Development impact

    IFU is driving change

    By investing in the private sector in developing countries IFU is driving change towards more sustainable societies.

    IFU’s investments are made on commercial terms with the dual purpose of creating measurable, beneficial development impact alongside a financial return. Investing in poor countries has positive effects in the local economy, such as providing decent jobs, increasing the demand for inputs and the payment of local taxes. IFU’s ambition is furthermore to contribute to building a green, just and inclusive economy through its investments.

    IFU will support developing countries in their aspirations towards developing a greener economy by expanding the capacity to generate renewable energy, promoting a more efficient use of resources and contributing to a circular economy.  A green economy will prevent global temperatures to rise and enable developing countries to avoid the unsustainable development path that high-income countries have followed.

    A just and inclusive economy is a necessity because there is a strong need to reduce inequalities and poverty by addressing the fact that billions of people lack access to essential goods, services and rights. Through its investments, IFU can enable underserved groups in local societies to access basic products and services provided by the private sector, such as energy, healthcare, water and financial services.

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    IFU investments support the sustainable development goals

    IFU’s impact priorities are in line with the sustainable development goals (SDGs), which are set to create a better and more just world towards 2030.

    IFU’s investment contribute to the achievement of several of the SDGs. IFU’s overall impact priorities of contributing to a green, just and inclusive economy support SDG 8, Decent work and economic growth, SDG 10, Reduced inequalities, and SDG 13 Climate action. Furthermore, SDG 5 on gender equality also plays an important role in many of IFU’s investments. IFU’s investments are focused in five focus areas that each contribute to sector-specific SDGs:

    • Healthy lives (SDG 3)
    • Healthy foods (SDG 2)
    • Financial inclusion (SDG 1, 8 and 9)
    • Energy, water and waste (SDG 6, 7, 11 and 12)
    • Transformational business (SDG 10, 13, 8)

    Gender equality in IFU’s investments

    Gender inequalities are still deep-rooted in many societies. Women experience lack of access to decent work and face occupational segregation and gender wage gaps. In many places, they have limited access to basic education and health care and are victims of violence and discrimination. However, women play an important role in the economy of the developing countries, and their integration in the labour market and in the private sector has a significant impact on the livelihood of families.

    Promoting gender equality and contributing to SDG 5 is a cross-cutting objective of IFU’s investments. To further step up this effort, IFU has joined the 2X Challenge launched by the development finance institutions of the G7 countries in 2018. The aim is to advance opportunities for women through enterprise support, leadership and career progression, quality employment and products, as well as services that enhance women’s economic participation.

    In 2020, IFU established two targets related to 2X investments: Not less than 30% of the new investments each year must have a gender focus, and by the end of 2024, 40% of the portfolio should be 2X eligible or have plans to become 2X eligible.

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    Mobilising capital

    Employment alleviates poverty.

    IFU is mobilising capital through the establishment of public-private partnerships like the Danish SDG Investment Fund and through single investments, where IFU is only providing part of the total financing.

    By setting up the Danish SDG Investment Fund, IFU has mobilised close to DKK three billion primarily from Danish pension funds, and through a climate investment fund set up in 2014, IFU mobilised DKK 775 million, which is now invested in climate-related projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

    The mobilisation of additional capital has in recent years made it possible for IFU to more than double its annual investment volume, which reached DKK 1.1 billion in 2019. Including investments from other investors in the individual projects, the total value of contracted new investments was DKK 8.4 billion in 2019.

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    Investments create economic growth

    IFU projects impact economy in host countries by implementing new technology, training employees and paying taxes.

    More than 250,000 people are employed in the projects included in IFU’s active portfolio. Close to 130,000 are employed in Asia and close to 80,000 in Africa. In addition, almost 50,000 people are employed in companies in Latin America, Europe and globally.

    The more than 250,000 people employed directly in the projects are only the tip of the iceberg. According to UN research one direct job leads to one or two indirect jobs in the local supply chain or companies providing services etc.

    Counting direct as well as indirect jobs, the total number of jobs created or preserved in all the projects IFU and IFU manged funds have invested in is close to one million.

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    Investments create economic growth

    IFU projects impact economy in host countries by implementing new technology, training employees and paying taxes.

    New technology implemented

    When investing in local companies, IFU strengthens the transition to a greener and more resource efficient economy. For all new investments IFU assesses the possibility of introducing new technology that can contribute to reduce CO2 emissions.

    Investing in new technology enables developing countries to create more advanced products and services. It makes the countries more competitive and cost efficient, which also leads to higher incomes for individuals, companies and society.

