Symbiotics Papers

Symbiotics research papers and knowledge sharing on our experience in Microfinance & SME impact.

Free public research papers published regularly on specific themes or broader perspectives linked to our work in microfinance and SME impact investing.

Apr, 18 2018 The Financial Performance of Impact Investing Through Private Debt

The Financial Performance of Impact Investing Through Private Debt In this new report, the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) and Symbiotics present the first comprehensive analysis of the financial performance of private debt impact investment funds. The report sheds light on the business model, investment strategies, financial performance, and impact measurement practices of two types of funds: Private Debt Impact Funds (PDIF) investing primarily in emerging markets and Community Development Loan Funds (CDLF) exclusively investing in the United States 
 
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Mar, 28 2018 Why Microfinance Matters to Investors

This white paper explores different factors that will contribute to a new investment paradigm over the coming decades, namely demographics, credit markets, and the global internet connectivity. As no investor portfolio is immune to these dynamics, our publication makes a case for why microfinance investments make sense in light of these global challenges and how it offers investors a solution to long-term challenges. 
 
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Mar, 28 2018 Going Unhedged in Frontier Markets

Through its investment practice and experience, Symbiotics has moved one step further: building unhedged local currency portfolios for clients. The company has originated 420 transactions for more than USD 600M volume in unhedged investments since 2010. Through a historical analysis of hedging costs and currency movement, it is observed that investors could have benefitted from a material premium, rewarding them for such risk taking over time. Since 2005, this premium for unhedged investing would average at 3.7%, sometimes reaching 10% for a diversified basket portfolio. On the contrary, a hedged strategy would result in a premium of 2.5% at most during periods of strong local currency weakness. 
 
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Mar, 28 2018 Managing and Measuring Social Performance

This new white paper builds on Symbiotics’ experience on the topic of social performance, shedding light on the rationale behind our social narrative. It describes the set of tools and practices that we use internally to measure and manage the social performance of our investments in microfinance, both at our investees’ and investors’ levels. 
 
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Sep, 26 2017 Symbiotics 2017 MIV Survey

Symbiotics 2017 MIV Survey The 2017 Symbiotics Microfinance Investment Vehicles (MIV) Survey provides a detailed overview of key market trends about microfinance offshore investments. More than 95 MIVs have participated in this 11th annual survey which covers 94% of the total MIV market estimated at USD 13.5 billion as of December 2016. This survey allows microfinance investors and fund managers to benchmark themselves and improve their knowledge of the industry. 
 
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Dec, 23 2016 Microfinance Funds: 10 Years of Research & Practice

Microfinance Funds: 10 Years of Research & Practice This research reflects back on 10 years of data and analysis on microfinance investment vehicles (MIVs), shedding light on their progress during the period 2006-2015. It serves as a landmark publication in not only understanding MIVs’ role as incubators for foreign investments in emerging microfinance markets, but also contextualizes their future outlook in contributing to a greater degree of financial inclusion in the developing world. 
 
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Sep, 12 2016 Symbiotics 2016 MIV Survey

Symbiotics 2016 MIV Survey This unique study provides asset managers, investors and academia alike with the latest information of most of the world’s microfinance fund activity in emerging markets. The 10th edition of the Symbiotics MIV Survey gathered a record participation rate with 93 out of 113 identified Microfinance Investment Vehicles (MIVs). The combined market size of these 93 MIVs is USD 11 billion as of December 2015, representing 95% of the total MIV universe which is estimated at USD 11.6 billion. 
 
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Dec, 14 2015 Swiss Microfinance Investments Report

Swiss Microfinance Investments Report This report aims at contributing to the transparency of the microfinance investment universe. It complements the global, annually published aggregate report on microfinance investment vehicles (MIVs) that Symbiotics has been producing since 2007, and shows disaggregated data for the Swiss subset of global MIVs. It follows a first report on this subset published by Symbiotics in collaboration with the Swiss Development Agency (SDC) in December 2011. 
 
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Sep, 16 2015 Symbiotics 2015 MIV Survey

Symbiotics 2015 MIV Survey The 2015 Symbiotics Microfinance Investment Vehicles (MIV) Survey provides a detailed overview of key market trends about microfinance offshore investments. More than 80 MIVs have participated in this 9th annual survey which covers 96% of the total MIV market estimated at USD 10.4 billion as of December 2014. This survey allows microfinance investors and fund managers to benchmark themselves and improve their knowledge of the industry. 
 
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May, 12 2015 Microfinance Investment Vehicles Disclosure Guidelines: Additional Indicators

The present document contains sets of new financial and ESG indicators that serve as a guideline for the reporting of microfinance investment vehicles. The new performance indicators were developed by Symbiotics in collaboration with a few other microfinance asset managers in response to a quick evolution of the microfinance investment industry. They complement the consensus guidelines put together by CGAP and other industry stakeholders in 2010 (i.e: “Microfinance Investment Vehicles Disclosure Guidelines 2010”).  
 
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Aug, 26 2014 2014 Symbiotics MIV Survey Report

The 2014 Symbiotics MIV Survey aims to provide comprehensive market trends and peer group analysis on the microfinance off-shore investment industry. This eight annual survey compiles information from 80 Microfinance Investment Vehicles (MIVs) which have reported their data as of December 2013, using the CGAP MIV Disclosure Guidelines. The report allows fund managers and microfinance investors to benchmark themselves across a variety of key financial and social performance indicators. The study sample covers 94% of the total MIV market asset base, which is estimated at USD 9.9 billion.  
 
