Achieving ACDI/VOCA’s mission requires facilitating access to finance for farmer groups, enterprises, and communities through sound business practices. Over the last decade, we have led a global shift among donors and practitioners to strengthen whole value chains in which the poor participate, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that offer markets for farmers.
Today, despite progress, a “missing middle” remains in financing. SMEs lack financing because they are too large for microfinance institutions but too small for large investors. These viable businesses would benefit from patient capital, or longer-term, more flexible financial products and technical assistance to invest, upgrade, and grow.
At a Glance
Total Fund Size:
Current fund size: $2 million
Target size by 2020: $5 million
Structure: Blended finance: philanthropic capital, private debt, private equity
Investment Size: $50,000 to $1 million
Geography: Ghana, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
Target Internal Rate of Return: 4-10 percent to investors
Financial Products: Quasi-equity (structured exits, demand-dividend), and convertible debt
Jurisdiction: United States
Managing Director, Partnerships & Investments, ACDI/VOCA
ACDI/VOCA’s subsidiary, AV Ventures LLC, helps close this gap and provides innovative, catalytic financing to agribusiness SMEs in select emerging markets where we work. Such investments provide better economic opportunities for communities and generate social impact through more inclusive, responsible supply chains.
Globally, SMEs face a nearly $2 trillion financing gap. While the impact investment sector has grown dramatically over the past five years, over 70 percent of investment funds globally target deals of $250,000 or more. In high-income countries, SMEs are responsible for over 50 percent of GDP and over 60 percent of employment, but in low-income countries they contribute to just 30 percent of employment and 17 percent of GDP. Investing in SMEs through tailored, customized financial products presents a strong market opportunity to fill a demand for financing, as well as economic and social impact through job creation and increased standards of living.
AV Ventures’ investment strategy is to invest patient capital in growing agribusinesses in developing countries to promote markets in which business owners, smallholder farmers, and communities are empowered to succeed. Our pilot funds in Ghana and Central Asia (Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) focus on SMEs that show significant potential for growth and impact, particularly for small-scale farmers.
“In the case for professional volunteer service organizations (i.e. PUM, IESC, ACDI/VOCA, SES etc.) – its transfer of knowledge is as crucial as the committed capital investment to enterprises. Next to that, these organizations have a wealth of data, network and track-record in advising enterprises around the globe.” – Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE)
Progress along social and economic metrics are a substantial indicator of AV Ventures’ investments’ overall performance. Anticipated social and economic outcomes, such as increased sourcing from smallholder farmers, servicing smallholder farmers, environmental responsibility, and job creation, will inform investment decisions, be monitored, and reported post-investment alongside financial metrics through customized impact measurement frameworks.
ACDI/VOCA Network of Affiliated Financial Institutions
Beginning in 1992 with the founding of Agrocapital in Bolivia, ACDI/VOCA has established and developed rural and microfinance institutions in the Caucuses, Central Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The range of financial products offered—from individual and group loans to commercial banking services—demonstrates the depth of ACDI/VOCA’s commitment to promoting financial inclusion, particularly for the poor, women, youth, and rural communities.
Several of these financial institutions began as USAID-funded projects. ACDI/VOCA then continued to provide technical assistance and oversight as these institutions grew. They have benefitted from ACDI/VOCA’s governance as they developed managerial experience, implemented sophisticated operating systems, and expanded reach and coverage of financial services to clients.
In 2013 nine financial institutions joined together to form the ACDI/VOCA Network of Affiliated Financial Institutions, united around a common social mission is to enhance member institutions’ abilities to provide financial services to underserved populations and businesses in the markets in which they operate. ACDI/VOCA was a founder of all nine institutions and sits on the board of each. The network has over $295 million in loans outstanding to 180,000 clients, 44 percent of whom are women.
This small and medium-sized entrepreneur (SME) lender (name withheld for security reasons) was established by ACDI/VOCA in 2007 under the USAID Agriculture, Rural Investment, and Enterprise Strengthening (ARIES) project to provide business loans that support economic growth and job creation for entrepreneurs. Since the end of the ARIES project, the lender has operated as an independent and locally managed non-bank financial institution. It provides Sharia-compliant loans—following Islamic banking practices—and currently provides 70 entrepreneurs with over $13.6 million in financing to build their businesses.
KredAqro is a microfinance lender, established by ACDI/VOCA in 2000 under theUSAID-funded Rural Credit Project. Since the end of the project in 2005, KredAqro has established a strong niche in rural and agricultural financing across all provinces in Azerbaijan. The lender serves microentrepreneurs, small and medium-sized businesses, farmers, and animal livestock producers with a wide range of competitive loan services. Most of its loans are under $2,000, with a total loan portfolio of more than $39 million to 17,216 clients (26 percent whom are women). Thanks to its strong portfolio and solid financial performance, KredAqro has attracted funding from a wide range of social investors and leading international finance institutions. ACDI/VOCA is the sole owner of KredAqro. Read more: www.kredaqro.com.
