©Qotto A customer of the start up at her home presents the energy kit worth 1000€ to be reimbursed in 3 years.

©Qotto A customer of the start up at her home presents the energy kit worth 1000€ to be reimbursed in 3 years.

48th Midi de la Microfinance et de l'inclusion financière

The impact investing moment

"Develop innovative financing for a balance between sustainable and profitable. »

The 48th Midi de la microfinance, organised by ADA at Banque de Luxembourg with the support of the InFiNe.lu network and the Luxembourg Development Cooperation, was transformed into the Midi of impact investing on Thursday 27th February. Jean-Philippe De Schrevel, Founder and Managing Partner of Bamboo Capital Partners (a $400 million Luxembourg investment fund) and Jean-Baptiste Lenoir, co-founder and Chairman of Qotto, a Franco-African energy tech company, discussed together the necessary symbiosis between investment, innovation and inclusion, in order to improve the daily life of the population at the base of the pyramid.

It is with the concrete example of Qotto "a company that changes the game, that has an impact on people's lives" according to Axel De Ville, advisor to ADA and moderator of the discussion, that this Midi started. This company, present in Benin and Burkina Faso, provides very good quality solar kits to poor households, who will pay with a microcredit of less than a dollar a day, via their mobile phone. Thanks to this kit, rural populations make a long-term investment in their daily lives and no longer have to spend fortunes on the generator that needs to be supplied with oil. They have access to clean energy that costs them 4 times less. Moreover, some of them can earn money or simply pay for the kit by making the energy available to the other inhabitants of the village. 

A total of 10,000 people in rural areas have access to light, internet and financial services thanks to the start up that will be marketing these products from 2016. In a world where one billion people live without electricity, both the need and the market seem endless. "In fact, we have decentralized a service that is necessary to live and to undertake with micro-infrastructures, solar kits that can last 15 years," explains Jean-Baptiste Lenoir, whose company has a positive EBITDA. 

The urgency of public-private partnerships

"Beyond the commercial success, I am proud to think of those children who can read at night, because one of our light bulbs is equivalent to 40 candles," adds the entrepreneur. "It's a very strong new trend," agrees Jean-Philippe De Schrevel. "It's a financially promising investment with colossal social impacts," of which three of the six impact investing funds are venture capital funds.  "The private sector will be necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals" by joining public and private funds for mixed financing. Local actors such as governments and banks also have their role to play. The President of Qotto also recalled that he has recently started to commercialize its services in partnership with the largest microfinance institution in Burkina Faso, which he met thanks to the SAM (African Microfinance Week), organized by ADA in Ouagadougou last year.

Africa needs innovations in order to develop and therefore funding for its innovations. For this, banks need to change their investment perspective and focus on the medium / long term (and not the short term)". "Faced with the climate emergency, faced with the social emergency, we can no longer wait for a track record," says Jean-Philippe De Schrevel. "Those who will not adapt will not be part of the solutions, they will be part of the problem. The founder of Bamboo Capital insists "that there are no more excuses for the private sector not to invest. Their only risk is to lose clients and the market, if they do not adapt financial needs to the needs on the ground and join the impact investment movement". "They will become dinosaurs," he adds.

Innovation hailed in Luxembourg

The financial sector will therefore have to change its perspective, following the example of Banque de Luxembourg, which has been awarded the label of responsible bank by the magazine Euromoney. Manuel Tonnar, Director of Directorate for Development and Humanitarian Affairs, thus welcomed the two interlocutors, "both investors and innovators, both visionaries, both for sustainable development". "They see opportunities when others see it as a risk," he added, recalling that Luxembourg has invested precisely 5 million euros in the impact investment fund ABC, managed by Bamboo Capital from Luxembourg.


From 25 to 27 May 2020, on the sidelines of the Assises de la Coopération dedicated to innovation, ADA is organising an Inclusive Innovation Village at the European Convention Center. This event, free and open to all, will be an opportunity to meet 30 innovators who are implementing ideas to help disadvantaged populations around the world. The 49th Midi de la Microfinance will also be organised in this framework on May 27th.


About Qotto:

Launched in 2016, this start-up provides essential services to which 800 million Africans still do not have access, empowering rural and peri-urban populations in West Africa. Qotto develops and operates a platform, designed to make these services accessible to the entire population at the bottom of the pyramid:

  • Access to electricity: the sale (on a lease basis) of solar kits provides access to an affordable source of energy. More than 10,000 people are already benefiting from these services. Some of them monetize this asset by generating income, reselling energy to their neighbors, recharging mobile phones.
  • Internet access: a technical solution that provides 4G quality internet access in rural areas. This solution also allows customers to resell bandwidth to their neighbours.
  • Financial services to run its solar kit business: customer knowledge and credit rating solutions.  The company thus accumulates detailed knowledge of its customers' financial habits. Thanks to this knowledge, Qotto is able to design a range of financial services adapted to their needs and means and is ready to deploy them. 

With a global service offering, based on its technological platform and peer-to-peer logic, Qotto's approach differs from that of incumbent energy players, telcos or banks, who remain on centralized and hierarchical designs of their network, or that of new entrants and their "solar home system", who struggle to make their unique product model profitable.

To make this vision a reality, the founders, Jean-Baptiste Lenoir and Fabrice de Gaudemar, have brought together an experienced and complementary team, and today more than 150 people have been working successfully in Benin and Burkina Faso (6 commercial poles) for almost two years. Through its action, Qotto has already changed the lives of more than 10,000 people.

About Bamboo Capital Partners :

Bamboo Capital Partners is a commercial private equity firm that makes significant investments. It finds game-changing companies and then applies a mix of geographic and sector expertise to achieve financial and social returns. Specializing in energy, healthcare and financial services on a global scale, Bamboo has offices in Luxembourg, Geneva, Bogota, Nairobi and Singapore.