    Implementing modern technology will normally also benefit the environment, because it is less polluting and more energy efficient. From 2020, IFU will for all new investments, asses how the use of technology can contribute to reduce CO2 emissions from single projects.

    On average, 70 – 75 per cent of companies, in which IFU invests, will implement world class technology.

    Training enhances skills

    In countries where formal vocational education is scarce, company sponsored employee training is essential. This will contribute to boost the general level of education and enhance the skills of employees. Consequently, people receiving such training will be better qualified and more employable in the labour market.

    In companies in which IFU invests, 70 – 75 per cent of the employees will receive training.

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    Sound businesses pay taxes

    Corporate tax contributes to development of local welfare.

    IFU and IFU managed funds only invest in project companies presumed to be economically viable. In most cases, the companies succeed in creating positive revenue, which is a condition for having a lasting development impact in relation to, for instance, securing and increasing the number of jobs, buying from sub-suppliers, and not least, paying taxes in the host countries.

    Since 2013, IFU has collected information on corporate taxes reported by the projects in the active portfolio. These figures do not include taxes paid by employees and VAT.

    In 2019, IFU project companies reported DKK 3.1bn in corporate taxes to host countries. More than one third was reported from companies operating in Africa and close to one third from companies in Asia.

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    IFU is committed to the Paris Agreement

    IFU’s GHG footprint is close to 453,000 tCO2 for 2020.

    IFU is committed to contribute to the transformational changes that the 1.5 °C target of the Paris Agreement entails over the coming years, and make its investment flows consistent with a pathway towards zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate-resilient development, as stated in IFU’s Climate Policy.

    In November 2020, IFU joined the other European Development Finance Institutions (EDFIs) in a commitment to align all new financing decisions with the objectives of the Paris Agreement by 2022 and to ensure that our portfolio will demonstrate net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. These commitments are in line with IFU’s Climate Policy.

    Furthermore, IFU has for the first time structured the reporting on climate change in our Annual Report in accordance with the framework recommended by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and have with the support from UNEP DTU calculated the portfolio GHG footprint from our investments.

    The calculation is based on the methodology described in the PCAF Global GHG Accounting Standard. However, the methodology applied included considerations that are specific to IFU, and expand on the PCAF standard, in order to allow for a full assessment of IFU’s portfolio. The full methodology paper is available here.

    Furthermore, in order to avoid double-counting, the footprint results account for attribution of IFU’s share of the investment, in accordance with the GHG Protocol Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard.

    IFU plans to repeat the calculation of the climate footprint every year in order to measure how IFU’s portfolio is performing on GHG over time and allowing IFU to track the journey to net-zero emissions in 2050.

    The result of the climate footprint is presented in the table below, which shows the emission footprint per sectors from IFU portfolio attributed to IFU share of the investment. IFU’s GHG footprint is close to 453,000 tCO2 for 2020.

    Climate investments
    In recent years, IFU has increased its investments in wind and solar projects in several developing countries like Brazil, Ukraine, Egypt, Nigeria and Mongolia. In 2020, IFU contracted two new climate investments; one wind project in Brazil with three sites of a total capacity of 94 MW and one investment in a solar company in West Africa with secured funding up to 100MW, assisting corporate and industrial businesses in solving the energy challenges by offering turnkey solar power solutions that can reduce cost and are more reliable and cleaner.

    In total, IFU’s current portfolio includes renewable energy projects with an overall capacity of 1,950 megawatts distributed on 775 megawatts in wind power, 575 megawatts in solar power and 600 megawatts hydropower. In total, the portfolio generated 6,215 GWh renewable energy in 2020 (including 1,860 from hydro power). This corresponds to 2.14 million tCO2e emission avoided in 2020.

    IFU’s two new climate investments are expected to represent GHG avoidance of approximately 200,000 tCO2e per year.

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    Agribusiness investments combat hunger

    Investing in agribusiness increases food supply and provides jobs in the supply chain.

    Investments in agribusiness are crucial for creating economic growth and social progress in developing countries. Consequently, IFU has during the years been investing in agribusiness projects along the whole value chain from farm to fork. At year-end 2019, the active agribusiness portfolio included 52 projects companies at a total of DKK 2bn in contracted investments. The project companies employed close  to 17,000 people.

    One investment is in a blueberry producer in southern Africa. The company is employing more than 500 people and uses several thousands of seasonal workers. Moreover, the company sources blueberries from small farmers growing them on their own fields. Another investment is Danper in Peru, which has grown from a small greenfield company to become one of the largest agribusiness exporters in the country.

