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In brief: AIB and Foresight launch fund backing Ireland’s SMEs

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Published: 10 May 2022

Allied Iris Banks is the cornerstone investor in new €75m fund investing in SMEs contributing to Ireland’s decarbonisation. Plus WTW’s finance facility supports Melanesian fishing communities, and UNCDF’s latest initiatives

The IAB Foresight SME Impact Fun invests in SMEs contributing to Ireland’s greener future | Photo of Dublin by powerofforever on iStock

Allied Irish Banks (AIB) and sustainable infrastructure investment manager Foresight Group, have announced the launch of a fund to invest in SMEs that contribute to “a more sustainable future”.

As cornerstone investor, AIB has committed €30m to the AIB Foresight SME Impact Fund, which has a fundraising target of €75m.

The fund aims to stimulate job creation and deliver a greener future. It will typically provide equity investments of €2-€5m to businesses helping accelerate Ireland’s transition towards a low-carbon economy.

Bernard Fairman, Executive Chairman of Foresight Group Holdings Limited, commented: “As a sustainability-led alternative asset and private equity manager, Foresight has been supporting UK SMEs for many years, including in their transition to a low-carbon economy. We are delighted to now be partnering with AIB to expand this support to SMEs across Ireland.”

WTW supports Melanesian fishing communities

Advisory firm Willis Towers Watson (WTW) has announced the launch of a financial initiative to safeguard vulnerable fishing communities in Melanesia against climate change.

Melanesia is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change, with the coastal populations of Fiji and Papua New Guinea facing a range of sustainable development challenges.

Despite this, there is currently little in the way of climate risk protection available in the region beyond insurance policies. The new finance facility developed by WTW, in collaboration with WWF, aims to close this gap through the creation of financial ‘shock-absorbing’ products tailored for fishing communities, with payouts that can be deployed faster at the most critical time. 

Rowan Douglas, head of the climate and resilience hub at WTW, said: “Ocean-related risk means that coastal communities are especially vulnerable to climate change. For communities of low-lying atolls and coastal areas of main islands in the Melanesian region, adaptation to climate change is an essential priority, and we are pleased to be exploring how risk understanding tools and risk transfer products from the insurance sector can enhance the resilience of vulnerable communities.”

Bamboo-UNCDF initiative secures donor funding

Developing institutions representing Canada, the United States, Norway, Luxembourg, Sweden and the Nordic states through the Nordic Development Fund, have committed $60m in the Bamboo-UNCDF Initiative for the Least Developed (BUILD) blended finance initiative, as well as its associated technical assistance facility.

BUILD finances SMEs in the world’s least developed countries to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Managed by Bamboo Capital Partners, the fund provides growth capital to businesses identified and supported by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).

The BUILDER Technical Assistance Facility is managed by UNCDF, which will be closely involved in pipeline generation, portfolio building, and business advisory support to businesses.

In a separate development, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the UNCDF will help 4,000 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Nepal digitise their operations.

Thanks to combined funding of $350,000 from SDC and UNCDF, Nepali e-commerce platforms Sastodeal and Thulo will receive performance-based grants and technical assistance to provide access to digital marketplaces for last-mile MSMEs.

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