HEKS/EPER and Swiss-based impact investment firm iGravity have officially launched the Rural Livelihoods Investment Window, a private debt facility that provides financing and business support to enterprises in Sub-Saharan Africa to promote sustainable employment and income opportunities for communities in rural areas. The focus of the initial phase is on Uganda and Senegal.
While impact investing is growing rapidly, many charitable foundations and NGOs still struggle to incorporate investment capital into their philanthropic activities. HEKS/EPER is among the frontrunners of charitable organizations active in the impact investment space having started back in the 1990s with investing in microfinance institutions across Eastern Europe. Building on these activities, HEKS/EPER took the decision to expand its activities in impact investment to invest directly in small to medium enterprises – often referred to as the “missing middle” – in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Rural Livelihoods Investment Window aims at supporting local enterprises that generate employment and income opportunities for rural households or provide access to relevant goods and services, such as water and sanitation solutions or renewable energy. “We strongly believe that impact investing – how we understand it – is a powerful tool which complements our traditional work to improve livelihoods of rural communities. Direct investments into local SMEs have the potential to create much needed income and employment opportunities, and have a sustainable impact”, says Bernhard Kerschbaum, Head of Global Cooperation at HEKS/EPER.