Interview with Michiel, Chairman of the Board of Incofin cvso.
Who are you and what is your role at Incofin cvso?
I am Michiel Geers, president of Incofin cvso. As managing director of Volksvermogen I have been sitting since 2009 on both the Investment Committee and the Board of Directors of Incofin cvso.
What was your motivation for being part of Incofin cvso, and what makes Incofin cvso unique?
The social impact of Incofin cvso is inspiring. Incofin cvso focuses on people in emerging countries with few resources, but often with a great spirit of enterprise. People with a small business, a garage, a sewing workshop, a farm… With often no more than a few hundred euros, they can expand their enterprise and create wealth for themselves, their family and their environment. In these countries, small entrepreneurs often do not have a house or other assets that they can pledge. Traditional banks then withdraw. Microfinance gives this group of entrepreneurs access to finance.
To what extent does the organization fulfill its mission?
Incofin cvso has now been in existence for thirty years, and even though the way in which it does so has changed over the years, Incofin cvso has always remained true to its original mission: to support vulnerable people in emerging economies who want to make their entrepreneurial dreams come true. Today, Incofin cvso makes a difference for 3.4 million people in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. All of Incofin cvso’s investments have a clear local impact, which we also monitor. This impact is measured against six United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): no poverty, no hunger, gender equality, fair employment and economic growth, development of innovation and infrastructure, and reduction of inequality. In addition, Incofin invests in technical assistance, which allows the local institutions with which Incofin cooperates to improve their operations. For instance, investments can be made in digitalization, better risk management or product innovation.
What are the main challenges in the coming years?
Even though Incofin cvso’s primary focus is on financial inclusion, we still see many other challenges. Incofin cvso also invests in sustainable agriculture and fair revenues for farmers. Also with the climate challenges in mind, we look at how we can arm farmers against climate change.
Why is it important to be part of Solifin and what are your expectations?
We notice that the interest in conscious investments and especially impact investing has increased enormously worldwide. Yet I have the feeling that relatively few investors in Belgium know what impact investing entails. I am convinced that through cooperation within the sector we can reach more investors who want their money to yield not only financial, but also social returns.