Dutch impact investment fund takes stake in US development bank

The Sustainability Finance Real Economies fund, also known as the SFRE fund, has purchased an equity stake of $7.5m in Southern Bancorp, a community and rural development bank based in the United States.

This forms the fund’s first investment since its management was handed over to Justina Alders-Sheva, fund manager at Dutch asset management firm Triodos Investment Management since 1 January 2018.

Southern Bancorp remains a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), which initially launched the SFRE fund in March 2015.

The business combines traditional banking and lending services with financial development tools ranging from credit counseling to public policy advocacy making therefore Southern Bancorp supporting financial growth of underserved families and communities.

The SFRE fund is said to be the first global open-ended investment fund created to deploy long-term and mission aligned capital to support the growing segment of values-based banks, and expand their impact and reach.

“Values-based banks focus on serving individuals and enterprises in the real economy whilst delivering a triple bottom line of prosperity, planet and people,” Triodos explains.

“This investment from the SFRE Fund marks a new opportunity for Southern Bancorp, Inc. to attract other institutional investors that share our values, said Darrin Williams, CEO of Southern Bancorp.

“Southern is proud to have such a mission aligned shareholder like the SFRE Fund supporting our expansion into new markets throughout the American Mid-South that need our unique brand of financial development and access.”

“I’m pleased that we are off to a good start in managing the SFRE fund with this first investment in Southern Bancorp. It is truly a great addition to SFRE’s portfolio, not only because it is a very inspirational organisation, but also because we have now invested for the first time in the emerged markets. I look forward to adding many more of these mission-aligned financial institutions to our portfolio in my new role as fund manager of the SFRE fund”, commented Justina Alders-Sheya.

As of 1 January 2018, total capital committed to the fund amounted to $44m. The SFRE fund has set a target of growing AUM to $300m by 2028.

Adrien Paredes-Vanheule
Adrien Paredes-Vanheule is deputy editor and French-Speaking Europe Correspondent for InvestmentEurope, covering France, Belgium, Geneva and Monaco. Prior to joining InvestmentEurope, he spent almost five years writing for various publications in Monaco, primarily as a criminal and financial court reporter. Before that, he worked for newspapers and radio stations in France, in particular in Lyon.

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