Being an Intern in Norfund

Hi, my name is Thomas and I’m employed as an intern in the Financial Institutions (FI) department at Norfund.

Thomas Skaarer
By Thomas Skaarer, Intern

Financial inclusion

One of the major issues in developing countries is that individuals don’t have access to financial services, such as a bank account, credit and functioning payment systems (i.e. internet banking, secure payments and wire transfers). The purpose of our FI-investments is to reduce the number of unbanked people and to give small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to finance in order to support economic growth and lower unemployment. Our geographical priorities are in Central America, South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Working on Projects in Africa

During my four months at Norfund, I have worked with various projects across Africa, both independently and collectively. Here are some of the projects I have been a part of during this time:

A country analysis of Senegal, where I have gathered information and analyzed the various financial institutions in the French-speaking country in west Africa. Financial Institutions are more than just commercial banks and include Microfinance Institutions, Insurance and FinTech companies. Did you know that 45% of all mobile money transfers globally are in Sub-Saharan Africa?

When I started in August, I was given an independent project to work with throughout my internship. The project was to create a database for the pricing of loans, more specifically the pricing of loans to African banks. What was the purpose of this project? – To make sure that the loans we provide are in accordance with market prices and trends.

View from our meeting room in Lagos

Real Work Experience

Saving the best for last – I have worked together with two other Development Finance Institutions on a loan to a mid-sized Nigerian Bank, where Norfund is supposed to contribute $10 million, as part of a $50 million syndicated loan*.

*Syndicated loan: “A group of banks or other organizations that share the risk of a large loan”

The purpose of the funding is to support growth of the banks’ SME-lending. Nigeria has been highly dependent on oil & gas for the last decades and most banks in the country have been heavily exposed to the sector. The banking industry took a hit when oil prices started to decline in 2014 and having learnt their lesson, the banks are now diversifying their portfolio by focusing on, amongst others, SME-lending.

Travelling to Nigeria

I was fortunate enough to travel to Africa’s largest city, Lagos on a Due Diligence* trip in November, where I together with my colleagues met the management of the bank and discussed the various aspects and visions for the future and how our funds will be used to support their customers across Nigeria.

“A careful investigation of the state of a business by a person or organization that is thinking of buying it or investing in it”

In addition to having an experience that I will benefit from the rest of my life, travelling to Nigeria really gave me a new perspective on how important our work is and why we do what we do.

View from the hotel in Lagos

Being Part of the Team

Being an employee at Norfund for the last four months has been beyond all expectations, learning much more than I anticipated from working with financial models to writing investment papers and discussing the future aspects of a bank in Lagos. My positive experiences are mainly due to the experienced and skilled staff at Norfund, who always make time to answer your questions or assist you if need be. In addition to getting challenging and rewarding tasks, making you feel like part of the team.

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Case Study Trip to Kenya