News

  • BIO invests in housing for Cambodian low-income families

  • 18.12.2014
  • 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.

  • BIO invests in renewable energy in Africa

  • 12.12.2014
  • 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.

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  • BIO supports microfinance in Mali

  • 09.12.2014
  • 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.  

  • Fundeser becomes financiera

  • 29.10.2014
  • 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.  

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  • Good governance and investment in SMEs benefit development

  • 24.10.2014
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    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.

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  • In-situ evaluation of BIO investments confirms their relevance, additionality and sustainability

  • 13.10.2014
  • 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).

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  • Evaluation of BIO 2014

  • 13.10.2014
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    In-situ evaluation of BIO investments confirms their relevance for development, their additionality and their sustainability

    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).

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  • New FPM SA fund to provide tailor made financing for MSMEs in the DRC

  • 26.09.2014
  • Kinshasa, 26 September 2014 – Today the first General Assembly and meeting of the Board of Directors of FPM SA (Fonds pour l’inclusion financière en République Démocratique Congo) takes place in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). FPM SA (FPM), a new Fund for Financial Inclusion will support financial institutions targeting small and medium enterprises in 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 Congolese Finance Institutions. More than 50 TA-projects have been carried out so far. FPM will benefit from capital contribution of the KfW, the German Development Bank, for about 13 Mio. USD, the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) for 8 Mio. USD, the Dutch Catholic Organisation for Relief and Development Aid (Cordaid) for 4 Mio. USD and the Belgian microfinance fund Incofin CVSO for 100k USD. The objective of the Fund is to provide over 5 years up to US$60 million medium-term credit lines to Congolese financial institutions. These credit lines will be used by the financial institutions to finance micro small and medium enterprises in DRC. Incofin Investment Management, a Belgian specialist investor in rural microfinance will act 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 in the DRC. Improving access to finance for micro, small and medium enterprises Most Congolese micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) do not have access to financial services as financial institutions are still giving priority to corporate clients. As a result of this lack of access to financial services, most MSMEs develop slowly, stay in the informal sector and are very sensitive to economic and market changes. FPM aims at supporting the development of those financial institutions with a clear mandate and strategy towards small and medium enterprises. As such, FPM will target sustainable and well-governed financial institutions including microfinance institutions, cooperative savings organizations and commercial banks serving MSMEs. By supporting the development of an inclusive financial system in the DRC, FPM will play a role in poverty reduction, job creation and sustainable economic development.

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  • Seminar on Development through Investment

  • 10.09.2014
  • Challenges and opportunities for SME development in developing countries

    BIO and the Corporate Governance in DRC Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, are organising a seminar on SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) development in the developing world on Thursday the 23rd of October 2014 in Brussels. SMEs are crucial for economic growth and job creation. However, SME entrepreneurs in the developing world face important obstacles to starting and growing their businesses. This seminar focuses on the constraints to SME development and the role development finance institutions such as BIO and private investors can play in supporting SME development. Since 2010, the Corporate Governance in DRC Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation and since 2014 also funded by BIO, awards a biannual Prize for Corporate Governance to an entrepreneur in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The prize is aimed at promoting SME entrepreneurship and corporate governance in the DRC. This year’s Prize was awarded in Kinshasa in June 2014 to Philémon Kivuvu Musul, CEO of Calmaco Sprl. On this occasion, the winner will join several important stakeholders of SME development in developing countries to discuss challenges and opportunities SMEs face today. Find out more about the program on sme-development.be