Characterized by the continued COVID-19 and resulting restrictions, our operations in 2021 took place in a still fundamentally different economic environment. One in which investors, companies and governments, as well as FMO and MASSIF faced significant challenges. The pandemic is not over yet, but we did see signs of economic improvement, resilience, and the continuation of business activities. Travel restrictions coupled with an increased effort by FMO to improve upon fiduciary control and oversight led to delays in project implementation. With almost no travel possibilities, carrying out essential due diligences on new clients was severely hampered. We focused on existing clients and prospects in advanced approval stages. This resulted in over EUR 50 mln in new investments and EUR 3.4 mln investment in Capacity Development projects.
We increased our footprint in unbanked and/or fragile states including Nepal, Myanmar, and Côte d’Ivoire. These investments are key for the creation of a positive investment track record in (fragile) markets where these investments are needed the most. On the gender strategic theme, MASSIF provided a EUR 3 mln synthetic LCY loan to la Finance pour Elle (Fin’ELLE), a young FI based in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), whose mission is to create added value for women entrepreneurs and participate sustainably in their financial & social emancipation. This transaction will be used solely to finance women MSMEs based in Côte d’Ivoire a country with a large financial inclusion gap.
To support financial inclusion through innovation, MASSIF made new investments in the Fintech industry by supporting Lendable MSME Fintech credit fund. The fund manager focuses on investing in fintech companies in Asia and Africa, a niche not served by traditional impact fund managers.
MASSIF strengthened mobilization opportunities by providing five (5) risk-sharing facilities through the NASIRA program (in Jordan, Kenya, Nigeria and Armenia). The Armenian AraratBank, for instance, now benefits from a USD 10 mln Nasira loan portfolio guarantee. This risk sharing facility enables AraratBank to support COVID-19 affected MSMEs and an MSME business loan portfolio of youth, women, and migrant entrepreneurs – from Lebanon, Syrian, Ukraine and Iraq currently living in Armenia.
With the Capacity Development program, MASSIF initiated a total of 35 projects to support customers. This included three ecosystem analysis into the entrepreneurial landscapes in Ethiopia, Jordan, and Somalia. Besides this, we have utilized the Capacity Development program to support our clients in both Myanmar and Afghanistan that have experienced tremendous political turmoil in 2021. In Afghanistan in particular, we supported our investee InFrontier AF LP an Afghanistan-focused, sector agnostic fund (the first Private Equity Fund in the country) with much needed business continuity support.
Looking forward into 2022, with hopefully increased travel opportunities, a higher production level is expected. We also expect to utilize the DFC-MASSIF participation facility signed in 2021. As part of the Fintech strategy, MASSIF will adopt a dual approach to its digitization efforts: the fund invested in a selected number of early-stage Fintech companies - either through new equity investments (venture capital) or debt investments or through development contributions- as well as supporting the digitization of existing portfolio clients.