The Emerging Markets Impact Investment Fund trust (EMIIF) is a development financing mechanism and initiative of Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). It provides investment capital and technical assistance to financial intermediaries who, in turn, provide finance to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.
EMIIF is implemented by Sarona Asset Management, as the investment manager, in a Consortium with MEDA and VOLTA as technical assistance providers and Alinea Whitelum which assists in monitoring and evaluation.
EMIIF seeks to grow the impact investing and gender lens investing (GLI) market in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. It further seeks to increase the volume and impact of private capital flowing to the region to support inclusive and resilient economic development and gender equality.
EMIIF will invest in SME funds that target early and growth stage SMEs using a range of tools, such as loans and equity, and deploy innovative finance instruments to encourage additional investment into SME funds from private investors. It will also provide technical assistance to SME funds and SMEs to enhance their commercial potential and development impact.
In the Asia-Pacific region, SMEs make up over 95% of enterprises, employ about half of the workforce and contribute around 20% to national GDP in low-income countries.
There are approximately 12.5 million SMEs in the formal economy in East Asia and the Pacific. However, despite the importance of SMEs to growing economies, the global financing gap is estimated as approximately USD 287 billion. This financing gap is particularly acute for women, with around 70% of women-owned businesses being unserved or underserved by formal financial institutions. This gender finance gap is estimated at USD 68 billion.
EMIIF is one way that Australia is providing finance to promote development and prosperity in its region. EMIIF focuses on SMEs (defined as enterprises that have 150 or fewer employees) because they are the ‘engine room’ of economic growth. It is estimated that SMEs employ seven in ten people. Support for SMEs will support people in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific recover from the devastating economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To help address the gender financing gap, EMIIF will encourage investment in enterprises that are women-led, supply products or services that benefit women, or to adopt gender-friendly workplace policies. Through its investment strategy and investment processes, EMIIF will seek to set the standard for ‘gender lens investing’.
EMIIF, in its role of investor, market builder, and technical assistance provider, will grow the impact and gender lens investment market in collaboration with SME funds, SMEs, co-investors, and ecosystem actors in the South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.
EMIIF will initially target the following countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. It will invest across a variety of sectors including health, education, agriculture, financial inclusion, and access to small-scale renewable energy.
Achieving strong development impact, including progress on gender equality, is fundamental to EMIIF’s operations. The investment strategy embeds both impact and gender equality considerations to identify and make investments in SMEs that are women-led, provide products and services for women and girls, or promote gender equality in their workplaces.