Symbiotics was set up in 2004 and is a Swiss asset management company specialized in impact investing. With over USD 2.7bn of assets under management or advised, Symbiotics targets financial and microfinance institutions specialized in financing SMEs, microenterprises and low- and middle-income households in emerging countries. Since 2020, Symbiotics has been offering small financial institutions the possibility of issuing green, social and sustainable bonds via its MSME Bonds platform. Normally, they are too small to benefit from the green bond market, but this platform reduces issuing costs and provides access to a wide range of institutional investors.
PROPARCO’s objective in subscribing to this green and social bond is to promote the platform among private investors. “We are pleased to be assisting a recognized player like Symbiotics with the development of this innovative and inclusive project”, said Gregory Clemente, Chief Executive Officer of PROPARCO. “We need more green and social bonds for emerging markets. This project is fully in line with PROPARCO’s priorities and climate strategy”, he added.
Sébastien Duquet, Chief Investment Officer at Symbiotics, stated: “We are honored that with this first investment Proparco recognizes the uniqueness of the green bond issued by Symbiotics Platform. With the catalyst support of the Development finance institutions, Symbiotics hopes to issue a dozen of Green and sustainable bonds this year in frontiers countries, where few if none green bonds were issued so far. We hope also that the investment of Proparco will convince European investors, particularly French private institutional ones to increase their investment in impact investing in the coming years.”
PROPARCO has already worked alongside Symbiotics via a FISEA investment in 2010 in REGMIFA, a fund managed by Symbiotics, then indirectly through syndications with FMO (Access Bank Nigeria in 2020, Ecobank Transnational in 2017). This financing is thereby allowing PROPARCO to strengthen its partnership with Symbiotics, while working for the first time with Araratbank, the underlying entity of the borrowing.
Supporting the private sector and green projects in Armenia
Araratbank is an Armenian bank mainly targeting small and medium-sized enterprises. With a total balance sheet of USD 475.3m in 2020, it accounts for 5% of total assets in the banking sector. The loan agreement will allow it to finance social projects (loans to SMEs and microenterprises) and green projects: renewable energies (solar power plants), energy efficiency (upgrading buildings and houses to standards) and clean mobility (electric and hybrid vehicles). The project will contribute to the growth of some 70 microenterprises and SMEs in Armenia. This will help create some 1,300 jobs in the local economy and will contribute to the financial inclusion of underserved segments in the country.
This project will thereby contribute to SDGs n° 8 (“Decent work and economic growth”) and n° 13 (“Climate action”).