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International development

Driving development with the Aequitas impact fund 

February 6, 2024

In 2021, Desjardins Group launched Aequitas, an impact investment fund created by Desjardins International Development (DID). The goal? Enable Desjardins to do its part to fund international development and help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, starting with gender equality and climate action. 

Desjardins and DID gave the Aequitas fund an initial budget of CAN$50 million. The fund offers inclusive finance institutions patient capital to support their growth and long-term success. The fund directs resources where they are likely to have the greatest impact: small institutions that focus on the sustainable financial inclusion of historically underserved populations who are typically overlooked by large investment funds. 

"By providing vital support to the inclusive finance sector, we're helping make secure, personalized financial services available to millions of people. We must remember that even today, there are still 1.4 billion adults across the globe who don't have access to a banking account, the majority of whom are women. The Aequitas fund is really making a difference by empowering populations and supporting their prosperity," said Desjardins Group President and CEO Guy Cormier. 

To date, the Aequitas fund has made nine investments in Madagascar, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Tajikistan, Georgia and Ecuador.

  • CAN$19.6 million invested
  • 449,450 people directly affected (51% women)

"Thanks to the loan I received, I've started raising and selling hogs and chickens and have made improvements to my home. With my income, I've been able to give my kids the education they need to pursue a career." —Teresa de Jesús Chavarría, business owner

In recent years, Martin Villemure, Senior Investment Advisor at DID, has criss-crossed Latin America meeting with teams and clients at financial institutions supported by the Aequitas fund to better understand their needs. During these meetings, he learned how the fund has made a difference and saw first-hand the resiliency of these financial institutions.

"You might think that the challenging conditions of the last few years have been hard on their performance, but it's been quite the opposite," said Villemure. "Many of them have seen their loan portfolios grow considerably since 2019. They also continue to innovate with products and support adapted to the needs of underserved people, especially women. Through our investments, we're helping them continue their growth and supporting the formalization and success of micro and small businesses."

About DID's commitment to impact investing

For over 25 years, Desjardins International Development (DID) has used its own financial resources to empower populations in countries with developing and emerging economies. Through its investment subsidiary FONIDI Management Inc., and in collaboration with several strategic partners from the public and private sectors, DID has set up and managed several funds that have supported more than 40 inclusive finance institutions since 1996.

DID's overall impact in 2022–2023:

  • 14 inclusive finance institutions directly supported in 11 countries
  • 601,246 active clients, 51.8% of whom are women
  • 5,004 direct jobs created or maintained
  • 59,523 farmers supported
  • 149,780 rural clients
  • 73,192 businesses with financing 

About Aequitas

With an initial budget of CAN$50 million, the Aequitas fund was designed to support gender equality, climate action and other Sustainable Development Goals by promoting the financial inclusion of historically underserved populations. Aequitas's resources are directed where they're likely to have the greatest impact: small institutions, particularly those in poorly served geographic areas, that focus on the sustainable inclusion and economic empowerment of women, youth, business owners and farmers.

For more information (media inquiries only):
Jérémi Trudel
Public Relations, Desjardins Group
514-281-7000, ext. 5553436