Rural Impulse Fund II, a microfinance fund of Belgian investment management company Incofin has raised $15.7 million in second and the final closing for its fund-  Rural Impulse Fund II. The microfinance focused investment firm has raised money from two institutional investors - PROPARCO, a French development financial institution and Storebrand- Nordic long-term savings and pension insurance specialist. The fund held a first close at $88 million, thereby meeting its targetted corpus of $103 million.

Successor to Rural Impulse Fund I, Rural Impulse Fund II was created in June 2010 with EUR 86 million to invest in microfinance institutions targeting rural areas. Incofin has six microfinance funds under its management totalling EUR 300 million.

PROPARCO which invests EUR 5 million in RIF II is a French development financial institution. Its investors include the French Development Agency (l’Agence Française de Développement) and private investors in France and abroad.

Storebrand is a Nordic long-term savings and pension insurance specialist. It has invested through two of its subsidiaries: Storebrand Livsforsikring AS located in Norway and SPP Livforsäkring AB from Sweden, each investing EUR 3 million.

RIF II is already backed by leading public and private financial institutions and investors, including DFIs (European Investment Bank, IFC, KfW Entwicklungsbank, NMI, FMO and BIO) and a range of private banks and investors; among others BNP Paribas Fortis, VDK spaarbank, Bank fuer Kirche und Caritas and Belgian trade union ACV-CSC Metea.

In 2010, it has invested Rs 4.5 crore in Fusion Microfinance, a Delhi based microfinance startup operating in the north-central states of India.  In 2009, it was part of the consortium which invested $5.88 million in Bangalore-based microfinance firm Grameen Koota. It co-invested wuth Luxembourg's MicroVentures Investments, Italy's MicroVentures SPA and existing investor Aavishkar Goodwell.

"Rural Impulse Fund II aims to become the worldwide reference for rural microfinance," it said in a statement. The fund invests in a range of microfinance intermediaries, including NGOs, credit unions, microfinance banks and institutions targeting small businesses.

Rural microfinance activities are challenged by seasonality, high administration costs of small loans and limited resources. Since the fund’s inception more than EUR 25 million has been invested in 16 microfinance institutions (MFIs) across 10 countries (Bolivia, Cambodia, Colombia, India, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, Tajikistan and Zambia). Through the MFIs in its portfolio RIF II reaches 592,131 clients. On average 71% of the clients of the MFIs RIF II has invested in, are living and working in rural regions, it added.  

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