Investments through Funds make up 25% of Norfund’s total investment portfolio, and is an instrument used across all sectors. For Business Support the capacity building focuses on both the fund managers and their portfolio companies.
Through this structure we are able to strengthen our fund managers, increase their capacity on Technical Assistance, lean on their local expertise in certain sectors and reach an increasing number of companies, beyond our own capacity.
During 2021, Norfund’s Business Support Committee approved the support of five new Technical Assistance Facilities (TAF), thereby increasing the number of TAFs we support to a total of nine. The new projects target Fund managers, SMEs and MFIs from both the Scalable Enterprises and Financial Institutions departments.
Through the Scalable Enterprises department, Business Support has been allocated to funds investing in early-stage enterprises and SMEs in challenging markets, and for a fund investing in agribusinesses on the African continent. In the department for Financial Institutions, the key focus for the support has been, and will be, Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs). Norfund also supports the Arise investment banks through the Arise TAF.
Supporting our fund managers’ TAFs is an opportunity for us to reach companies beyond our core focus, building local business sectors and strengthen the portfolio companies of our investment funds. Topics that will be covered by the TAFs include improving E&S capabilities, strengthening financial controls and heightening efforts on key topics such as climate and gender.
Novastar is one example of a fund manager receiving Business Support in 2021. Novastar is a venture capital manager dedicated to finding and supporting the next generation of exceptional entrepreneurs designing and executing innovative business models to profitably serve Africa’s mass market. In 2020 Norfund invested 8 million USD in Novastar Ventures Africa Fund II. The strategy of the fund is designed to manage the specific risks related to start-up and early-stage companies, whilst meeting the needs of the entrepreneurs for financial and management support.
The objective of the TAF is to support capacity development of Novastar’s portfolio companies. The focus is on providing technical assistance for ESG improvements, feasibility studies, leadership training and operational improvements. With this support, Novastar can address specific challenges and opportunities faced by early-stage companies in the Fund’s geographies which are difficult for commercial capital to fund.
Through supporting TAFs, Norfund has supported over 70 indirect investees since 2018. These projects have for example resulted in the development of Gender Action Plans, increased understanding of ESG standards, added capacity development training of managers, and improved corporate governance and knowledge sharing through seminars for fund managers’ portfolio companies. This reach in capacity building would not be possible without the establishment of the TAF vehicle and through support to new TAFs approved this year it is expected that this impact will increase.