The Sustainability | Finance | Real Economies fund, also known as the SFRE Fund (pronounced Sapphire), has taken an equity stake of $7.5 million in Southern Bancorp, Inc., a community and rural development bank located in the United States. It is the fund’s first investment since the management of the fund was transferred to Triodos Investment Management as per 1 January 2018 and overall the first investment in a financial institution in the emerged markets.

Southern Bancorp, Inc.  is a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV). The bank was founded to help strengthen underserved communities through financial access and investment. By combining traditional banking and lending services with financial development tools ranging from credit counseling to public policy advocacy, Southern Bancorp, Inc. helps underserved families and communities grow financially stronger.

“This investment from the SFRE Fund marks a new opportunity for Southern Bancorp, Inc. to attract other institutional investors that share our values, said Darrin Williams, Southern Bancorp, Inc. CEO. “Southern is proud to have such a mission aligned shareholder like the SFRE Fund supporting our expansion into new markets throughout the American Mid-South that need our unique brand of financial development and access.”

After taking on the fund management of the SFRE Fund, Triodos Investment Management appointed Justina Alders-Sheya as Fund Manager of the SFRE Fund. She brings a wealth of experience and expertise with over 15 years of consulting and audit experience in the financial services sector, focusing on investment management, impact investing and inclusive finance. Before joining Triodos Investment Management, she held several positions with EY and ING. Justina is a certified chartered accountant, holds a post graduate degree in Accounting from the VU University of Amsterdam, a Master degree in Financial Economics from the University of London and a bachelor in commerce from the University of Namibia.

“I’m pleased that we are off to a good start in managing the SFRE Fund with this first investment in Southern Bancorp, Inc. It is truly a great addition to SFRE’s portfolio, not only because it is a very inspirational organisation, but also because we have now invested for the first time in the emerged markets. I look forward to adding many more of these mission-aligned financial institutions to our portfolio in my new role as Fund Manager of the SFRE Fund”, says Justina Alders-Sheya.

The SFRE Fund was launched in March 2015 by the GABV. It is the first global open-ended investment fund created to deploy long-term and mission aligned capital to support the growing segment of values-based banks, and expand their impact and reach. Values-based banks focus on serving individuals and enterprises in the real economy whilst delivering a triple bottom line of prosperity, planet and people. They represent a significant, growing, positive-money movement that requires and deserves new sources of growth capital.

More information about the SFRE Fund is available here.