After nearly seven years of commercial fund investments, I wanted to apply my skills in an environment where my work would have an explicit focus on positive social and environmental impact as well as generating financial returns. I started by doing a pretty extensive search for impact investors in The Netherlands. Given the scale of investments I was used to working with, FMO was the logical choice.
In March 2013 I joined FMO’s Private Equity Africa team. What is particularly striking about business at FMO is the focus on the social and environmental impact of our investments, and the dedicated resources available to assess and facilitate this impact. There is also a willingness to take relatively higher risks in order to make investments in emerging markets, many of which are new for private equity investors. All of this, of course, in the service of creating sustainable development impact through our investments.
FMO is a unique institution. Compared to other impact investors, FMO is differentiated by the scale of its balance sheet and operations. Compared to other development finance institutions, FMO manages to remain highly entrepreneurial and pragmatic in its investment approach. Perhaps some of this comes from the very open and collaborative culture here.
There is a critical mass of professional people that are committed to the goals of the organization, and who see the benefit of working together in order to achieve them. Colleagues are willing to make time for each other, to support each other in professional development and in addressing the market: exchanging information, providing investment leads or giving feedback on opportunities sourced – even when there’s not immediately something in it for them.
I see a lot of opportunities for myself here at FMO, from both a professional and a more personal perspective. One of the unique things about FMO as an employer is the balance of value between what’s good for FMO and what’s good for the employees. I’ve seen the bank’s willingness to give people opportunities to develop themselves, for example by moving into very different types of roles. This is quite special, and allows people to see a wide future for themselves here.