Kyrgyzstan: Bai Tushum Bank
Bai Tushum Bank received a full banking license from the National Bank of Kyrgyzstan in 2012, distinguishing itself as the first microfinance institution in Central Asia to become a commercial bank. Products and services targeted to businesses, SMEs, and the general public include loans, deposit products, settlements, cash services, and remittances. The bank has a social mission to serve rural clients and combines this with excellent and consistent financial performance. With a portfolio exceeding $108.8 million and 30,435 clients (37 percent of whom are women), Bai Tushum Bank’s strong business model has attracted international investors, including Triple Jump, responsAbility, and Bamboo Finance. Read more: www.baitushum.kg/en.
Kyrgyzstan: BT Innovations
ACDI/VOCA and Caritas Switzerland founded Bai Tushum Financial Fund in 2000 as a nonprofit microcredit agency with a mission to promote economic growth and food security. Subsequently, ACDI/VOCA assumed full responsibility and continued to provide technical assistance. BT Innovations provides loans and equity investments to Kyrgyz SMEs (37 percent of which are women-owned). In addition, current borrowers receive financial literacy trainings, and women-owned SMEs are targeted for training and capacity building services. ACDI/VOCA has maintained its relationship with the agency and remains its largest shareholder.
ACDI/VOCA created Frontiers in 2003 under the USAID Central Asia Microfinance Alliance (CAMFA) project. As an apex lender, Frontiers’ mission is to provide wholesale loans to small microfinance institutions in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan in order to stimulate economic development and job creation. It currently lends $19 million to over 161 client financial institutions. Frontiers also has a significant equity position in Arvand, a microfinance lender in Tajikistan. Frontiers is a wholly owned subsidiary of ACDI/VOCA. Read more: www.frontiers.kg/en.
Kazakhstan: KazMicroFinance (KMF)
The microcredit organization KazMicroFinance (KMF) provides individual and group loans to micro and small businesses and serves the general population with financial services. It was established in 2006 as a for-profit subsidiary of the nonprofit microcredit organization Kazakhstan Loan Fund (KMF Demeu) to serve women entrepreneurs and small businesses. KMF has the largest loan portfolio among the ACDI/VOCA Network of Affiliated Financial Institutions members, exceeding $140.1 million and serving 119,944 clients (69 percent of whom are women). Its excellent financial results and strong portfolio growth attracted two new equity investors in 2014, responsAbility and Triodos.
Kazakhstan: KMF Demeu
ACDI/VOCA first established the Kazakhstan Loan Fund in 1996 under the USAID Kazakhstan Community Loan Fund project to provide microfinance loans. In 2006 the loan fund established KazMicroFinance (KMF) as a for-profit microfinance lender and transferred its growing microfinance portfolio to KMF. Two years later, the Kazakhstan Loan Fund was transformed into KMF Demeu, which has a mission to support financial education and charitable activities.
Tajikistan: MDO Arvand
Microcredit Deposit Organization (MDO) Arvand is a limited liability company established by the MicroInvest in 2008, with additional equity funding from Frontiers. Arvand provides individual and group loans to women entrepreneurs and micro and small enterprises located in rural and peri-urban areas of Tajikistan. It also provides deposit and remittances services. MDO Arvand’s portfolio has grown to over $36.4 million. It serves 30,057 clients and has over $3 million in deposits from 7,000 savers. The organization has received equity funding and technical assistance from international investors, including Triodos and Incofin. Read more: mdoarvand.tj/en.
ACDI/VOCA founded the microloan fund MicroInvest as a nonprofit financial institution in 2002 with the mission to promote economic stability and food security in the Fergana Valley Region of Tajikistan. In 2008 MicroInvest established Arvand, as a microcredit deposit organization, in order to transition its microfinance lending activities to a company that could raise new financing and offer more products and services. MicroInvest remains a significant shareholder in Arvand. MicroInvest provides consumer loans to individuals and groups and promotes financial inclusion with financial education training for its clients.
Agribusiness Systems International (ASI)
Agribusiness Systems International (ASI), an affiliate of ACDI/VOCA, is a nonprofit consulting firm that confronts today’s global challenges by aligning business interests with those of smallholder producers. ASI supports ACDI/VOCA’s mission and draws on their experience conducting market systems analysis and driving agribusiness development that equips people to build healthy families, resilient communities, and flourishing societies.
Through on-the-ground knowledge and strong networks, ASI grows reliable, efficient supply chains that enable companies to sustainably source their agricultural products to bring profit to both shareholders and enterprising smallholder producers.
ASI’s approach recognizes the potential for real change when we bridge the divide between stakeholders. For more than 20 years, ASI has developed local, tailored solutions rooted in creating business value for its clients and expanding economic opportunities for smallholder farmers.
What ASI Believes
- There is significant untapped potential for growth among smallholder producers and agribusinesses.
- Businesses can profit while contributing to the greater good and sustainably solving today’s pressing development challenges.
- Lasting, inclusive transformation is realized through practical, mutually beneficial business solutions.