Investment to expand market-driven model bringing clean water to El Salvador
ROME, ITALY, July 10, 2018 — Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund (IDB/MIF) today announced the launch of Azure, a blended finance facility catalyzing both investment and grant capital to improve water and sanitation services for under-served communities in El Salvador. The announcement was made at the Third Vatican Impact Investment Conference in Rome – hosted by CRS and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (IHD), where leaders from the Catholic Church, the investment world, humanitarian organizations and many others convened to discuss concrete ways that capital can be put to use to help the poor around the world.
Azure is comprised of two integrated components: Azure Source Capital, LLC (ASC) and Azure Technical Services (ATS). ASC is a newly launched US-based finance company sponsored by CRS and IDB/MIF that will deploy loan capital to upgrade and expand water and sanitation infrastructure, initially in El Salvador and then in neighboring Central American countries. It will be managed by Total Impact Capital, an impact investing firm located in Bethesda, Maryland, and work through local financial institutions with the support of ATS technical service teams on the ground.
ATS, managed by CRS in partnership with local technical service providers, offers hydraulic engineering, project management, and business and financial expertise to Water Service Providers (WSPs). It has already built a track record working with scores of WSPs to improve their water service delivery and managerial capacity to be ready to access loans to expand and repair water systems.
CRS, IDB/MIF and other investors have committed over $3 million in a combination of debt and equity for ASC and $1.2 million in grant funding for ATS.
“The Azure model shows how impact investing can leverage local expertise and relationships to dramatically scale up social innovation,” said Sean Callahan, president and CEO of CRS. “Through this intersection of capital and in-country experience, we help the poor while also engaging investors”
Building on an initial pilot carried out by the IDB in El Salvador, CRS initiated work on Azure in 2014 to demonstrate that loan capital could be successfully deployed to local WSPs on a broader scale. With a combination of technical support and access to capital, WSPs in rural and peri-urban areas have proven they are able to improve and expand water services to under-served households even as they repay loans to financeinfrastructure improvements.
As a result of this successful pilot, CRS and IDB/MIF realized that with additional loan capital available through ASC, Azure can reach many more of the estimated 1.8 million people in El Salvador who now lack access to clean water – most of them in rural or peri-urban areas.
And the project can be replicated in many more countries facing similar challenges.
“What Azure is doing is harnessing the power of the marketplace to empower local communities to take control of their own clean water future. Mobilization of these private sector resources is an innovative element in this type of development project. In this sense we are excited to collaborate with CRS in one of its first investment vehicles” said Carmiña Moreno, IDB Representative in El Salvador.
Azure is active in El Salvador and plans to expand to other countries in Central America.
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality.CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit www.crs.org or www.crsespanol.org and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media: Facebook, Twitter at @CatholicRelief, @CRSnews and @CRSnoticias, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.
The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region. The Multilateral Investment Fund
serves as the IDBG innovation laboratory to promote development through the private sector by identifying, supporting, testing and piloting new solutions to development challenges and seeking to create opportunities for the poor and vulnerable populations in the LAC region. To fulfill its role, the MIF engages and inspires the private sector and works with the public sector when needed.
TOTAL Impact Capital is an Impact Investment Firm focused on bringing to market high quality investment products that are financially sound, make the planet a better place, and have the potential to scale significantly. Founded in 2010, TOTAL is a pioneer in impact investing, having brought more than $250 million in impact opportunities to market. Today, TOTAL is at the forefront of the effort to create blended finance impact investment vehicles that can attract capital from a broad spectrum of investors. Total focuses on structuring themed investment vehicles in partnership with organizations on the ground who have established track records of delivering results and anchor investors who prioritize that impact for their portfolios.