Being an intern in Norfund – Erik’s story

December 8, 2023

My name is Erik and in 2023 I was an intern in the Agribusiness and Manufacturing department (Scalable Enterprises).

Erik Pettersen with Scalable Enterprises Associate Elida Unneberg

Before joining Norfund I took a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Economics from NHH Norwegian School of Economics. I was super excited by the opportunity to work on growth equity investments in emerging and frontier markets and intrigued by the dual goal of both financial returns and impact and the connection between them.

Norfund’s Scalable Enterprises department is focused on driving industrialization, economic growth, and job creation by investing in scalable enterprises in agribusiness and manufacturing. These sectors are crucial for economic growth and job creation in Africa. In agribusiness, Norfund’s investments aim to drive productivity, link smallholder farmers to markets, increase production, and create jobs. In manufacturing, Norfund recognizes the sector’s potential as a key enabler of economic growth and transformation. The focus here is on developing a strong manufacturing base in Africa, where currently a significant portion of food, beverages, and similar processed goods are imported.

During my internship, I worked on several different projects in various stages of the investment process and on both equity and debt instruments. I got to be part of the first meetings with and screening of potential targets. Working with project teams, I enjoyed discussing and evaluating the historic and projected financials, the commercial part of the company and trying to find the appropriate deal structure taking into account risk and growth prospects. I got to see how Norfund works with consultants and industry experts to add on to the knowledge of the project team in the due diligence process. I was assigned to the teams of several portfolio companies and got an insight into how Norfund is actively working with the management and board, adding value by providing guidance on environmental and social issues as well as business issues.

A highlight of my internship was my trip to Nairobi and Addis Ababa. I was welcomed, and very impressed, by the Nairobi team, I visited the sites of a potential investment and met with the due diligence providers. This gave a valuable insight into the operations of manufacturing company and the challenges and opportunities in Kenya and surrounding markets. In Addis we talked to farmers, traders and cooperatives learning about how they work while exploring how to source inputs for our backward integration expansion.