    Food waste is a serious problem. Every year, one third of total global food production is wasted, and according to FAO food waste is responsible for around eight per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions. In developing countries one of the main reasons for food waste is insufficient and ineffective storage and transport facilities.

    Consequently, investments in improving and upgrading agribusiness infrastructure have the potential to decrease food waste, reduce undernourishment and increase farmers income. Examples of IFU’s investments in this kind of business is cool storage in Chile and Peru and freeze drying of food in India.

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    Financial services create local development

    IFU’s microfinance investments have made small loans possible for 25 million people.

    In most developing countries access to financial services is sporadic. This is not least the case in rural areas, and it hampers the ability for people to invest in and grow their business. To improve access to capital IFU has in recent years invested more than DKK 600 million in microfinance funds and institutions in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

    One of the investments is in Alliance, which provide financial services to more than 150,000 people in northern Myanmar around Mandalay. Another is Nordic Microfinance Initiative that through an investment in AB Bank Rwanda has enabled one of the borrowers 32-year-old Grace Masengesho to expand her business and attract more customers.

    IFU’s investments in microfinance contribute to reaching a total of 25 million people, of which 20 million are women. Thereby, women in particular get better options for improving their livelihood.

    IFU has also engaged in financing local banks in developing countries. The focus is on supporting banks targeting small and medium-sized local companies, which can develop and grow their business through loan financing. Investing in banks enables IFU to better service the local business community in developing countries compared to direct investments in individual small companies.

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    Selecting the right projects

    IFU is carefully analysing investment opportunities and selecting those with high impact potential.

    The overarching ambition of IFU’s investment strategy is to become a best-in-class impact investor. Therefore, new investments are guided by a set of impact priorities that steer the selection based on the investments’ potential and ability to assist developing countries in improving the livelihood of people and contributing to building a greener economy.

    IFU’s project screening tool integrates impact criteria with the general investment criteria, which all project ideas are submitted to. This ensures that IFU does not engage in preparing a project that is on the investment exclusion list or a project that does not positively contribute to IFU’s impact priorities of building green, just and inclusive economies.

    When an investment opportunity is approved for consideration, IFU engages in a thorough due diligence of the project. The impact potential is assessed further in relation to the SDGs, and project-specific impact areas are identified.

    IFU uses its leverage to initiate improvement of the sustainability and impact performance of the project. Specific actions and targets are agreed with the company and an impact creation plan is established.

    How IFU measures development impact

    Reporting and follow-up is essential to IFU’s active ownership strategy.

    IFU’s investment strategy involves adding value to the project by playing an active role throughout the investment period, also in relation to sustainability and impact.

    For all new IFU investments, the specific possibilities for creating impact are defined and a corresponding Results Framework agreed with the investment company. The indicators used in the Results Framework are specific for that project, but in many cases IFU uses standard indicators that will allow results to be reported at sector level or across the entire portfolio.

    The investment companies must report annually on the progress in relation to the defined impact areas. Deviations from envisaged results are subject to a further dialogue with the company.

    Projects are also required to prepare an annual sustainability report to be discussed and approved by its board of directors. The report serves as an important tool for the annual stocktaking of the project’s sustainability performance. The annual report must be submitted to IFU, which use them as a tool to perform active ownership and provide transparent sustainability information about its investments.

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    IFU reports on impact management

    IFU is a signatory to the Operating Principles for Impact Management

    IFU has a clear objective to contribute to sustainable development. This is implemented through a number of measures during the investment process. To strengthen this work, IFU is a signatory to the Operating Principles for Impact Management, which provides a framework for investors’ work to ensure development impact. These impact principles are widely recognized, and more than 130 impact investors have committed not only to live up to them, but also to report on how the work is progressing.

    As a signatory to the Impact Principles, IFU is committed to report annually on its progress with developing procedures for impact management. The first progress report was published in July 2020. IFU’s impact management work is furthermore subject to an independent verification, which has been carried out in 2021 by the American consultancy firm BlueMark, a market leader in impact verification. It concludes that IFU’s systems to manage and measure development effects are generally of a high standard, in particular the strategic focus and the assessment of the projects’ contribution to sustainable development in the preparatory phase. The Verifier Statement can be found here.

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    Environmental and social risks

    High environmental and social standards add value to projects as well as local communities and enhance business opportunities.

    Managing environmental and social (E&S) risks are an integral part of IFU’s investment process for both direct project investments and investments in funds, financial institutions and other financial intermediaries.

    Effective E&S due diligence reduces risks to workers, the environment, local communities and other stakeholders, improves impact and provides business benefits like access to markets, reduced staff turnover, cost efficiency in production and improved stakeholder relations.

