The Development Accelerator-DA (the Fund) aims to optimize development impact by providing early stage capital for projects in the Agri- food, water, health, and climate sectors in low- and middle-income countries. FMO, acting as the Fund Manager, has a risk management system in place to identify, measure, monitor and mitigate financial and non- financial risks. The Fund provides financing in the form of development contributions and its capital structure is based on a 100% contribution from the Dutch government. As such, the Fund is not exposed to any form of financial risk.
Total contribution from the Dutch government is €14,860k at 31 December 2020 (31 December 2019: €6,860k). For the year 2020, the contribution from the Dutch Government was €8,000k (2019: €1,500k). Total fund capital – which is the sum of the contribution by the government, less cumulative distributions, as well as net profits and losses from previous years and from the current year, – was €3,963k in 2020 (2019: €1,323k).
The key aspect for successful operation of the Fund is the selection of early stage projects or business activities with the potential to be turned into financeable long-term business opportunities. When investigating the opportunities, the Fund follows a structured approach consistent with its Investment criteria. The Fund Manager together with the Manager Project and Partnership Development reviews each transaction and provides an initial approval for an eligible project to be taken up on the pipeline and reviews whether the proposal is in line with the Fund’s investment criteria. The Engagement Committee, comprising of senior representatives of FMO NL Business, reviews and approves the financial proposals for every new transaction and asseses wether the proposal is in accordance with the Fund's investment criteria and strategic composition of the project portfolio. Each financial proposal is furthermore assessed in terms of specific counterparty risk, compliance risk (incl. KYC/FEC), performance risk, reputational risk, environmental and social risk as well as country risk. All financial proposals are accompanied by the advice of the Fund Manager and the Environmental and Social Officer.
The Fund can co-finance up to 50% of the project costs needed to advance early stage projects. Funding can be used either for analyzing and identifying the needs and potential of a project, assessing the feasibility of a project, pilot testing or supporting the procurement process. Beneficiaries of the Fund can either be Dutch businesses or project sponsors (public or private) in emerging markets. Together with the project developer, FMO NL Business experts engage in different stages of a project, with a focus on the impact and financeability of the project in order to increase the probability of materialization of the project. The Fund can also support Dutch startups providing innovate solutions to emerging markets.
Main objective is to manage liquidity and expenditures for the Fund in a way that results in informed decision making about funding requests from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Fund, and accountability and transparency regarding the cost declared on the Fund.
The Fund is fully financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Manager Risk Portfolio & Fund Mgt within FMO NL Business is responsible for the operational process of the fund management. The processing of liquidity transfers (applying for funds, repayments) by Accounting and Treasury follows existing FMO procedures, actual staff costs up to a certain amount are eligible under the Fund. The Manager Risk Portfolio & Fund Management within NL Business is responsible for the allocation and justification of staff cost to the Fund. There is a monitoring system in place to warrant the correct staff cost allocation.
Reputation risk is inevitable given the nature of the Fund's operations in developing and emerging markets. FMO has a moderate appetite for reputation risk, accepting that reputational impact of activities may incidentally lead to negative press coverage, NGO attention or undesirable client feedback, as long as these activities clearly contribute to FMO’s mission. FMO actively mitigates the risk as much as possible through strict and clear policies, thorough upfront assessments, consultations with stakeholders, and when necessary, through legal agreements with clients. FMO has in place a Sustainability Policy, as well as statements on human rights, land rights, and gender positions.
Environmental, social and governance risk
Environmental & Social (E&S) risk refers to potential adverse impacts of the Fund’s investments on the environment, employees, communities, or other stakeholders. Corporate Governance (G) risk refers primarily to risk to client business. ESG risks can lead to non-compliance with applicable regulation, NGO and press attention or reputation damage. These risks stem from the nature of the Fund’ projects in difficult markets, where regulations on ESG are less institutionalized. The Fund has an appetite for managed risk in portfolio, accepting ESG performance below standards when starting to work with a client with the goal that performance is brought in line with our ESG risk mitigation requirements within a credible and reasonable period. ESG risks are mitigated through environmental and social action plans and monitoring. The risk appetite for deviations from the exclusion list and human rights violations is zero.
Compliance Risk is the risk of failure to comply with laws, regulations, rules, related self-regulatory organization, standards and codes of conduct applicable to FMO’s services and activities.
