Finland-backed fund invests in Myanmar microfinance sector

Finnfund, which invests in responsible and profitable businesses in developing countries, has injected US$5.5 million in Early Dawn Microfinance Co Ltd, the third largest microfinance company in Myanmar in terms of client outreach.

The financing will support Early Dawn’s expansion in Myanmar’s underserved townships and peri-urban areas.

Finnfund gets its funding from the State of Finland and the private capital markets, as well as retained earnings from its investments. All profits get recycled into new projects that drive sustainable development.

The state-owned fund makes 20-30 new investments worth €200 million-€250 million each year. At the end of 2019, Finnfund’s portfolio comprised 183 projects in 52 countries worth €957 million.
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This is its third investment in the microfinance sector in Myanmar, where almost 70 percent of the population lacks access to formal financial services.

Early Dawn provides group loans to low-income women, and more recently expanded to extend individual loans to small businesses.

“During the investment process, we’ve been impressed by Early Dawn’s commitment to responsible and sustainable conduct of business,” said Finnfund’s investment manager Ulla-Maija Rantapuska. “They have not only minimised the impact on their business but also limited the disruption to clients’ businesses.”

Early Dawn has for example created new emergency loan products to support clients impacted by COVID-19. Under instructions from the government, the lender has also rescheduled repayments and restructured loans to help borrowers survive the pandemic.

Finnfund also favours businesses that advance gender equality, said Rantapuska. Almost all of Early Dawn’s clients are women, while 66pc of senior management and 60pc of board members are female.

Source : Myanmar Times

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