    During appraisal IFU identifies E&S issues which may cause severe adverse impacts and are relevant for the project companies or the portfolio of funds and financial institutions. IFU also evaluates the project sponsor’s, project company’s, fund manager’s or financial institution’s awareness of and capability to manage E&S risks.

    Before the investment is approved, IFU ensures commitment to an action plan describing the actions to be taken to meet the requirements of IFU’s sustainability policy and the relevant sustainability standards over time.

    Throughout the investment period, IFU exercise active ownership and uses its leverage to monitor and assess the E&S performance as well as to ensure continuous improvement through the provision of training and tools.

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    Sustainability tools

    IFU has developed tools to support the project companies in their sustainability efforts.

    Sustainable investments – a handbook for our project companies

    This handbook explains how IFU’s sustainability requirements for direct investments in projects companies should be interpreted and can be implemented to ensure that sustainability is an integrated part of the strategic and daily operation of a company.

    Guidance is provided on how to identify ESG risks and impacts of project activities, and how to prevent, minimise and remedy adverse impacts through a proactive approach. The handbook also provides inspiration on how to identify business opportunities and wider shared benefits for local communities.

    The handbook can be downloaded here.

    ESG Self-assessment Tool

    The tool is a questionnaire that helps to determine to what extent a company meets the most fundamental rights and requirements regarding significant sustainability issues. It can be used to identify issues requiring further attention and to prioritise the sustainability effort.

    The tool has been developed by the Danish Institute for Human Rights in cooperation with IFU, the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) and the Danish Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs, and its official name is the Global Compact Self Assessment Tool. It can be downloaded here.

    Guideline on preparing a sustainability policy

    IFU requires project companies to adopt a written sustainability policy, which determines the level of ambition for the sustainability effort and is communicated internally and externally to relevant stakeholders. This guideline outlines what the policy should include and how to implement and communicate the policy.

    The guideline can be downloaded here.

    Guidelines on responsible supply chain management 

    IFU requires project companies to promote sustainability issues in interaction with its suppliers and business partners and require them to demonstrate due diligence in relation to potential and actual adverse impacts.

    The guideline provides recommendations for how project companies can work towards ensuring acceptable conditions in their supply chain. It describes how the company can prepare a code of conduct, identify and prioritise critical suppliers, as well as what the company can do, if it identifies critical issues in its supply chain.

    Guidelines can be downloaded here.

    Template for the annual sustainability status report

    IFU requires project companies to prepare an annual report that provides a status on sustainability issues and development impacts, including the implementation of the action plan and actions taken to address adverse impacts.

    The annual report must be submitted to IFU together with the annual financial report and IFU provides access to a digitalised template for which the company must use to prepare the report.

    Other tools

    A number of tools and standards developed by industrial organisations, consultancy firms and NGOs are also available. IFU can assist the project company in getting an overview and choosing the tools that correspond to the situation and the level of ambition of the project company.

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    Corporate governance

    Good corporate governance is essential

    IFU’s experience as an active participant in the governance of our project companies demonstrates that careful and continuous attention to governance is essential to achieve financial, sustainability and developmental goals.

    IFU sees corporate governance as an integral part of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) due diligence and a means to promote the rule of law, reduce risks, foster a more robust private sector and contribute to a sustainable and profitable business environment.

    IFU’s objectives in corporate governance of project companies are:

    • To ensure that the corporate governance framework of every IFU project company is fit-for-purpose and incorporates applicable best practices tailored to the enterprise’s size, industry, ownership structure and other characteristics.
    • To promote continuous improvement in the structure and practice of governance in project companies via our roles as shareholders, board member nominees and advisors.
    • To contribute to the development of a corporate governance culture in the developing countries in which IFU operates, through capacity-building, the introduction of best practices in project companies and the demonstration effect our companies serve in society and the broader economy.

    IFU strongly believes that we can best achieve our financial and developmental objectives by being an active investor. As a (minority) shareholder of our project companies, we will actively exercise our rights and responsibilities, including where appropriate through participation in the Board of Directors. IFU’s board member nominees will be empowered and encouraged to share and disseminate our extensive experience in hands-on governance.

    In order for our board member nominees to be prepared, IFU has developed a handbook on board work and corporate governance, which is based on our 50 years of experience. We hope that the handbook can serve as inspiration for others as well.

    View our corporate Governance Policy and Handbook on Board Work and Corporate Governance in the download box.

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    IFU's sustainability policy is the overall policy document, and a number of global sustainability issues are clarified in underlying policies.