Since its launch in 2007, Bamboo has proven that private capital can be used profitably as an effective tool for change. It manages nearly $400 million with a portfolio of companies in more than 30 countries.

 

Relive the 48th Midi in pictures :


Pictures by Olivier Minaire

Speakers of the Midi

Jean-Philippe de Schrevel – Founder and Managing Partner, Bamboo Capital Partners

Jean-Philippe de Schrevel is the Founder and a Managing Partner at Bamboo Capital Partners. Jean-Philippe has dedicated most of his career to the development of the “impact investing” field of which he is considered to be a global pioneer, having launched 8 investment funds and raised over a billion USD to date across a variety of asset classes (fixed income, private equity, venture capital, structured finance) and many sectors (microfinance, energy, healthcare, education, agribusiness, affordable housing). Jean-Philippe’s journey stems from early personal exposure to extreme poverty while travelling, working and living in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. His work objectives are driven by deeply rooted faith and values and an ambition to contribute to solving at scale some of the most critical problems of our planet. Realizing “investments that matter” is the path he has chosen to follow some 20 years ago. Jean-Philippe notably co-founded in 2001 BlueOrchard Finance (a pioneer commercial lender to Microfinance banks) and worked at McKinsey & Co, the UN as well as for various NGOs. He holds a MBA from the Wharton School of Business and speaks fluently French, English and Spanish.


Jean-Baptiste Lenoir – Co-founder & President, Qotto

"It was in Somalia and Darfur with Action Against Hunger that I realized one thing: industry is not meeting the needs of a large part of Africans. And yet it has the capacity to do so. The 4 billion people who live on less than $2 a day have needs and can finance them with the right model! »

During his engineering studies, in 1993, Jean-Baptiste went to Burkina Faso for a few months to build a school. He discovers the energy of the country and the continent. After a few years in the telecom industry, where he saw the internet revolution, Jean-Baptiste decided to leave again. In 2003, it is in Somalia and Kenya that he directs the operations of Action Against Hunger.
In spite of himself, he experiences life outside the electricity grid and the difficulties that this entails.

Back in France, Jean-Baptiste resumed his career in the telecom industry, notably as Sales Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Thomson Telecom.

In 2012, during his MBA at Essec, Jean-Baptiste became aware of the immense needs of the populations of Sub-Saharan Africa. He launches into rural electrification and draws on his past experiences in Africa and in industry.

In 2016 he co-founds Qotto with his friend Fabrice de Gaudemar. At Qotto Jean-Baptiste focuses on the commercial, marketing and management aspects of the teams and the deployment of operations in Africa.


 

Axel de Ville – Executive Advisor, ADA, Luxembourg

Axel de Ville is currently Executive Advisor for ADA, an NGO specialized in microfinance and entrepreneurship. From 2013 to 2016, he was working in Dakar as Head of the UNCDF Regional Office for West and Central Africa and then Deputy Director of the Regional Office of UN Women for the same region. Prior to this experience in West Africa, he was Executive Director of the NGO ADA in Luxembourg for more than ten years and during this period he also created and chaired the investment fund LMDF - Luxembourg Microfinance and Development Fund. 
His professional career led him to work in Mexico and Belgium in the private sector and then in Romania, Djibouti, Luxembourg and Dakar in the field of development cooperation and poverty alleviation. This career path has allowed him to acquire a solid management experience and an in-depth knowledge of development issues, inspired by Africa, Latin America and Asia. He has also been administrator of various networks and impact investment funds, involving both public and private sector actors. 
At the academic level, he holds a Master's degree in Applied Economics from the University of Leuven, Belgium. He also participated in an exchange program with Georgetown University, Washington D.C. 


Manuel Tonnar – Director of the Directorate for Development and Humanitarian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Luxembourg

Manuel Tonnar is a Luxembourgish national and has been Director of the Directorate for Development and Humanitarian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs since 2017, while from 2013 he had been Deputy Director. He joined the Directorate in 2004, where he was successively in charge of multilateral aid programs, cooperation with NGOs and bilateral aid programs in Asia, before being appointed general coordinator of all aid programmes in 2009. Before entering the Luxembourgish Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Manuel worked for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP/UNCDF) as a program officer in Vietnam and Mali in the areas of decentralization, private sector development and microfinance. From 1997 to 1999, he worked as a commercial manager for blast furnaces innovation projects at Paul Wurth S.A., Luxembourg. Manuel is a member of the Board of Directors and of the Audit Committee of Lux-Development. He is Alternate governor of the International Fund for Agricultural Development as well as a member of the Board of Directors of the Luxembourg Microfinance Development Fund and the Luxembourg Inclusive Finance Network. Manuel holds an M.A. in Economics (1996) from the Université des Sciences Sociales Toulouse I and an M.B.A. in International Business Management (1997) from the Institut Commercial de Nancy and the Universidad La Salle of Mexico.


Mélanie Mortier – Sr Portfolio Manager-Private Banking Investments, Banque de Luxembourg 

Mélanie Mortier joined Banque de Luxembourg in 2018 as part of the Private Banking Investments team. One of her key responsibilities is socially-responsible investment fund mandates.  Mélanie has a degree in Management from Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, and has more than 17 years of experience in the Luxembourg financial sector.

 


This 48th Midi de la microfinance is organised with the support of the Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, and the InFine.lu network, and in collaboration with the Banque de Luxembourg.
The Midis de la microfinance are held during lunch breaks, between 12.00 and 14.00. Their agenda includes the presentation by an inclusive-finance expert of a study or a practical case, which is followed by a questions and answers session with the audience. At the end, a lunch is offered to all the participants.

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