The not-for-profit has been working in some of the poorest parts of the Asia-pacific regions for decades, with a focus on agriculture and boosting opportunities for women.
“The Good Return approach and philosophy is that access to finance is an essential building block for anybody to develop their asset base and move out of poverty. But you need the skill set to be able to do that. And so education, alongside access to finance, is our key model.” says CEO, Shane Nichols.
In wealthy, developed countries we take for granted the access we have to capital. Even just the ability to put payments on a credit card to bridge the gap till payday, is a luxury many people don’t have. For those working in agriculture, in remote parts of Indonesia, Cambodia or the Solomon Islands, access to microfinance in the hard times can be life-changing.
The impact of Good Return comes as much from their work and relationships in-country, as it does from their injection of capital. They build local capacity to lend and manage risk, and when it’s needed, they offer funds.
“Our value-add is that we work very closely with the partners on the ground value-adding to their services, and also the ways that we invest are intended to be catalytic. The model stimulates local lenders in APEC countries to lend to SMEs that otherwise wouldn’t get access to finance. The model also identifies opportunities for women in agricultural value chains. And thirdly, it supports the local lenders to become more gender equitable in their practices.”
Doubling the Fund to $1 million
The fund was launched in 2020, with an initial capital raise of half a million dollars.
“We used those funds during the first three quarters of 2021 to guarantee loans via two lending institution partners. One’s a FinTech in Indonesia, another one’s a microfinance institution in Cambodia that’s moving into SME lending.” Shane says.
Amid the pandemic of 2020, both financial support, and strategic guidance, were in high demand.
And over that nine month period from January to September, this year, in the midst of COVID, the fund has created or sustained 465 jobs in Indonesia and Cambodia. We’ve helped 74 SMEs producing chillies, maize, rice and aquaculture value chains. They’ve received $1.38 million Australian dollars in funding that’s backed by Good Returns loan guarantees. And of those 74, SMEs, 46 of them are women led enterprises.” Shane says.
With the aim of compounding this positive impact, Good Return is now going out with a second capital raise of a half a million dollars.
“This raise will take our total fund to $1 million. And that will help fund our expansion of the programme to Fiji and Nepal. It’s expected to leverage 4 million in lending to at least 200 SMEs benefiting more than 5000 people living in poverty.” Shane says.
“The second round is open now (to sophisticated investors), and we’re eager to tell people more about it at Impact Connect next week.”