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The Microfinance Funds

SEB contributes to socioeconomic development.

Microfinancing is a way of making capital available for people in developing countries, when starting or growing their business. At the same time it offers investors an attractive financial return.

SEB was a pioneer among Swedish banks when launching its first microfinance fund in 2013, and today the funds have contributed to supporting almost 3 000 000 jobs worldwide.

Businesses that have received financial services through SEB Microfinance Funds

Meet some of the people that our funds and partners help through microfinancing.

Samunnati, India & microfinance

Gratitude Farms is an Indian, agri-tech startup, working to spread organic farming methods.

Baobab, Ivory Coast & microfinance

Tamia is a hairdresser from the Ivory Coast who was able to take her business to the next level, with the help of a microloan.

Lulalend, South Africa & microfinance

Keneilwe Modisane is the CEO of Sizzling Catering in South Africa. Through a microloan, she was able to save her business when the pandemic struck.

Kenya: Jacinta, Magdalene and Felistus

Kenya Women Microfinance Bank (KWFT) has a particular focus on improving living conditions and strengthening women's economic status. Meet Jacinta, Magdalene and Felistus, three women that KWFT has helped through one of the first micro finance funds that SEB issued.

How microfinance funds work

In short, this is how microfinance funds work:

  • The microfinance fund is created, and investors, such as insurance companies and municipalities, place money in the fund. We offer microfinance funds in local currency, unhedged, to institutional investors.
  • The invested capital is forwarded to selected microfinance institutions around the globe. It is from these institutions that the entrepreneurs apply for loans.
  • The microfinance funds operate for a certain period of time, for example over a five year period, while the fund is running millions of people in developing countries get access to financing.
  • The fund is ended. The borrowers have gained a chance to change their lives through entrepreneurship. The investors have helped make a difference in these people's lives, plus they have earned interest on their money. 

What is microfinance?

Microfinance is the provision of access to capital and financial services for unemployed or low-income individuals and businesses, with the goal of improving social and economic development, generally in lower-income economies. Microfinance is offered in the form of credit, savings, remittances, payment services, insurance, and other basic financial products. Microfinance extends the reach of financial markets where they would otherwise not go. It provides low-to-middle income entrepreneurs with services they need to start or grow a business, it also increases their capacity to absorb financial shocks, access goods of first necessity, accumulate assets, and invest in human capital such as health and education. 

About Symbiotics

SEB Microfinance funds are Feeder Funds managed by SEB Investment Management AB (SEB IMAB) acting as an Alternative Investment Fund Manager (AIFM) and Portfolio Manager. The Feeder Funds invest up to 100% of their assets into Symbiotics SICAV II – SEB Microfinance (Master Fund), which is managed by Symbiotics acting as AIFM and Portfolio Manager. In the Master Fund, Symbiotics has delegated certain portfolio management services to SEB IMAB, whereby SEB IMAB acts as Investment Manager. This means that SEB IMAB identifies and selects investments based on investment proposals made by Symbiotics and is responsible for making all investment decisions.

Symbiotics is the leading market access platform for impact investing in emerging and frontier markets, offering market research, investment advisory and asset management services to professional investors. Symbiotics currently employs over 160 people (>35 nationalities) and is headquartered in Geneva, with offices in Zurich, London, Amsterdam, Mexico City, Singapore, and Cape Town. Since 2004, Symbiotics has structured nearly 5,000 investment transactions, in over 450 financial institutions, across 90 emerging and frontier markets.

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