Financial Economic Crime, incl. sanctions
Fund’s customers follow FMO’s procedures regarding financial economic crime, which includes screening of clients on compliance with applicable anti-money laundering, counter financing of terrorism and international sanctions laws and regulations. Due diligence is performed on customers, which includes checks such as verifying the ultimate beneficial owners of the customer we finance, identifying politically exposed persons, and screening against mandatory international sanction lists. These checks are also performed regularly during the relationship with existing customers. Following a DNB onsite inspection in 2018, DNB identified several shortcomings in the way FMO conducts Customer Due Diligence/Know Your Customer. As FMO sees this as an area where the risk of non-compliance with Wwft and Sanctions Law is present, a FEC Enhancement program was set up to demonstrate full compliance by the end of 2021. In 2019 FMO started with execution of the FEC EP which consisted of a.o. conducting the Systematic Integrity Risk Assessment (SIRA), the Risk Appetite Statement on Integrity, which was updated to include Tax Integrity Risk as well, and enhancing the CDD-AML Policy, CDD-AML Manual and a wide range of guidance notes. It became clear in September 2020 that the progress of the FEC Enhancement programme was not fast enough. The updated FEC Framework has meanwhile been implemented. Part of the FEC EP consists of remediation of the customer KYC files and bringing them in line with the updated framework. The remediation of customer KYC files will continue in 2021 and progress is closely monitored by the Management Board. As agreed with DNB, the remediation is expected to be finalized on December 31, 2021.
There is always a risk that a client is involved or alleged to be involved in illicit acts (e.g. money laundering, fraud or corruption). If such an event occurs, FMO will initiate a dialogue with the client, if possible and appropriate given the circumstances, to understand the background in order to be able to assess and investigate the severity. When FMO is of the opinion that there is a breach of law that cannot be remedied or that no improvement by the client will be achieved (e.g. awareness, implementing controls) or that the risk to FMO’s reputation is unacceptably high, FMO may be able to exercise certain remedies under the contract such as the right to cancel a loan or suspend upcoming disbursements and will report to regulatory authorities if deemed necessary.
General Data Protection Act (GDPR)
After the implementation of the GDPR in 2018, FMO continued its effort towards the protection of personal data related to its employees, customers and other stakeholders. The data protection officer (DPO) monitors FMOs compliant behavior periodically. The DPO is involved in a.o. change management activities to advise on data protection risks and risk mitigation.
Corruption is a global problem, requiring a global response. FMO is guided by the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery and the UN Convention against Corruption, and is dedicated to fight corruption and bribery not only to adhere to the law, but also because such acts undermine sustainable development and the achievement of higher levels of economic and social welfare. Good governance, fair business practices and public trust in the private sector is necessary to unlock the full potential of an economy and its citizens. Corruption can be best prevented collaborative and FMO actively supports the Transparency International’s Netherlands branch and the International Chamber of Commerce in order to share best practices and stimulate the dialogue between Dutch corporates on best practices in doing international business.
Operational risk is the risk of loss resulting from inadequate or failed processes, people and systems or loss caused by external events. Operational risks are not actively sought and have no direct material upside in terms of return/income generation, yet operational risk events are inherent in operating a business. Operational risk events can result in non- compliance with applicable (internal and external) standards, financial losses or misstatements in the financial reports, and reputational damage.
FMO has in place an operational risk framework that governs the process of identifying, measuring, monitoring, reporting and mitigating operational risks, based on the ‘three lines of defense’ governance principle. Management of the first line is primarily responsible for managing (embedded) risks in the day-to-day business processes. The first line acts within the risk management framework and supporting guidelines defined by specialized risk departments and committees, the second line of defense. Internal Audit, as the third line, provides independent assurance on the effectiveness of the first and second lines.
FMO has defined risk appetite levels for risk events (P&L impact) and misstatements in financial reporting (P&L impact). In 2020, additional risk appetite indicators have been included.
Despite all preventive measures, operational risk events cannot always be eliminated. FMO, however, systematically collects risk event information and analyses such events in order to take appropriate actions. Furthermore, operational risks resulting from changes in activities are assessed in FMO’s Change Risk Assessment Process and could trigger the Product Approval and Review Process. No risk events outside FMO’s risk appetite have been reported.
Legal risk is defined as the risk of a counterparty (client, supplier, stakeholder or otherwise) not being liable to meet its obligations under law or FMO being liable at law for obligations not intended or expected, caused by lack of awareness or misunderstanding of, ambiguity in, or indifference to the way law and regulation apply to business, relationships, processes, products and services, leading to financial or reputational loss.
Given the specific nature of legal risks that can occur, no risk appetite metrics are assigned to this risk type. Instead, the most relevant developments are included in the risk appetite report on a quarterly basis. FMO’s Legal team is responsible for the review of the legal aspects of Fund’s contracts with its clients and for mitigating legal risks arising from Fund’s businesses and operations. Where applicable, the team seeks external expertise.
Tax risk includes Tax Accounting risk and Tax Integrity risk. Tax Accounting risk is defined as the risk of paying or filing an incorrect amount of tax (direct and indirect). Tax Integrity risk is defined as the risk of facilitating or involvement in unlawful tax evasion or undesirable tax avoidance by clients or investees. Through its investments, FMO is indirectly exposed to the tax matters of its investees and clients. FMO could unwittingly support or be perceived to support aggressive tax structures. FMO is averse to Tax structures that are clearly aggressive and is cautious with accepting structures that have been set up for multiple underlying purposes and where the principle purpose is not tax. FMO seeks to transpose its Responsible Tax Principles to its clients.