My name is Peder Heiberg Sverdrup and I have been an intern in Norfund this past year, working on Environmental & Social (E&S). Working at Norfund has been a highly educational experience where I have gotten the opportunity to help improve Norfund’s systems for environmental and social data and other engaging projects from the very beginning.
Improving E&S monitoring
E&S refers to the first two elements of ESG, which is a core component of Norfund’s work. Ensuring that the investee complies with the relevant environmental and social standards is an integral part of Norfund’s investment process. Norfund works diligently with E&S, not just because it is our responsibility to ensure that our investees operate responsibly, but because E&S is a necessary component of driving growth in our portfolio companies.
During my time at Norfund, the E&S team and myself have been working on improving Norfund’s monitoring of our portfolio. Norfund is directly invested in over 170 projects that report on a varying basis. My job has been to map how we monitor our investments across the different departments in the months and years after we have disbursed funding. The result of that project has been to develop internal systems for registering the most common reporting formats for our investees, in a way where we can track progress and analyze portfolio level data. Norfund becomes a better partner for our investees when we can understand the issues in our portfolio with more accuracy.
Investment due diligence in Kenya
Beyond my work on the monitoring system for E&S, I got the opportunity to participate in the due diligence process on a manufacturing project within Scalable Enterprises in the Nairobi area during the early spring of 2022. My work concerned the environmental and social aspects of the investment together with the E&S lead. Prior to flying down to Nairobi I conducted an extensive assessment of the investee’s internal documentation on environmental and social concerns and identified issues and topics that required detailed discussion.
Exactly what these issues might be varies slightly on all projects as they are all unique, but Norfund always looks for a company’s commitment to ESG. Additionally, the existence of systems to mitigate E&S risks is important from our perspective. During our visit to the prospective investee I participated in interviews and drafted the E&S section for the final investment paper which is to be presented to Norfund’s investment committee later this spring.
An inspiring experience
Working as an Intern and continuing as an Analyst for E&S in Norfund has been a fantastic opportunity. As a professional development opportunity, the internship has challenged me to adapt to new systems and working methodologies, how to work in an international organisation, as well as the tools needed to conduct ESG due diligence and assessments.
However, the most important take away from my time at Norfund has been the fantastic team and colleagues. The intern group became fast friends through trips during the Norfund week, dinners and after work activities. When working on the intern project on Norfund’s organisational sustainability, this camaraderie aided our work as a project team. On an organisational level, we were welcomed and included from our first day. We have been a true component of the project teams. Norfund is a truly special workplace, with brilliant people from over 20 nationalities working together. The formative experiences and people I have met during my time at Norfund are things I look forward to carrying with me in my professional career.