Letter from the CEO
2020 was a year of extremes. For the world, the pandemic erased the equivalent of 255 million jobs. In Norfund, we did our best to support investees to protect jobs and to keep investing despite the challenges in a world of shutdowns and insecurity.
When investing in developing countries, Norfund faces challenging dilemmas and often unpredictable situations. I present a few of them here in my letter to you all.
Investing in businesses that drive sustainable development
The development of sustainable enterprises is essential to promote economic growth and reduce poverty.
Norfund’s mandate is to establish viable, profitable enterprises in developing countries that would not otherwise be initiated because of the high risk involved.
← Click on the circle to see how we work.
Norfund was founded by the Storting (Norwegian parliament) in 1997. The aim is to contribute to the development of sustainable business and industry in developing countries by providing equity capital and other risk capital and by furnishing loans and guarantees.
Every year, Norfund receives annual capital allocations from the Norwegian government. In 2020, this amounted to NOK 1 820 million. Norfund was additionally allocated NOK 25 million in fresh capital for a Project Development and Risk Mitigation facility and NOK 25 million for its Business Support Programme.
4,8 BNOK committed in 2020
Norfund’s investment level in 2020 was historically high in terms of both the total committed amount of NOK 4.8 billion and the number of investments.
Investments were broadly distributed within Norfund’s investment areas, with Clean Energy accounting for the largest portion, at NOK 1.65 billion. Financial Institutions accounted for NOK 1.35 billion and NOK 1.2 billion was invested via funds. NOK 670 million was invested in the Scalable Enterprises area, within the manufacturing and agricultural value chains.
How we work
To fulfil our mandate effectively, we focus on countries and investment areas in which capital is scarce and our development impact is likely to be strong.
Norfund is an active owner in our portfolio companies contributing with expertise and sound corporate governance – helping our investees to improve their environmental and social performance.
Companies create jobs, pay taxes and supply goods to communities.
Norfund’s investments in sustainable companies make a direct contribution to the achievement of the UN sustainable development goals – especially the goals of eradicating poverty, achieving sustainable economic growth, access to energy, gender equality, industry, innovation and infrastructure and climate action. The development effects are measured annually.
Norfund creates the greatest development effects by ensuring that its capital is constantly deployed where it contributes most.
Since its inception, the portfolio has had an IRR of 5.2% measured in investment currencies and 7.7% measured in NOK. As a consequence of COVID-19, the IRR in 2020 was -0.1% measured in investment currencies.
As companies grow and become profitable and sustainable, they are increasingly attractive to private investors. At a certain point, Norfund’s involvement may no longer be additional, and the investment can be exited. Returns and profits post exit are reinvested in new businesses where there is a greater need for our risk capital.
Norfund makes a difference
Norfund contributes to establishing viable, profitable undertakings that would not otherwise be initiated because of the high risk involved.
As of end 2020, there were 377,000 jobs in the portfolio companies. In total, the companies provided 1.8 million households with access to electricity, over 52 million clients received financial services and 5.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions were avoided.
Our Investments Areas
Norfund prioritises investments in four investment areas that are aligned with the UN´s Sustainable Development Goals. Here you can read about the financial results and development effects from each investment area.