In 2022, the direct effects of the COVID-19 pandemic started to diminish and the return to normal life beckoned. In stead, global macro-economic effects started to emerge with steep inflation rates following the start of the war in the Ukraine. High energy prices as well as raising food prices are now affecting companies and households. This means MASSIF clients and end beneficiaries, micro, small and medium sized enterprise are now faced with new challenges. Access to affordable financial services that can translate into business opportunities and increasing resilience for households particular in Low-income countries and fragile or conflict affected states has become even more important. MASSIF has a role to play, and this once more highlights the need for development finance, including blended structures to promote private sector development.
MASSIF committed EUR 75.8 million to 14 clients in 13+ countries over the last year. These investments focused on access to finance in fragile states, spurring innovative business models, addressing resilience, and supporting underserved groups like women, youth and refugees as highlighted below in a few examples.
Supporting private sector in even the most frontier environments, MASSIF invested in Horizon Capital together with BP and FMO; a Ukraine based fund established to invest primarily in fast-growing, export-oriented, asset-light companies that leverage Ukraine’s competitive cost base to generate global revenues. To support financial inclusion through innovation, MASSIF invested in Watu Credit in both Kenya and Uganda entities. Watu is a tech enabled micro-lending company providing pay as you go financing to young entrepreneurs operating motorcycles (boda bodas) and tuk tuk transport. This investment will enable Watu to advance financing to young entrepreneurs who are primarily rural based.
MASSIF is a pioneer in local currency financing and one of the few market parties worldwide offering such a product. This helps to reduce the risks of losses from currency mismatches for financial intermediaries and allows them to offer stable, local currency products to their (M)SME clients. We provided a local currency facility to Banco De Antigua, a semi-urban and rural focused MFI in Guatemala. This facility will enable the bank to advance local currency loans to rural based agriculture focused MSMEs in the country.
MASSIF participates in the NASIRA program through a blended finance structure which enabled next to the EU support economic viability. In total four financial institutions have received a guarantee from NASIRA. One of them is the Vitas Palestine and enables them to now support the growth of MSMEs affected by COVID-19, including female and young entrepreneurs, operating in Gaza (40%) and the West Bank (60%).
MASSIF has a Capacity Development facility and initiated a total of 33 projects to support customers as well as ecosystem projects. Of note this year is the partnership with Advans International group through a development grant to implement a climate governance project among its investees. Another important project this year was MASSIF’s partnership with existing client Gazelle finance to support refugees, women and youth who are families and employees of Ukrainian SMEs. This project was designed taking to account lessons learnt from a recent evaluations body of work on the Conditions for successful investments in fragile and conflict-affected states. The outcome of this study provided valuable insights for the FMO fragile state strategy and for other industry actors, particular as it highlights the importance of peace positive investment focus.
Looking back on 2022, we are pleased to see our efforts and strategy continuing to bear fruit with new transactions and projects making a difference in the current environment. The financial results remain strong with a revolvability of 146% and sound liquidity levels.