Abler Nordic is the new name of Nordic Microfinance Initiative, a public-private partnership investing in companies in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia supporting low-income households with financial services. The new name was launched locally at an event in Nairobi on February 21 by Managing Director Arthur Sletteberg, along with the announcement of the start of fundraising for their latest Fund V in 2023.
“Kenya is one of our key markets, and we are are excited to continue our growth under our new name and our new fund. Global poverty has risen for the first time in 20 years and low-income people across Sub-Saharan Africa are among the hardest hit by climate threats, despite contributing very little to global greenhouse gas emissions. Access to a wide range of financial services such as savings, agricultural financing, and insurance in addition to microcredit help low-income people adapt and manage economic and climate shocks. Our new name reflects our company’s overall goal: to help low-income households gain access to these types of relevant financial services so that they can lay a foundation for a better life,” said Arthur Sletteberg, Managing Director of Abler Nordic.
At Abler Nordic, public investment capital from the Norwegian and Danish governmental funds for developing countries, Norfund and IFU respectively, is blended with commercial capital from private investors. Up to now, Abler Nordic has invested over USD 34 million in Sub-Saharan Africa, with USD 16.4 million invested in Kenya in 3 companies. Foreign Exchange Facilities, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, enables Abler Nordic to provide capital in local currency and have been instrumental in securing both equity and debt investments in Kenya of USD 14 million across four currencies, where hedging conditions otherwise would limit such investments.
“The opportunities for inclusive economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa are vast, yet more risk-willing investment capital is needed. At Abler Nordic we do not invest where it is easiest or where risk is lowest, but where we believe we can achieve the biggest social impact alongside sustainable financial returns. I am looking forward to continuing to partner with our African portfolio companies—alongside our Kenya-based team—and seeking new investment opportunities as we continue to grow in Africa,” said Godfrey Kaindoh, Investment Director, and Head of Abler Nordic’s Kenya office.
A committed and long-term investor with a tailor-made approach, Abler Nordic plays an active role in the development of the five Sub-Saharan African financial inclusion organisations it is currently directly invested in: Juhudi Kilimo (Kenya), Kenya Women Microfinance Bank, Baobab Group (Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Tunisia, DRC, and Madagascar), Baobab Senegal, and Tugende (Uganda and Kenya). Abler Nordic holds board seats at all their equity investments and partners with portfolio companies to create value and support sustainable growth to help them achieve their mission.
Today, Abler Nordic’s global portfolio companies reach 9.4 million customers, 93 percent of whom are women and 71 percent living in rural areas. Women often face systemic barriers in accessing formal financial products, and rural areas are often the last to be financially served, due in part to infrastructure challenges. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 90 percent of loans are given for income generating purposes, which allow both rural and urban households to start and grow small businesses and improve their quality of life through increased spending on healthcare, education, and home improvements. Since inception in 2008, over 12 million customers globally have been supported with access to responsible financial services through Abler Nordic’s investments.