‘By giving poor people access to the services they need to save, borrow and invest, the Nordic Microfinance Initiative will play a part in achieving the first and most ambitious of the sustainable development goals – to end poverty. Business development is essential for economic growth in developing countries, and it is one of the main priorities of Norwegian development policy. I am pleased that the new fund is now being organised in cooperation between the Nordic countries, and look forward to following its progress,’ said Mr Brende.

The NMI, which was previously called the Norwegian Microfinance Initiative, will invest on a commercial and socially sustainable basis in medium-sized financial institutions in East Africa and South and South-East Asia that have a potential for further growth.

It has already invested in the Kenyan Women’s Financial Trust, which offers financial services to 800 000 women in all parts of Kenya.

‘Microfinance is a vital development policy instrument. It gives poor people the opportunity to borrow money that they can invest in their own future in order to improve their living conditions.

‘I am very pleased that we have established this public-private partnership with both Norfund and IFU on board, so that we have a stronger capital base for this important work,’ said the Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs Kristian Jensen.

‘Since 2008, the Norwegian Microfinance Initiative has been providing funding to create employment and promote economic and social sustainability in developing countries. With IFU on the team, we can expand NMI into a leading Nordic platform for microfinance, develop microfinance institutions and provide financial services for even larger numbers of people.

‘And we can give priority to women, who are an important target group in development work,’ said Managing Director Kjell Roland in Norfund.

The private Nordic investors in NMI are providing 45 % of the total capital of NOK 715 million, while the remaining 55 % comes from Norfund and IFU. Ferd, one of Norway’s largest private companies, is one of the private investors.