacerbated by a political crisis, economic growth decreased sharply. FMO signed a US$7 million (US$3 million committed + US$4 million uncommitted tranche) senior unsecured loan with Kompanion, a longstanding customer of FMO since 2013 and the second largest bank in terms of rural outreach in Kyrgyzstan. This facility provides Kompanion a buffer as uncertainties are still high due to the pandemic. Additionally, the transaction contributes to job creation in rural areas.
FMO committed US$6 million in Fortio to support portfolio companies of Falcon House Partners Indonesia Fund I that are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund focuses on consumer and healthcare sectors, with investees in food and beverages, and retail industries more heavily hit by COVID-19. This investment is aimed at keeping thousands of jobs afloat and saving the businesses that will continue to positively contribute to the Indonesian economy. Fortio is a special purpose vehicle used as part of a COVID Liquidity Injection Plan (CLIP), while CLIP is a product created by the German development bank DEG.
The MASSIF fund
The Myanmar government ordered a lockdown over April to hamper the spread of COVID-19, resulting in the complete closure of all economic activities in the country. Consequently, liquidity in the market dried up, resulting in further deterioration of the economy. This affected food security and the lives of farmers in Myanmar. Maha Agriculture Public Company Limited is a deposit-taking microfinance institution operating in rural areas throughout Myanmar. It serves more than 40,000 clients, 93% of whom are farmers. FMO provided a US$6 million loan in local currency through the MASSIF fund, that FMO manages on behalf of the Dutch government, so Maha could continue to serve them.
The Access to Energy Fund
Through the Access to Energy Fund, that FMO manages on behalf of the Dutch government, we provided an emergency grant of €73,000 to support Frontier in the production of 5,000 face masks by training 15 tailors from the community, the distribution of hygiene packs to 250 construction workers and neighboring schools, and the drilling of 2 boreholes to provide access to clean water to a target population of 287 households. These projects were implemented within the communities neighboring Eldosol Energy, a 40 MW Solar PV Power Plant in Kenya in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by promoting hygiene standards within the communities.
The pandemic hit Costa Rican SMEs hard. Therefore, our longstanding client Banco Promerica de Costa Rica asked to repurpose US$10 million of its funding to support SMEs that need additional liquidity. As a condition to receive COVID-19 financing, these SMEs were required to maintain their workforce. Originally, FMO’s funding (US$30 million, signed in 2019) was meant for the financing of green buildings; later in the year, FMO activated an additional US$10 million uncommitted facility of which proceeds will be utilized to finance green (i.e. EDGE certified) residential construction.