Swedfund is Sweden’s development finance institution and aims to contribute to poverty reduction through sustainable investments in the world’s poorest countries. We play a vital role in aid work and in the implementation of Agenda 2030.
Our mission is to finance and develop sustainable businesses. A well-developed private sector with jobs offering decent working conditions leads to stable communities and reduces poverty. Swedfund is a government company which is managed by the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation. Its operations are financed by reflows from the portfolio and through capital contributions from the aid budget, for which the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs is responsible.
Swedfund was established in 1979 and ever since then has invested in businesses, financial institutions and funds in countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the Baltic States. There are similar development finance institutions in fourteen other European countries. They are all part of the European Development Finance Institutions (EDFI) collaborative organisation. At the end of 2021, Swedfund had 61 investments in companies, financial institutions and funds, with over 60 percent of the portfolio being targeted at sub-Saharan Africa.
Swedfund has the same goals as Swedish development cooperation, but uses different tools. We invest in equity, provide loans and use funds to reach more people. Our investments help to create jobs with decent working conditions and improve access to essential products and services in the world’s most vulnerable countries.
Our work is based on our Theory of Change. This means that we carry out an analysis of how a potential investment can contribute to change and what direct and indirect development effects we can help to create. To secure the development impacts, we contractually bind the changes we want to achieve and consider possible, and provide expertise and technical assistance as and when necessary in order to support a development in the right direction. Our business model is based on three pillars: impact on society, sustainability and financial viability. We follow up and report a number of indicators linked to each pillar, and our overall results describe the impact and development effects we have generated.
Swedfund aims to contribute to impact on society in the world’s least developed countries. We measure our work through indicators linked to:
• Gender equality and women’s economic empowerment
• Climate impact
• Tax revenues
Swedfund aims to help create sustainable businesses in the world’s least developed countries. We measure our work through indicators linked to:
• Working conditions
• Environment and social management system
• Anti-corruption management system
Swedfund aims to help create profitable and financially viable businesses in the world’s least developed countries. We measure our work through indicators linked to:
• Turnover and profitability
• Capital mobilisation
According to our Owner’s instructions, Swedfund’s remit is to operate in the least developed countries, where there is the greatest opportunity to make a difference. We have therefore opted to have a geographical focus on sub-Saharan Africa and the most vulnerable countries in Asia. More than 60 percent of Swedfund’s investments take place in sub-Saharan Africa.
We invest in three sectors which we consider to be particularly important for achieving our goal, to contribute to poverty reduction: Energy & Climate, Financial inclusion and Health. Climate, gender equality and women’s empowerment, and digitalisation are three thematic areas that permeate everything we do, regardless of the chosen instrument, geography or sector.
According to Swedfund’s Owner’s instructions, our investments must be additional in accordance with the international aid agency OECD/DAC’s definition of additionality. This means that we enable investments that would otherwise not take place. Swedfund assesses additionality from three perspectives: financially, in terms of sustainability and from the impact on society that an investment generates. That we add something in all three dimensions is a prerequisite for us to go ahead with a new investment. In addition to capital, it may be
a question of providing skills to help companies develop in the right direction. We often use Technical Assistance (TA) for quality-enhancing initiatives amongst portfolio companies and to increase the overall development effects that the business generates.
Taking risk is a pivotal part of our mission and business. By taking risks and highlighting the opportunities, we are catalytic and aim to act as a bridge to private capital and boost private investment in developing countries. The work relating to risk management aims to achieve risk optimisation based on mission goals and a business model, rather than risk minimisation in every regard.