The crucial role of our Investment Managers

Time to shine a light on a position that is essential for us to carry out our missions: the job of Investment Manager. Our Investment Managers identify, screen and build our investment portfolios in developing countries. Thanks to their meticulous work, we can provide rapid assistance to many SMEs and producers in rural areas, who are all too often forgotten by traditional financing systems. Helping us shed some light on this painstaking work is Michael Mussau, one of our Investment Managers based in Africa, who took the time to answer some of our questions.

What are the tasks of an Investment Manager?

Being an Investment Manager for an organization with a social impact such as Alterfin means going into the field to identify and assess potential partners – a process we call 'due diligence' – and to find organizations whose visions and missions match ours. Investment Managers are tasked with identifying, screening and compiling a portfolio of transactions for Alterfin to invest in. Presenting good candidates to the Investment Committee (IC) is never easy, but it's always exciting. It's an opportunity to reflect on whether you've done a good job during the due diligence phase, and whether or not to move the application forward. If the IC is convinced and approves a candidate, the real challenge for us begins. We have to ensure that the client uses the funds for the intended purpose, that the loan is repaid, that they don't stray from their mission, and in the longer term, that they continue to grow so they can get more funding from Alterfin.

Michael, you are based in Nairobi, Kenya. Why is it important to be locally based?

The most important aspect of being locally based is that it saves a lot of travel time to meet partners. This helps us to find a good balance between family life and the necessary support for our partners. Direct contact helps us to build strong relationships with our partners. And what better way to witness first-hand the passion these people have for their work than by meeting them face-to-face on a regular basis?

How are the partners coping with COVID-19 and how is Alterfin helping them cope?

For most of them, it's been a very trying time. So far, they've been coping with the situation by adhering to government regulations on social distancing, and by managing the resources made available to them prudently to ensure that activities (harvesting, production or processing) are not affected by the pandemic.

In addition, it should be noted that in the event of a drop in production or sales, producers have responded by informing stakeholders (mainly lenders) of potential shortcomings and coming up with solutions quickly through dialogue. For some of them, having their Alterfin loans restructured, along with an adjustment of their repayment schedules, has allowed them to stay afloat.

What is your role in the Council on Smallholder Agricultural Finance (CSAF)?

Along with two other colleagues, I was appointed as a member of this council. The CSAF is a sectoral council focused on the creation of a prosperous, sustainable and transparent financial market that meets the financing needs of rural small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries. The aim of the CSAF is to exchange knowledge, identify best practices and create standards for the sector.

Our roles and responsibilities on this council are to develop and maintain the annual work schedule at the regional level with input from global members and regional representatives.

We're also charged with coordinating regional meetings and ensuring an appropriate structure in terms of objectives, timing and responsibilities. We also aim to engage regional representatives from all member countries proactively in these activities. Finally, we communicate regularly with global members and regional steering committees to ensure information sharing and coordination.

Strategic priorities are approved at the global level over the course of the annual cycle and on the basis of contributions from each member.

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