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Feb, 13 2014 Symbiotics Microfinance Index (SMX): 10-year Track Record Outperforming Mainstream Asset Classes

Over the past decade, Symbiotics’ in-house microfinance index, the SMX, has served as an industry benchmark for microfinance fund managers and institutional investors. This paper traces the risk-return profile of the index since January 2004 and compares it with other asset classes. The results underline the effectiveness of microfinance investments in generating stable absolute returns while providing investors with portfolio diversification.  
 
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Sep, 24 2013 Impact Investing in Latin America / La Inversión de Impacto en América Latina

Symbiotics initiated this study in order to determine investor interest and projections for impact investment in Latin America, as well as to raise awareness of the growth and importance of this kind of investment in the region. Given shared interests and objectives, Symbiotics partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank/Multilateral Investment Fund (IDB/ MIF), Codespa, Forum Empresa and Oxfam to conduct this study. 
 
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Jul, 24 2013 Symbiotics 2013 MIV Survey Report

The 2013 Symbiotics MIV Survey, the seventh consecutive review of Microfinance Investment Vehicles, provides key performance indicators and peer group analysis, using the CGAP MIV Disclosure Guidelines, on the microfinance off-shore investment industry. The Survey is based on December 2012 information reported by MIVs and focuses on two dimensions: financial and social performance. This year’s survey regroups data from 84 funds, covering 93% of the MIV market asset base.  
 
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Apr, 17 2013 Small Enterprise Impact Investing

Small Enterprise Impact Investing This book was written as an introductory research guide to small enterprise impact investing, with the objective of defining this new investment theme and mapping its universe. It offers information for investors and other people who are interested in this space and helps to provide further transparency and understanding of this topic.
Surprisingly, too little information or research is available to date for investors who are interested in this space; hopefully this book will help to provide further transparency and understanding of this topic.  
 
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Oct, 12 2012 Microfinance Investments

Microfinance Investments The book presents the two main arms of microfinance investments: microfinance institutions (MFIs) and microfinance investment funds (MIVs), describing in detail their respective markets, business models, risks, performance and impact. Several case studies are used to show concrete examples of successes and challenges in the industry. The book also reviews the evolution of the industry over time, from a narrower micro-credit story to a larger impact investing and sustainable finance narrative. 
 
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Jul, 13 2012 Symbiotics 2012 MIV Survey Report

The 2012 Symbiotics MIV Survey, the sixth consecutive review of Microfinance Investment Vehicles, provides key performance indicators and peer group analysis, using the CGAP MIV Disclosure Guidelines, on the microfinance off-shore investment industry. The Survey is based on December 2011 information reported by MIVs and focuses on two dimensions: financial and social performance.This year’s survey regroups data from 72 funds, covering over 90% of the industry. 
 
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Jan, 05 2012 Swiss Microfinance Investments Report

The report provides a current overview of microfinance investment activities performed by Swiss asset managers. Swiss Microfinance Funds invest primarily through private debt instruments in well-developed microfinance markets like Latin America & the Caribbean and Eastern Europe & Central Asia, accounting for 78% of total Microfinance Fund portfolios. Financial performance of Debt Microfinance Funds has remained relatively stable from 2004 to 2011 with an average yearly return to the investors of 4.21% in USD. Due to a lack of regulatory and political support, many Swiss Microfinance Funds managers continue to use Luxemburg as their preferred domiciliation for Microfinance Funds. 
 
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Aug, 16 2011 Symbiotics 2011 MIV Survey Report

The Symbiotics 2011 MIV Survey aims to provide the most in depth trend and peer analysis of the MIV market. It is based on December 2010 information reported by MIVs and it includes key data and industry benchmarks. The CGAP Microfinance Investment Vehicle Disclosure Guidelines are used as the reporting standard. The survey offers two levels of analysis, key market trends and peer group analysis, and focuses on two dimensions, financial performance and social performance. 
 
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Jul, 16 2010 Microfinance: New Sustainable Investment Opportunities

This article highlights the contribution of private investments for developing sustainable microfinance. Despite the current 2009 financial crisis, new Microfinance Investment Vehicles (MIVs) have been created every year since 2005 and have shown a stable financial performance. During the past four years, they have generated an average return of 5.36% per annum. However, as the microfinance sector is far from reaching its full potential, there is a clear need for more private investments in developing countries.  
 
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Jun, 02 2010 Microfinance, an opportunity for Socially Responsible Investment

In this article, we try to identify the reasons why private players invest in this sector. We argue that a greater involvement - while remaining “responsible” – of the private sector is necessary in order to continue the fight against banking exclusion. Microfinance creates social benefits by helping to democratize access to financial services in developing countries and offers a stable return with little correlation to financial markets. Over the past four years, the Microfinance Investment Vehicles (MIVs) have generated an average return of 5.4% a year, and in 2008 returns reached 6%. 
 
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Research Analysis Tools

The fund indexes, institution benchmarks and other market information displayed here are all Symbiotics designed analysis tools, created in-house by our analysts and experts. Symbiotics has one of the oldest track records in microfinance investment analysis dating back to the late 1990s; its indexes and benchmarks have been regularly used as markers by investors, asset managers, financial institutions and practitioners. These, as well as several other research products, are available through the Research Account. Click on the link below to find out more.

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