Financial inclusion

Lack of access to finance is regarded as the most important constraint to the development and growth of businesses in low-income countries. Contributing to increased financial inclusion is a key priority for Norfund. 


New clients served by direct investments

billion NOK

Increase in lending to clients by direct investments

Development Rationale

Inclusive financial systems provide businesses and individuals with greater access to resources to meet their financial needs, such as capitalizing on business opportunities, investing in homebuilding or education and managing unforeseen circumstances. 

Norfund’s investments in financial institutions contribute directly to SDG 8-10 and 9-3.

In low- and middle-income regions, the financial sector is often underdeveloped. Businesses and individuals have limited access to basic financial services, such as bank accounts, payment services and credit facilities. 

Across developing countries, it is estimated by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) that 65 million formal micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) have unmet financing needs, and about 1.7 billion adults remain unbanked. 

Norfund’s impact objectives

Norfund has the following impact objective for investments in financial institutions:

  1. Increasing the provision of financial services
  2. Increasing the provision of credit to clients

This enables economic growth and job creation in low- and middle-income regions and helps to improve living standards

Results 2021

Increased provision of financial services

The direct investments in our portfolio provided services to around 54 million clients in total.

Portfolio companies with two consecutive years of reporting increased the total number of clients by 7.5 million (17% growth) during 2021.  


Clients received financial services from portfolio companies in 2021


Increase in number of clients since 2020

In addition, the financial institutions we have invested in through funds, with two consecutive years of reporting, have provided 831,000 new clients with access to financial services and in total provided services to around 21 million clients. 

Increased provision of credit to clients

The combined loan book of the direct investments in our portfolio reached a total of 464 billion NOK by the end of 2021. 

The total number of clients provided with credit was 7.6 million, including 4.2 million to retail clients, 2.1 million to microfinance clients and 528,000 to SMEs. Institutions with two consecutive years of reporting had increased their credit provision by NOK 48.5 billion (12% growth) during the year. 


NOK in combined loan book


Increase in credit provision since 2020

The financial institutions in which we have invested through funds have provided an additional 13 million loans to clients, at a combined value of 67 billion NOK. Institutions with two consecutive years of reporting increased lending by 5.1 billion NOK during the year.