November 24, 2020
Finnfund makes a 5.5 million USD senior loan investment in Early Dawn Microfinance Co., Ltd. (DAWN), the third largest microfinance company in Myanmar in terms of client outreach. The financing will support DAWN’s expansion in underserved townships and peri-urban areas. DAWN started as a Save the Children Myanmar Microfinance Program in 2002 and has since then worked to improve financial inclusion by offering group loans to low-income women, and more recently through individual loans to small businesses. This is Finnfund’s third investment in the microfinance sector in Myanmar, one of the poorest countries of Southeast Asia where almost 70% of the population lack access to formal financial service. The rapidly expanding microfinance market in Myanmar presents interesting opportunities for impact investors like Finnfund.
“Finnfund’s investment supports our vision of becoming the best microfinance institution in Myanmar, improving the lives of the families we serve”, says CEO Ravi Tissera from DAWN. “Thanks to our extensive branch network, we are able to reach even the most vulnerable groups in rural areas.”
“During the investment process, we’ve been impressed by DAWN’s commitment to responsible and sustainable conduct of business. During the pandemic DAWN acted quickly in mobilizing a COVID-19 response team and rolling out a business continuity plan”, says Finnfund’s Investment Manager Ulla-Maija Rantapuska. “They have not only minimized the impact on their business but also limited the disruption to clients’ businesses.”
DAWN has for example created a new product called “Emergency Top-Up Loan” to support clients’ businesses that have been impacted negatively by coronavirus. The company has also rescheduled repayments, provided prepaid loans and set up helpdesks in response to the pandemic.
“Finnfund is committed to investing in businesses that advance gender equality”, says Rantapuska. DAWN has a strong gender focus: Almost all of their clients are women, and 70% of the staff are women. DAWN offers a clear career path from loan officers to trainers and from middle management to senior management. 66% of senior management and 60% of board members are female. “These numbers are unique even in the microfinance sector in Myanmar.”
Earlier this year, DAWN was chosen as Myanmar’s best in microfinance by a leading financial industry publication for its continuing transformation into a digital financial institution, and its efforts to provide quality financial services to low-income female microentrepreneurs and small business owners across Myanmar.
Investment Manager Ulla-Maija Rantapuska, tel. +358 41 536 5631, ulla-maija.rantapuska (a) finnfund.fi
Focused on microentrepreneurs and small businesses, Early Dawn Microfinance Company Limited (DAWN) was one of the earliest MFIs established in Myanmar. It was originally launched in 2002 as a program under Save the Children International. In 2015, Accion International, the Dutch Development Bank, FMO, and Triodos Investment Management formed a consortium and invested in DAWN to establish it as a premier institution that could serve as a model for the country’s nascent microfinance industry and influence the development of the sector. Since then DAWN has grown to be one of the largest MFIs in Myanmar, and is working to expand and improve its services with innovative models to new market segments and geographies, while increasing its services in existing areas of operations. DAWN is registered with the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry and operates with a deposit-taking license granted by the Financial Regulatory Department.