Norfund is a responsible investor. We add value by helping the companies to achieve good standards of governance, along with strong environmental and social performance.
Through active ownership, Norfund ensures that all the companies we invest in are run professionally, responsibly and predictably.
In many of the countries in which Norfund invests, legislation and rules that protect employees and vulnerable people are of varying quality. Norfund's requirements may be higher than those of the national legislation.
Being an active minority investor, Norfund can influence the companies we have invested in.
We require that all investees comply with the environmental and social standards of the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC).
These standards cover among others social and environmental standards, indigenous peoples’ rights, impact on local communities and the core conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), prohibiting e.g. forced labour and child labour and securing workers’ rights.
When necessary, binding plans of actions are established to secure that the companies implements the agreed standards during the investment period.
With an ownership horizon of normally four to ten years, Norfund aims to contribute to generating a culture for continuous improvement of corporate governance and environmental and social standards within the companies we invest. Zero tolerance for corruption is fundamental.
Being an active minority investor, Norfund can influence the companies we have invested in through the investment contract, dialogue and via companies’ boards, but we also depend on buy-in from our partners. As such, our influence depends on the investment instrument used, our shareholding, and our partners’ priorities.
Good working conditions
Good working conditions for employees are a fundamental goal for Norfund. Ensuring that the enterprises focus on health, safety and the environment (HSE) is a considerable challenge. Our aim is to ensure that the necessary safety equipment is in place and used and that procedures are followed by all concerned, including subcontractors.
Norfund spends considerable resources on following up on HSE requirements in all our investments. The World Bank Group Environmental, Health, and Safety Guidelines contain the performance levels and measures that are normally acceptable, and that are generally considered to be achievable in new facilities at reasonable costs by existing technology.
Human rights and Gender Equality
Norfund requires that account is taken for human rights, gender equality, local communities, environment and biological diversity. As Norfund invests in private enterprises, our commitment to promoting gender equality, human rights etc. centres on areas within the control of these companies, i.e. addressing gender gaps in employment, leadership and entrepreneurship.
The IFC standards provide guidelines for all assessments Norfund make during the investment process, as well as guidelines for the monitoring of the implementation of the standards.
Human rights are a major sustainability issue for business and their stakeholders. Our approach of assessing and managing the environmental and social risks and impacts of our investment operations, including the requirement placed on our investees through the IFC Performance Standards, is broadly convergent with relevant parts of the International Bill of Human Rights, as well as the Guiding Principles under the United Nations’ “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework, including their emphasis on due diligence.
Norfund is for the time being developing it’s Gender Policy, which will be published here as soon as it is approved.
Below you can see a 3 minutes video about a gender initiative for Zambian banks and female entrepreneurs.
Norfund and the other European DFIs (EDFI) have identified certain sectors and industries in which we do not invest. The EDFI Exclusion List provides an overview of these.
Principles for Responsible Tax
Successful businesses will contribute to increased government tax revenues which allow the government to provide services such as education, health care and public infrastructure. A responsible tax policy is thereby a fundament for Norfund´s operations. Our tax policy is based on the principles stated in the Norfund Act, Norfund's statutes and EDFI's principles for responsible tax in developping countries.