The COVID-19 pandemic affected our financial intermediary customers and their end-beneficiaries the micro, small and medium sized enterprises. The impact varies per continent and between countries but overall, we have seen non-performing loans increasing and businesses adversely affected. We strengthened our monitoring and drafted a response program with the support of the Ministry that can provide flexible finance solutions to our portfolio customers under the MASSIF mandate. The expected surge in liquidity requests did not materialize in 2020 although we adjusted terms on a number of outstanding facilities and waived related covenant breaches. Through our capacity development program virtual knowledge sessions have been organized for customers and emergency grants were provided enabling acquisition of protective gear or develop communication tools. 

We also noted resilience and the continuation of business activities despite the challenging environment. We were able to commit to 14 new investments amounting to € 55 mln. The fund increased its footprint in fragile states with new investments in Cote D'Ivoire and The Palestine territories.  

MASSIF supported rural businesses and livelihoods through its investment in Maha Agriculture Microfinance and Proximity finance among others. Both companies are based in Myanmar, and they focus on providing sustainable financing to rural farmers and SMEs. Additionally, gender and youth focused financing was also provided specifically to COFINA, a Côte d’Ivoire based micro-finance institution that focuses on funding enterprises in the "missing middle".

To support financial inclusion through innovation, MASSIF made a € 25 mln commitment to the FMO Venture’s program an initiative developed from a collaboration between the European Commission, FMO and other government funds. Through this investment, MASSIF expects to support financing of early stage FinTech companies. MASSIF increased support to the NASIRA program with $2.5 mln next to the $25 mln increase from the European Commission. This increase relates to the amendment of NASIRA to also support COVID-19 affected entrepreneurs next to its focus on gender,  youth and migrants.  

With the Capacity Development program, MASSIF initiated a total of 47 projects to support customers predominantly on COVID-19 response but also, amongst others, governance and risk management support, E&S risk management, inclusive financing specifically focusing on gender topics or digital transformation.

Looking back on 2020, we are pleased to see our efforts and strategy continuing to bear fruit with new transactions and projects making a difference particularly in the current environment. Looking beyond this year we expect the effects of COVID-19 to become more financially apparent as moratoria and regulatory interventions expire. MASSIF has taken measures, like engaging with partners, to keep providing access to finance to businesses in fragile states, to support female entrepreneurs as well as youth, supporting agriculture and rural livelihoods and to spur innovation.