Business support: Strengthening ESG competence

Improving the environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of our investee companies is critical to Norfund’s sustainability ambitions.

High ESG standards are important for mitigating risk, as well as for identifying and maximising opportunities that add value to businesses.

One of the ways Norfund helps firms to achieve best practice standards is through a ESG workshop programme, which provides hands-on support and practical advice.

CDC started organising these workshops in 2010, and Norfund has been a partner and provided financial support since 2017 .

The project: Funding workshops to improve ESG performance

  • Region: Global, mainly Africa
  • Norfund contribution in 2020: NOK 852 000

The objective is to train the private equity fund managers on how to contribute to good ESG performance within their portfolio companies and to use their position as leading investors to share experiences and good practice. The workshop programme has become the largest of its kind in emerging markets, reaching a significant proportion of the private equity industry in the areas where CDC and Norfund invest, particularly in Africa.

While the initial focus of these workshops was centred on fund managers, companies in which Norfund invests directly are also able to participate. The inclusion of portfolio companies has brought diverse experiences and points of view to the table, which has led to dynamic and productive discussions. The workshops use a strong ‘learning by sharing’ approach which builds on shared experiences and uses examples from participants. Most of the participating companies have a small ESG team of one or two people, and it is useful for the participants to learn how similar challenges are addressed by other companies.  

‘We really used this training to set up a template for how to look at environmental and social considerations during screening and due diligence, and also when we’re monitoring investments.’ 

Marieke Geurts, Investment Director at Ascent.

Online training due to COVID-19 

As a consequence of COVID-19, CDC and Norfund have moved these workshops online to a virtual training programme that retains as much of the interactivity and implementation-focused learning experience as possible. Sessions are now also exploring how COVID-19 affects the ESG and business integrity investment process of fund managers. For portfolio companies, the training focuses on using the ESG management system as an essential tool for navigating changing social and environmental dynamics during the pandemic.

The role of Norfund’s Business Support

Through Business Support, Norfund provides ESG workshops in collaboration with CDC and Agri-Vie, which are open and free of charge to all relevant personnel in our portfolio companies. CDC started organising ESG workshops in 2010 and Norfund has been a partner and provided financial support since 2017.