Financial inclusion

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

Results 2021*

7.5 Million

new clients offered financial services 

48.5 Billion NOK

increase in lending to clients


committed in total FI portfolio

Norfund’s investments in Financial Inclusion contribute directly to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal no. 8.10 – “Universal access to banking, insurance and financial services”.

The challenge

The financial sector in developing countries is underdeveloped in its depth, inclusion, and the relevance of the products . This prevents firms and individ­uals from meeting financial needs, capitalising on business opportunities, investing in home construction or education and coping with shocks, such as serious diseases or deaths in the family, loss of jobs or becoming a victim of natural disasters.


of world population lack access to financial services


of firms in Sub-Saharan Africa have a bank loan

The potential demand for finance in these markets is estimated to be USD 8.9 trillion. Despite these needs and the potential opportunities, investors are often reluctant to invest in financial institutions because of the reputational and perceived financial risks.

Impact from Norfund’s investments in Financial Inclusion

To contribute to increased access to finance and financial inclusion, Norfund invests equity and debt in banks, microfinance, funds and other financial institutions in low income countries. These inputs enable the financial institutions to borrow more and take on more deposits, and thereby increase their ability to lend to their clients.

Norfund’s impact objective for investments in Financial Inclusion is twofold;

  • Increase the capital available to companies
  • Increase the capital available to unbanked individuals – financial inclusion

Funding from Norfund also enables the financial institutions to improve their systems, capacities and financial performance. This results in:

  • Increased tax payments to the government,
  • Establishment of new firms
  • Job creation

As firms grow, they increase their demand from suppliers, enabling these to grow, hire more people and pay more taxes. 

Households use loans to increase consumption, increase investment and cope with shocks and thereby contributing to better living standards.

In summary; improved financial inclusion contributes to growth of firms and suppliers and affects the rest of the economy, leading to economic growth, job creation and improved lives.

Where possible, Norfund also strives to mobilise financing from other investors.

The figure below illustrates the “Theory of change”-model for investments in Financial Inclusion. It describes the relationship between the input Norfund provides to clients, the SDG targets, and the overall impact we want to achieve. The theory of change also highlights other relevant effects of our investments.

Norfund Business Support Program

When specific opportunities or needs are identified, the Norfund Business Support Facility can be utilized to co-finance complimentary impact enhancing measures with grant funding. Examples are leadership training program for female employees, improved management information systems, initiatives to strengthen corporate governance and investment-related community development initiatives.

Our stories

*Numbers for the previous year are updated annually in June