MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: BlueOrchard Launches $120m Japan ASEAN Women Empowerment Fund to Invest in Southeast Asian Microfinance Institutions

BlueOrchard Finance, a Switzerland-based commercial manager of “impact” investments, recently announced the launch of its Japan Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Women Empowerment Fund, which plans to invest USD 120 million in microfinance institutions (MFIs) focused on lending to female micro- and small-scale entrepreneurs in ASEAN countries. Investors in the fund, which has an eight-year lifetime, include the Japanese government’s Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the government-backed Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and Japan’s Sumitomo Life Insurance Company. While the size of Sumitomo’s commitment has not been disclosed, each of the government investors will disburse up to USD 30 million to the fund. ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Of the seven investment vehicles managed by BlueOrchard, its flagship fund is the BlueOrchard Microfinance Fund, which held total assets of USD 251 million as of July 2015. The investees of the seven funds serve a total of 24 million borrowers and 14 million savers. BlueOrchard reports total investments of approximately USD 3 billion from 2001-2016.

By Michelle Dold, Research Associate

About BlueOrchard Finance Ltd.

Founded in 2001, BlueOrchard Finance Limited is a Switzerland-based commercial manager of investments in financial inclusion, education and climate adaptation. As of 2016, BlueOrchard has approximately 60 employees in its offices in Cambodia, Georgia, Kenya, Luxembourg, Peru and Switzerland. Its investees serve approximately 30 million people in 60 countries. Of the seven investment vehicles managed by BlueOrchard, its flagship fund is the BlueOrchard Microfinance Fund, which held total assets of USD 251 million as of July 2015. Information on total assets held by BlueOrchard Finance is unavailable.

About Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

Established in 2002, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is a government institution that coordinates international development issues for Japan’s national government. As of 2015, JICA had an annual budget of JPY 148 billion (USD 1.48 billion).

About Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) was established in 2008 as the international arm of the Japanese Finance Corporation, which is administered by the Japanese government’s Ministry of Finance. JBIC seeks to foster economic partnerships between Japan and other nations by promoting Japanese exports and providing loans, equity investments and guarantees to international businesses. Headquartered in Tokyo, JBIC has offices in 16 countries. As of March 31, 2015, JBIC reports total assets of USD 154 billion.

About Sumitomo Life Insurance Company

Sumitomo Life Insurance Company, headquartered in Osaka, Japan, was founded in 1907 and has approximately 42,000 employees working from its 77 branch offices and 1,404 district offices. Sumitomo provides products and services including individual and group life insurance and annuities and retirement planning products. As of March 31, 2016, Sumitomo reports total assets of USD 282 billion.

Sources and Additional Information:

[1] BlueOrchard Press Release: “BlueOrchard announces launch of first & momentous impact fund fighting poverty and striving for women empowerment in South East Asia – A joint project with Japanese Investors and the appreciation of Japanese Government

[2] MicroCapital Universe Profile: BlueOrchard Finance

[3] MicroCapital Universe Profile: Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

[4] MicroCapital Universe Profile: Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)

[5] MicroCapital Universe Profile: Sumitomo Life Insurance Company

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