SOURCE: Norwegian Microfinance Initiative

December 02, 2008 03:01 ET

Norwegian Microfinance Initiative Establishes NMI Global and Frontier Funds

OSLO, NORWAY--(Marketwire - December 2, 2008) -

Richard Weingarten Appointed Managing Director


2 December 2008

The Norwegian Microfinance Initiative (NMI) today announced the formation of its two investment funds: NMI Global Fund and NMI Frontier Fund. NMI is a new and unique strategic partnership between the Norwegian public and private sectors. NMI will seek to contribute to the empowerment of poor people and to the creation of jobs, wealth, and economic and social sustainability in developing countries by providing financing directly and indirectly for microfinance institutions (MFIs).

NMI Global Fund will focus its investments on more mature microfinance institutions in selected regions and developing countries. Its primary thrust will be to support and encourage the rapid growth of these institutions, particularly where they seek to penetrate new markets and geographic areas and to provide additional products and services to new and existing clients. As a general matter, NMI Global Fund will invest through other investment funds and in partnership with other fund managers.

NMI Frontier Fund will invest primarily in young and emerging MFIs and in the development of new financial products and services that can benefit poor and low income people. NMI Frontier Fund will restrict its activities to a limited number of countries where many poor and low income people live. It will seek to assure that many of the world's poorest people have broader access to a broader range of financial services. NMI Frontier Fund will invest directly in young and emerging MFIs as well as in other funds and in partnership with other fund managers. The Frontier Fund will frequently make equity investments in portfolio companies and will seek to play an active role as an investor.

The total capital committed to NMI Global Fund and NMI Frontier Fund is NOK 600 million (approximately USD 100 million). Norfund, a development finance institution owned by the Government of Norway, has committed one half of this total funding, and the private sector partners have committed the balance. The private sector partners are DnB NOR (through its Vital insurance and asset management subsidiary), Ferd, KLP and Storebrand. Each of these investors brings considerable investment and financial services industry experience to NMI and will be represented on NMI's Board and Investment Committees. NMI will also be able to provide professional and technical assistance to its support its portfolio companies through the NMI Professional Assistance Facility. This special facility will be funded through NORAD, the Norwegian Government's international development agency, and administered by NMI.

NMI has recently appointed Richard Weingarten to be the Managing Director of NMI. Mr. Weingarten was most recently the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF). UNCDF is an independent investment fund affiliated with the United Nations Development Programme. UNCDF makes investments in the Least Developed Countries and helps these countries to build inclusive financial sectors in part by investing in young and emerging MFIs. Prior to joining UNCDF, Mr. Weingarten was the Senior Vice-President for Finance and Development at the College Board, a not-for-profit organization in New York City that has more than 3500 colleges and universities as its members. Mr. Weingarten was also a Managing Director of Bear Stearns & Co., Inc. and the Director of Corporate Finance for the Southeastern Region of the United States. Mr. Weingarten has extensive background in investment banking, venture capital, and law, and he has provided financial advisory services and worked in management positions in both the private and not-for-profit sectors on a global basis. Mr. Weingarten has a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University and a Juris Doctor from the Antioch School of Law.

NMI Global Fund and NMI Frontier Fund expect to make their first investments in the first quarter of 2009. For additional information regarding NMI, please visit the NMI website at, or contact NMI at 47-22-99-6231.

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