Boosting economic recovery and creating jobs in Central America

In December 2020, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new growth capital fund for fast growing small and medium-sized enterprises in Central America, CASEIF IV, was launched.

The objective is to boost the economic recovery and create jobs in Central America, Panama, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic. 

These countries have all been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the hurricanes that hit the region the previous months.

This new regional initiative will support the economic reactivation through investments in sustainable companies that create local jobs and opportunities – especially for women.

The establishment of CASEIF IV LP in the midst of the pandemic has been challenging, but it is precisely about promoting job creation and boosting opportunities for women.

Erick Lagos, Director General,
LAFISE Investment Management

About the new fund, CASEIF IV :

This new fund brings innovative ways to finance medium-sized companies facing high-growth and expansion stages.  Among these, it features mezzanine loan instruments, whose flexible terms allow for a better tuning to the specific needs of each business, thus allowing a robust and sustainable growth for the companies that receive them.   

In addition to seeking the typical profitability and sustainability investment criteria, CASEIF IV LP has adhered to the 2x challenge and will strive to promote gender equality policies in all its investments and finance women-led companies.

CASEIF IV is managed by LAFISE Investment Management (LIM) which was established by Norfund and LAFISE Group in year 2000. This new Fund is the 4th in the CASEIF Funds family.  It was launched with an initial closing of US$  40  million.  The total fund size is expected to reach US$75 million by the end of 2021.   

11.000 new jobs are already created

In year 2000, LAFISE Investment Management (LIM) was the first regionally managed fund for SMEs in Central America. Norfund initiated the fund because this is an important tool for creating a large number of local and sustainable jobs.  

During the past 20 years LIM has managed 33 investments in different sectors and industries in 8 countries.


female staff in the CASEIF portfolio

The investments have directly and indirectly contributed to the creation of more than 11.000 new jobs, whereof 40% are occupied by women. 70% of the companies in the portfolio are exporters which have grown into regional operations.

Increased female management at Newvana in Costa Rica

Newvana is a food and beverage company in Costa Rica that was acquired by CASEIF III in 2016. As part of the investment agreement, CASEIF required the company to develop a code of ethics. This approved in 2017 and included among others the promotion of gender equality in the organization.

Since then, Newvana has made several initiatives to promote gender equality through leadership, equal opportunities, inclusion and promoting women to managerial positions and to different types of committees. In 2018, they also implemented an inclusive scholarship program in which 44% of the participants were women.

And the results are considerable:

  • Today, women represent 50% of line management – compared to 30% in 2016
  • 40% of the total workforce are female

45% business growth in two years at Meat Depot in Dominican Republic

Meat Depot is a combined butcher shop and kitchen-diner brand in the Dominican Republic. In 2018, Meat Depot partnered with CASEIF III by receiving a mezzanine equivalent facility.

Since then, the company has also received technical support in areas such as accounting, HR, quality assurance and marketing. Thanks to the additional funding, Meat Depot was able to acquire more efficient equipment, triple the manufacturing capacity and to build a new cold-storage facility. The business grew with more than 45% in 2019, and they had a similar path ready for 2020. But then Covid-19 hit the region. Despite the difficult circumstances, the company has been able to move forward also in 2020, although in a slower speed.  

I would like to thank the CASEIF staff for all their support, and I truly believe, when the pandemic is over, we will emerge strengthened.

Victor Martinez, Founder and CEO of Meat Depot

Norfund’s contribution

Since year 2000, Norfund has invested in total USDM 19.5 in CASEIF I, II and III.

Now, in 2020, Norfund has signed on as Limited Partners of CASEIF IV with a commitment of USDM 20. The due diligence for CASEIF IV was among the first done virtually due to the COVID 19 restrictions.

Norfund was also a founder and minority shareholder in the General Partner entity of the fund, Lafise Investment Management and has supported with a role on advisory committees and as an observer at the Board level. Norfund also provided technical assistance to LIM which has been used to help the SMEs strengthen their accounting and financial reporting standards as well as their ESG and occupational health and safety standards.