Portfolio Partner Profile
Advance Global Capital
Advance Global Capital, Ltd (AGC) is an open-ended fund that provides debt financing to non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs) that offer financing solutions to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The Fund's strategy is based on the premise that SMEs, particularly those in developing countries, have a significant unmet need for financing. A second premise is that invoice discounting or factoring is uniquely suited to address this problem because it transfers credit risk from small, harder-to-finance businesses to the larger companies that buy their products.
AGC believes that the best way to reduce poverty is through sustained inclusive economic growth. AGC’s flagship fund puts capital to work in underserved communities worldwide by financing SMEs that lack sufficient access to credit and need it to thrive. The organization’s investments deliver tailored financing to local partners and flexible, working capital to SMEs so they can grow and continue to positively impact the local economies around them.
AGC focuses on targeting the following types of impact activities as they align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including: gender equality, decent work and economic growth, industry innovation and infrastructure, and reduced inequalities.
Calvert Impact has been working with AGC since 2017 and we have furthered our commitment by renewing and increasing our first investment in the fund in 2018 and 2022. Through our relationship with AGC, Calvert Impact is able to channel capital to financial intermediaries that serve a diverse group of SMEs and further scale impact to underserved communities.
Below are three profiles of SMEs supported by AGC and the impact the fund has had on local economies, women, and agriculture globally.
Featured Impact Story
Prepared ingredients and at home recipes from Colombian scale-up, Vive Agro
In 2022, Advance Global Capital worked with their partner institution to help a business in Colombia drive smart economic growth. AGC gained insight into how cashflow momentum is helping Vive Agro, an agricultural operations company that provides vegetables for at-home recipe kits and wholesale prepared ingredients for kitchens and several major restaurant chains.
In collaboration with a Bogota-based non-bank financial institution partner, Vive Agro’s recent developments include farming innovation methods and produce manufacturing in Colombia.
80% of the staff at the processing facility in Bogota are women, for whom flexible work schedules have been critical. Juan Felipe Arbelaez, co-founder of Vive Agro shares, “We offer flexible working which is attractive to women workers. Mothers are really hard workers because they need the money and want to work.” Vivie Agro works to ensure a well-balanced and respectful relationship between employees and employer, as the company continues to increase employment opportunities to meet demand.
“We believe that there is a link between Colombia’s wellbeing and the sustainability of its rural areas. That is why we recognize the importance of each and every contribution and promote fair and cohesive relationships. We support the development of small and medium-sized farms across the country. When you step through these doors you are making a difference to our country’s future. We select, wash, cut and pack in our state-of-the-art facilities and according to our customers’ needs, ensuring that our products are safe, traceable and high quality. We deliver products with purpose and cultivate recipe flavors, using our finest vegetables. We produce bespoke vegetables using clean and responsible farming methods.”
Building community and Colombia’s economy through Carnaval de Barranquilla
In December 2022, Advance Global Capital’s Co-CEO, Sudha Bharadia, visited their partner in Barranquilla, Colombia to learn how they are supporting Carnaval de Barranquilla. The festival is a year-round operation with traditions that are influenced by the Caribbean, Spanish, and African cultures, and is essential to Barranquilla’s economy. AGC’s partner financially supports the various aspects of the celebration from costume creation to float and accessory manufacturing. AGC’s partnership contributes to the economic development of the region, as over 55,000 jobs across media, crafts, theater, entertainment, tourism, and music are created to support the festival. Read more about Carnaval de Barranquilla here.
Expanding offerings in the Baltic region, a journey with Finora
One of AGC’s impact objectives is to strengthen local financial ecosystems. They have achieved this through their relationship with Finora, an Estonia-based partner, which began in 2018. In spring 2023, Finora shared details on their journey to becoming a bank. Finora had a mutually beneficial relationship with AGC that enabled them to expand their operations by outgrowing the partnership and seeking alternative means of raising capital. They value AGC’s position in the market because smaller lenders like Finora are constantly struggling to get funding from large banking institutions to support small businesses. Banks in their region are typically not supportive and as a result, AGC presents a reliable avenue as a way that non-bank lenders can get funding and continue the chain of impact to help SMEs.
Through the new factoring product, AGC helped Finora grow their portfolio over time to support more SMEs through a variety of services and accelerate their strategy, which led to Finora’s “graduation” from the portfolio and their success in becoming a bank. Learn more about their journey here.
Leveling the playing field by financing truckers in the heart of Europe
One of AGC’s Czechia-based partners helps to sustain small businesses — despite nearby military conflict and challenging economic times. By specializing in financing for individual truck drivers, AGC’s partner institution provides funding to SMEs operating in supply chain and logistics industries. The father-son team that runs the partner institution sought to modernize with fintech solutions to improve products and services and to optimize risk management. Using data analysis and automation, AGC’s partner offers instant risk modelling, allowing customers to receive payment of invoices within minutes. The simplicity and efficiency of the automated system gives customers peace of mind as limited working capital, 90-day invoice maturities, and expensive or unattainable bank financing are common issues that logistics companies in Europe face. AGC’s work with their partner institution has helped to support customers by providing them with the resources they need to grow their businesses. To learn more about AGC’s impact in the supply chain and logistical industries, visit the story here.
Austrofood - A Sustainable, Sweet Business that Thinks Locally and Delivers Globally
Austrofood, an Ecuadorian fruit producer, has shown tremendous resilience and innovation, successfully pursing both commercial and social impact goals throughout the pandemic. Founded 12 years ago in northern Ecuador by Santiago and Francisco Peña, the brothers began by purchasing land called Las Esmereldas. They selected the region both for the ideal climate and the opportunity to create a positive impact through stable employment for the local community. Since planting the first trees ten years ago, Austrofood has acquired 120 hectares and employs 80 people on the farm, in addition to another 80 people at the production plant in Quito. About one-third of the staff are women. They also offer their employees paid time off.
At the end of 2019, Austrofood started to sell into the US market. However, 2020 was a difficult year to expand into the US. AGC’s local financial partner started financing Austrofood’s invoices around the same time, and reliable access to working capital has been key to expanding their business into new markets so they knew they could cover bills for raw materials, staff, and processing expenses. The company is optimistic, as Santiago sees things starting to move again in 2021. Austrofood has also closed new deals with Spanish and German supermarket chains. According to Santiago, “Our team has put in hard work, and we have high hopes for 2021 and beyond.”