Insights from the investment team: Emerging Markets show resilience in uncertain times

20/08/2020 Blog, Covid-19

On a recent webinar, Sébastien Juhen, Lead Portfolio Manager for the BlueOrchard Microfinance Fund (BOMF), and Matthew Sparkes, Chief Risk Officer and General Counsel, shared an update on the current situation for microfinance investing and their view on the current situation with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be a significant factor influencing economic and market outlooks. However, despite a challenging second quarter, many emerging markets are resuming economic activities and lifting lockdowns. As a result, many institutions have been going through the crisis much better than we had anticipated at the beginning of the pandemic. An important barometer in this context is the number of rescheduling requests from institutions. Since June, we have not received any of these.

A look at the markets

Many Asian markets continue to fare well with minimum disruption and partially or fully resumed economic activity. We have therefore selectively resumed disbursement activity in countries like India and Myanmar, where – despite lockdowns – the economy picks up again and people get back to work.

The picture is somewhat different with Latin America, which remains largely under strict lockdown. The region currently has the highest number of cases and hence experiences a significant economic impact. We are therefore proceeding cautiously in these markets. However, historically, these markets have been very resilient and we see even in the current difficult situation a number of our investees showing signs of recovery.

Our approach during challenging times

We remain agile and proactive in these challenging market conditions. Taking a long-term view, we continue to focus on investees that reflect our core strategy and help us maximize our impact. We remain focused on high-quality and long-term structural growth companies that we believe will emerge from this crisis in a stronger position.

With regards to new disbursements, we try to quickly adapt to this exceptional situation and work within the given limitations. As travel restrictions are in place in many countries where we operate, we are developing a new alternative framework to conduct diligences in order to continue the sourcing of investment opportunities.

A careful glimpse into the future

Despite some general stabilization and recommencing of business activity in many markets, the overall situation is still fluid. We, therefore, continue to closely monitor the situation with our teams in the respective regions and work closely with our investees to understand their needs and support them adequately.

 

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