Symbiotics - Publications

Swiss Microfinance & Impact Investments Report

Wednesday 2nd, October 2019 -

This paper reviews the evolution of private-sector development finance in Switzerland from 2010 to 2018. It analyzes the contribution of Swiss managers specialized in impact investing towards the financing of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), focusing on the historical growth of their assets under management and the variety of products on offer.

The report is a follow up to the Swiss Microfinance Investments Report 2015 published by Symbiotics in collaboration with the University of Zurich’s Center for Microfinance and an earlier 2011 report, co-published with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

Swiss Microfinance & Impact Investments Report

Impact report: SME Finance Loans for Growth Impact Report 2018

Monday 8th, April 2019 -

This report is the second of a unique study assessing whether, by enabling small and medium enterprise (SME) lending, the Loans for Growth (LFG) impact fund fosters job creation, employment and entrepreneurship, ultimately helping to advance towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in emerging and frontier markets.

The study, conducted over four years until 2020, set out to measure the progress of SMEs in 12 low- and middle-income countries in terms of employment growth, employment conditions, total assets and profitability.

SME Finance Loans for Growth Impact Report 2018

White paper: Banking for Impact

Monday 22nd, October 2018 -

This white paper reviews the key developments that have taken place in inclusive finance markets over the period 2006-2017, supported by 12 years of data on the business models of Symbiotics’ partner financial institutions.
This research includes trend lines on more than 40 performance indicators, each segmented by region, by financial institution type, and by financial institution size.
The report serves as a benchmark for the impact investing industry, enabling a broad understanding about financial intermediaries’ clients and products, their assets and portfolio, funding structure, risk management and return patters.

Banking for Impact

2018 Symbiotics Microfinance Investment Vehicles (MIV) Survey

Tuesday 25th, September 2018 -

The 2018 Symbiotics Microfinance Investment Vehicles (MIV) Survey provides asset managers, investors and academia alike with the latest information of most of the world’s microfinance fund activity in emerging markets.

111 identified Microfinance Investment Vehicles with a total estimated market size of USD 15.8 bn were invited to participate. The coverage rate continues to be significant with 91 MIVs forming the financial benchmark which represents 96% of the total market size (USD 15.2 bn).

2018 MIV Survey 2018 MIV Survey Abstract

Annual Report 2017

Wednesday 27th, June 2018 -

The 2017 Annual Report offers an overview of the company’s achievements and aspiration, covering our corporate structure, markets, investments, portfolios, clients and all the research we do around impact.

Symbiotics 2017 Annual Report

New report: SME Finance Loans for Growth Impact Report 2017

Thursday 3rd, May 2018 -

This impact report aims to measure the extent to which the Loans for Growth (LFG) fund meets its objectives to foster job creation, employment and entrepreneurship in emerging and frontier markets through SME finance.
The current report is the first in a series of four annual impact reports, which follow a sample of enterprises financed by the LFG fund in 12 low- and middle-income countries in 2017.
In addition to illustrating the outreach of the total LFG portfolio, it provides insights into the characteristics of the SMEs in terms of employment, access to finance, assets, financial performance and challenges faced.

SME Finance Loans for Growth Impact Report 2017

New report: The Financial Performance of Impact Investing Through Private Debt

Tuesday 17th, April 2018 -

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

Authored by: Abhilash Mudaliar, Hannah Schiff, Rachel Bass, Marina Parashkevova Holmegaard, Ramkumar Narayanan, Basile Quartier


Download the full report: Financial Performance of Impact Investing Through Private Debt

Download the Private Debt Impact Fund Chapter

Download the Community Development Loan Fund Chapter

White paper: Managing and Measuring Social Performance

Monday 30th, October 2017 -

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.

Managing and Measuring Social Performance

White paper: Going unhedged in frontier markets

Wednesday 18th, October 2017 -

Providing local currency funding to frontier market has proven to be a key aspect of impact investing.

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.

Overall, going unhedged appears to be an interesting strategy for investors with patience and some risk tolerance.

Going unhedged in frontier markets

2017 Symbiotics Microfinance Investment Vehicles Survey

Monday 18th, September 2017 -

The 2017 Symbiotics MIV survey is an annual survey which aims to provide comprehensive market trends and peer group analysis on microfinance off-shore investments. The survey, in its 11th edition, is based on December 2016 financial and social performance indicators reported by a large number of microfinance investment vehicles (MIVs). Since 2015, it has included Microfinance Investment Funds that are not open to multiple investors. Participating MIVs report their data based on the CGAP MIV Disclosure Guidelines (2010) and the Microfinance Investment Vehicles Disclosure Guidelines: Additional Indicators (2015) developed by Symbiotics in collaboration with other microfinance asset managers.

2017 MIV Survey

Annual Report 2016

Wednesday 28th, June 2017 - Symbiotics 2016 Annual Report

This annual report provides our firm’s 2016 results in terms of markets, financial institutions, investments, portfolios and impact.

Symbiotics 2016 Annual Report

White paper: Why microfinance matters to investors

Thursday 1st, June 2017 - 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.


Why microfinance matters to investors

Microfinance Funds – 10 years of research and practice

Wednesday 16th, November 2016 - Microfinance Funds: 10 years of research & practice

“A review and analysis of CGAP & Symbiotics’ Microfinance Investment Vehicles Surveys”

Our white paper, co-written with CGAP on the past 10 years of investments in microfinance is available now.
Don’t forget to subscribe to our research mailing-list, if you want to be kept informed of our future research publications.

Corporate Brochure

Tuesday 6th, September 2016 -

A full overview of Symbiotics’ organization and business activities as well as key highlights.

Symbiotics Corporate Brochure

Symbiotics 2015 Annual Report

Thursday 11th, August 2016 - Symbiotics 2015 Annual Report

Read our first public Annual Report that was published in June. It offers a review of Symbiotics 2015 business activities, market coverage, financial institution partnerships and social performance.

Symbiotics 2015 Annual Report

Swiss Microfinance Investment Report

Sunday 1st, November 2015 - Swiss Microfinance Investments Report

A review of the microfinance investment vehicles managed in Switzerland.

Swiss Microfinance Investments Report

2016 Symbiotics Microfinance Investment Vehicles (MIV) Survey

Wednesday 16th, September 2015 - 2016 Symbiotics Microfinance Investment Vehicle Survey

The 9th edition of the Symbiotics Microfinance Investment Vehicles (MIV) Survey has just been published. It is the only industry survey providing a full overview of market trends as well as a peer group analysis of global microfinance investment vehicles. These specialized intermediaries include microfinance investment funds open to multiple and single investors. MIVs offer financial institutions serving low-income clients in emerging markets access to a broad range of financial products.

2016 Symbiotics MIV Survey

Small Enterprise Impact Investing

Tuesday 25th, August 2015 - "Small Enterprise Impact Investing" book

Exploring the “Missing Middle” beyond Microfinance.

"Small Enterprise Impact Investing" book

Microfinance Investments

Tuesday 25th, August 2015 - Microfinance Investment Book

An investor’s guide to financing the growth and wealth of small enterprises and low income households in emerging economies.


"Microfinance Investment" book

Microfinance Investment Vehicles Disclosure Guidelines: Additional Indicators

Tuesday 12th, May 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”).

Microfinance Investment Vehicles Disclosure Guidelines: Additional Indicators

2014 Symbiotics MIV Survey Report

Tuesday 26th, August 2014 -

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.

2014 Symbiotics MIV Survey Report

Symbiotics Microfinance Index (SMX)
10-year Track Record Outperforming Mainstream Asset Classes

Thursday 13th, February 2014 -

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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