Stockholm (NordSIP) – BlueOrchard, a Swiss-based impact asset manager, recently obtained the permission from the Swedish FSA (Finansinspektionen) to market its Microfinance Fund to non-professional investors in Sweden, making it one of the few impact investment funds currently available to Swedish retail investors. We met with Shawn Westcott, Business Development Director for the Nordics (pictured), who gave us an introduction to the strategy.
According to Westcott, BlueOrchard is a pioneering impact investment manager. Founded nearly 20 years ago by initiative of the United Nations, BlueOrchard launched the first-ever commercial microfinance fund to open financial opportunity to the world’s poor. The company now offers a range of investment strategies across asset classes. The firm is dedicated to contributing to solving the pressing global challenges outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with BlueOrchard’s funds proactively addressing 13 of the 17 SDGs. “Many asset managers now talk about impact and the SDGs, but for us, it’s in our DNA,” says Westcott.
To date, BlueOrchard has invested more than $4.7 billion across 70 emerging and frontier markets, enabling tangible social impact that has reached 35 million people.
BlueOrchard began operating in the Nordics in late-2016 with an AIFM Passport to market to institutional investors. Early investors from the region included an internationally-recognized foundation, as well as private family offices. Following the Swedish FSA’s green light to market to non-professional investors, the BlueOrchard Microfinance Fund (BOMF) was selected by Handelsbanken as an investment opportunity available for selected clients in Sweden. “This is a major commitment to impact investing from one of Europe’s leading banks. Handelsbanken have made a true commitment to direct investment capital toward addressing global challenges. Handelsbanken clients now have the opportunity to make real and lasting impact, contribute to improving the lives of countless individuals in emerging and frontier markets, and realize market-rate returns on those investments,” Westcott continues.
The BlueOrchard Microfinance Fund is the oldest commercial microfinance fund in the world. It is also currently the largest. “To date, microfinance institutions funded by BOMF have reached nearly a million micro-entrepreneurs in 50 countries, a majority of who are women. These loans have a ripple effect in communities and are creating financial inclusions around the world,” Westcott adds.
“Nordic investors have long shown a strong commitment to sustainability and responsible investing. BlueOrchard is strongly positioned to accommodate these investors and looks forward to continuing to develop a strong relationship with the Nordic market. We are excited and proud about having BOMF approved for distribution within Handelsbanken. BOMF provides an excellent opportunity for Handelsbanken and its clients to contribute to solving the pressing global challenges outlined in the SDGs,” said Patrick Scheurle, CEO of BlueOrchard, in a press release.
Picture © BlueOrchard