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Finnfund and University of Helsinki co-invest in Advans Group

Staff writer
Oct. 20, 2021, 12:05 a.m.
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Finnfund and the University of Helsinki in the first co-investment participation financing have provided a €10m debt facility to the Advans Group, a microfinance group serving over one million clients in Africa and Asia.

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Finnfund and the University of Helsinki in the first co-investment participation financing have provided a €10m debt facility to the Advans Group, a microfinance group serving over one million clients in Africa and Asia.

“We are very pleased to make this investment into Advans together with University of Helsinki. Advans has been our investee since 2019. There are many interesting impact investment opportunities with an attractive risk and return profile, and we are increasingly looking for new partnerships to both strengthen our role as an investor and to contribute to sustainable development and climate actions,” said Markus Pietikäinen (pictired), CIO at Finnfund.

Advans Group is active in Cambodia, Cameroon, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Pakistan, Nigeria, Tunisia, and Myanmar.

Through this funding, Finnfund and University of Helsinki aim to generate funding for micro and small businesses and promote responsible business practices and gender equality within microfinancing.

Established in 2005, the Advans Group together with its subsidiaries has had a pioneering role in launching responsible and client-friendly microfinance services in many of its underserved markets. 

The loans are mainly targeted at small businesses with growth opportunities helping them create and sustain jobs and improve profitability. In 2020, their average loan size was 2200 euros, and 60% of their borrower clients were women.

“We are grateful to Finnfund for its renewed commitment to supporting the Advans Group’s development. This new facility will enable our subsidiaries to continue to provide tailored and innovative financial services to small businesses so as to foster growth and economic and social development in our countries of operation, which is especially critical in a post-Covid world where our clients need funds to resume activity”, said Steven Duchatelle, Chief Executive Officer at Advans Group.

Although small businesses play a pivotal role in promoting economic development in developing countries, they are often excluded from the financial mainstream. 

Advans’ aim is to respond to the need for financial services of small businesses and other populations who have ill-adapted, limited or no access to formal financial services through providing tailored financial services in a sustainable and responsible manner.

Advans currently has a staff of around 7,500 employees of which about 40% are female. 

Advans has become an exceptional employer in its markets since it invests in hiring and training local graduates many of whom perform successful careers with the company.

Advans has also put effort into promoting gender equality within the group. For instance, the company has been increasing the number and the share of women in the leadership teams in all its African subsidiaries, and in 2020 started a gender-focused project including an evaluation of Advans’ Gender Strategy.

“We are very excited both about the opportunity to finance Advans and the opportunity to work with such an experienced impact investor such as Finnfund. In terms of investment activities, we aim to be at the forefront of sustainable development and responsibility. Through this investment, we can increase the social impact of our investments and we can contribute especially to gender equality, which is one of our core values at the university,” added Teresa Platan, Deputy CIO at the University of Helsinki.

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