Apricot Wilson

Story of Apricot Wilson

Luxembourg

Apricot is a Deputy CEO and Head of Risk & Impact at the Fund. She has an MA in Modern Languages from the University of Cambridge and a Certified Expert in Microfinance from the Frankfurt School of Management.

How did you get into impact investment?

I previously worked in mainstream investment and enjoyed analysing companies and getting insights on various industries. What was also clear was the potential investors had to work with their investees and generate positive change. These investors tend to concentrate on large and liquid markets and there is also a lot of potential to make a difference when working in markets where capital is sparse. This led to me developing an interest in impact investment…

When I saw that Investing for Development was advertising for someone to come and support its investment operations, I was, of course, very interested and it has all started from there…

What are your responsibilities at LMDF?

My role is Head of Risk and Impact. As you might imagine, this has been a very busy area over the past few years, with the COVID crisis and European sustainable finance regulation. I also support the CEO with some elements of strategy. This really does mean that every day is likely to be different and that there is not a typical day with the Fund. Part of my work is recurring and other parts of it are more project based.

In terms of the recurring work, I look at all the transactions which come through the fund and monitor them in terms of risk and impact. I also hold a regular risk committee which reviews the state of the portfolio and considers particular risk exposures. When there are any investments which are in difficulty, I am also responsible for restructuring agreements. I also conduct country analysis when we are considering opening new geographies for investment…Recently we opened Zambia and Bolivia for new transactions.

Projects can be quite varied. I have been working on developing the Theory of Change for both our funds recently and reviewing the KPIs – I am also looking at the implementation of various EU regulations with regard to impact. And I expect there will be a lot more project work in the coming year…

What excites you the most about your job?

I think I would have a similar answer to my colleagues here. First of all, it is great to work in an institution where you can truly make a contribution to positive change. I remember visiting one of the microentrepreneurs we work with in Kenya – she had started working with one of our MFI partners 10 years ago. During the time she had worked with them, she had been able to grow her farm and build a new house – and when we visited we could see how her life had completely changed as a result of microfinance… We work with over 60,000 microentrepreneurs…

Secondly, we are a very friendly team. We are a small organisation and constantly support each other. We also all have different areas of expertise – so we all have the chance to learn from one another.

And finally, every day is different. Our work covers so many areas that we know that no day will be exactly the same. Sometimes this can be a bit frustrating, but overall the constant opportunities to learn and to develop do make this job very exciting.

What about the future?

The exciting thing about working for Investing for Development is how fast we are developing and how much we are able to do even within a year. When I first started with IforD, there were just three of us and we were only running the one fund. Now that fund has more than doubled in size, we have a second fund and we have 6 members of staff. We have also more than doubled the amount of microentrepreneurs we work with and are present in 27 countries rather than 20 when I started. Looking back and seeing the progress and how much we have done, makes me very excited about the coming years.

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