Innovative New Biodiversity Investment Fund for Latin America Will Support Sustainable Businesses

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German government builds on Conservation International experience for public-private partnership with start-up capital of 17 million euros.

Conservation International (CI), the German government’s development bank KfW, and German fund manager Finance in Motion have come together to establish the Fund, which will provide financing for companies and cooperatives in Latin America that contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources. The Fund will finance these companies either directly or through local financial intermediaries.

The primary focus will be on the agriculture, forestry, fisheries and ecotourism sectors.

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has provided EUR 17 million as seed funding through KfW. CI will also invest $500,000 USD in 2015. The Fund is established as a public-private partnership, allowing investment in capital tranches with a diversified risk-return profile. Using this structure, the fund mobilizes private and public funding for biodiversity conservation.

The Fund was inspired by CI’s Verde Ventures investment fund, which CI established in 1999 to boost small and medium-sized businesses that support human well-being by protecting the important services – like fresh water, food, energy and more – that communities receive from healthy ecosystems. Verde Ventures has provided debt and quasi-equity financing to such businesses with investments of nearly $24 million, racking up results such as employment of nearly 60,000 people in 14 countries, and the protection and restoration more than 515,000 hectares of important ecosystems. The businesses supported by Verde Ventures have generated sales of nearly $200 million.

“People need nature for food, fresh water, clean air and many other benefits it provides. Conservation International has long been committed to supporting environmentally responsible businesses that provide jobs and help secure human well-being,” said Jennifer Morris, chief operating officer of Conservation International. “The Fund builds on the experience and success of Verde Ventures, and provides crucial scaling up of investment and technical support in this sector, which is vital to the elimination of poverty and development of healthy, sustainable communities.”

"Latin America is one of the regions with the most abundant wealth of biodiversity. However, these valuable resources are seriously threatened by human activities. Linking the preservation of biodiversity with an economic approach is new territory for Latin America and the right approach in view of the great challenge and considerable financial requirement," commented Dr. Norbert Kloppenburg, member of the Executive Board of KfW Group.

"The continent finds itself in a prolonged phase of economic growth and stability. One of the roles of the fund is to strengthen the role of local financial intermediaries in promoting environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. In the long term, the application of such methods will be essential for securing sustainable economic growth and prosperity," explained Sylvia Wisniwski, Managing Director of Finance in Motion.

Through a ‘development facility,’ the fund will also offer technical support to financial institutions or businesses to ensure sustainable implementation of the Fund's investments. For this purpose, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development will provide up to an additional EUR 3 million. Both the fund and the development facility are open to other investors who share the fund’s goals.

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For more information, contact:
Kevin Connor, Media Manager, Conservation International
Office +1 703 341 2405/ mobile +1 410 868 1369/ email kconnor(at)conservation(dot)org

About Conservation International
Since 1987, Conservation International has been working to improve human well-being through the care of nature. With the guiding principle that nature doesn't need people, but people need nature for food, water, health and livelihoods—CI works with more than 1,000 partners around the world to ensure a healthy, more prosperous planet that supports the well-being of people. Learn more about CI and the "Nature Is Speaking" campaign, and follow CI's work on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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Kevin Connor
Conservation International
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