In the early years of its existence, the Foundation focused on financing microfinance institutions, gradually specializing in smaller institutions, located in rural areas and mainly benefiting women who develop small income-generating activities.
In this interview you will discover the testimony of Sébastien Simonot, Investment Officer, who explains his job.
In a few words, what is your Investment Officer Job about?
The investment officer job consists of establishing and developing sustainable partnerships with microfinance institutions, and organisations that provide financial and non-financial services to low-income population.
A big part of our job is devoted to identifying these potential partners, through an in-depth analysis of their financial, social and environmental performances. The first phase is desk review, on a basis of the documents the institution sent us, and then on site during our due diligences missions. We also regularly exchange with the institutions we already have in our portfolio to evaluate the evolution of their financial, social and environmental performances, and to assess their financial and technical needs in order to strengthen our partnerships.
What was your path? Is there a typical career path to be an Investment Officer?
I started my career in commercial banking, first at Crédit Lyonnais, then at Crédit Agricole CIB. After a detour into the humanitarian field, I moved into the microfinance sector a dozen years ago, approximately when the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation was created. During these 12 years, I led management and consulting missions for microfinance institutions in Haiti and Africa. I joined the Foundation in the summer of 2020, and I cover for it several areas in Africa as well as the Middle East.
I would say that there is no typical career path at the Foundation. The Investment Officer profiles are varied, but they have a common trait. We all have training and experience in economics and finance, coupled with exposure to the field of development and humanitarian work.
What are the strengths of your job?
This job gives us the opportunity to observe the innovation that microfinance institutions bring to their services to vulnerable populations. Despite the difficult contexts in which they must operate. The in-depth analysis of these institutions, particularly through on-site visits, and meetings with their clients, reminds us of the Foundation’s ambitions: to promote social entrepreneurship and financial inclusion. Finally, on the cross-functional aspect of the job, an Investment Officer works with all the Foundation’s teams: Middle Office, Risk, Technical Assistance, and Communication.
Why did you choose the Foundation?
The sector of financial inclusion has grown considerably in the recent decades. Many funds exist to support these institutions, both financially and technically. From the outset, the Foundation has equipped itself with the tools to intervene with small institutions with a high social impact. On the other hand, it has been able to intervene in areas where many other operators did not intervene, in fragile countries, particularly from an economic, social and climatic point of view. Today we have significant feedback experience in many countries, particularly in Africa, which contributes to the strength of our identity.