    IFU’s Sustainability Policy sets out IFU’s commitment to invest in sustainable development. It outlines the sustainability and responsible business conduct requirements that apply to IFU itself, IFU managed funds, IFU’s direct investments in the form of equity and loans to project companies, as well as investments in private equity funds, financial institutions and other financial intermediaries.

    IFU’s commitments in relation to major global sustainability issues are clarified in underlying policies, that further explain IFU’s approach and implementation.

    Overview of the Sustainability Policy and underlying policies:

    All policies are based upon and aligned with international UN, ILO and OECD conventions, declarations, agreements and principles for sustainable development, including:

    • UN Sustainable Development Goals
    • UNFCCC Paris Declaration
    • Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Finance for Development
    • UN Global Compact
    • UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)
    • OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
    • Rio Declaration on Environment and Development
    • Paris Agreement on Climate Change
    • UN Convention Against Corruption
    • UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI)
    • Equator Principles and Climate Action in Financial Institutions
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    Grievance mechanism

    Grievance mechanism related to projects financed by IFU and IFU managed funds

    1. Introduction
    IFU encourages its investees to establish a procedure to handle grievances from individuals and communities, who may be adversely affected by the activities of the investee. Such grievance mechanism should be used as an early-warning risk-awareness system and as a mechanism to prevent conflicts and provide redress. Investees are defined as any business activities directly invested by IFU or IFU managed funds.

    The grievance mechanism should complement other judicial and non-judicial mechanisms including the National Contact Points (NCPs) under the OECD MNE guidelines.

    Nonetheless, there may be cases where grievances from those affected by an IFU investee are not resolved by the investee. In such cases, affected individuals and communities can use IFU’s Grievance Mechanism.

    2. Purpose
    IFU’s Grievance Mechanism is established to respond in a timely manner to legitimate concerns and complaints by persons or their representatives, who are adversely impacted by IFU’s investees.

    This mechanism offers an avenue for addressing grievances between IFU’s investees and external stakeholders. IFU’s Grievance Mechanism is not a legal enforcement mechanism and does not confer any rights of access to justice to the persons lodging a grievance.

    3. Applicable standards
    Grievances are concerns and complaints that can be raised related to an investee including its conformance with IFU’s sustainability policy and exclusion list, available here. This policy is amongst others based upon relevant international laws, principles and guidelines, such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the ILO Core Standards and the IFC Performance Standards.

    4. How to use IFU’s Grievance Mechanism
    Any person who is adversely impacted can lodge a grievance, preferably in English, by using the form on IFU’s homepage*. Grievances can also be sent to IFU or any member of IFU’s staff by sending an email, a letter or a fax.

    *As we are currently setting up a new technical platform for the grievance mechanism, you can temporarily submit any grievance directly to our General Counsel, Nicolai Boserup:
    Please be aware that the recipient will be able to see your mail address.

    Although response times will depend on the nature of the grievance, persons who have lodged a grievance will be kept informed about expected response times and progress made in addressing grievances.

    Grievances should preferably contain the following information:

    • Contact person lodging the grievance (name and address, telephone number and email address). Anonymous grievances will also be considered.
    • Persons impacted and how they are impacted.
    • The investee to which the grievance is related, including investee address.
    • Overview of actions (e.g. legal, contacts with project company, local authorities) that have already been taken to solve the issue.

    5. Confidentiality issues
    The identity of the person lodging a grievance will be kept confidential. If a grievance is deemed legitimate, it will typically be necessary for IFU to contact the relevant investee.

    6. IFU’s procedures
    All grievances are received by IFU’s Sustainability Unit, who is responsible for investigating the grievances and implementing the procedures described below on behalf of IFU, unless otherwise indicated.

    Once a grievance is received, IFU sends an acknowledgement of receipt of the grievance and an expected time frame for addressing the grievance.

    IFU determines whether a grievance is legitimate. IFU will review the issues raised in the grievance. Gathering the required information for the review may include reviewing relevant documentation and records, ensuring internal coordination of IFU staff involved and holding meetings with external stakeholders.

    IFU prepares an internal report on the grievance including recommendations. Recommendations may be operational corrective actions or improvements to existing policies or procedures in the investee. Where possible and appropriate a corrective action plan is drafted and presented to the investee.

    The report will be presented to IFU’s executive board, who will decide on the most appropriate course of action. If IFU’s executive board is deemed to be in a conflict of interest, the report will be handled by IFU’s general counsel and presented directly to the chairman and deputy chairman of the board of directors of IFU.

    IFU informs the person lodging the grievance about the decision made by IFU.

    7. Reporting and evaluation
    IFU will report to its board of directors and in the annual report on the status and outcome of grievances received on an aggregated basis, taking into account confidentiality regulations and agreements.

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