BIO Development & Sustainability Report 2023

At work for a
better world for all

Promoting the Sustainable Development Goals by financing the private sector


BIO’s Development & Sustainability Report illustrates how BIO is translating its main mission and principal mandate into investments and business development support that contribute to the global community’s development aspirations.

Entrepreneurship is by far the largest source of employment in developing countries. Strengthening the private sector gives BIO an important lever to promote decent work and gender equality, and to fight poverty and climate change – the main barriers to human development.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are our guide in our quest for impact. While we seek to contribute to achieving all 17 SDGs, this third edition of BIO’s Development and Sustainability Report has a special focus on SDG10: “Reduce inequality within and among countries.” BIO supports clients such as Banco Solidario, Ilara Health, and Barnana in Ecuador and Kenya in promoting inclusive businesses to reduce inequalities within countries in the short term, and in stimulating employment, private sector growth and productivity to reduce inequalities among countries in the long term. Many of our clients target un(der)served communities by being active in the agricultural value chain, in the health sector, and by providing them with microloans and/or micro-insurance products. Acting towards reducing inequalities is an essential objective in most of BIO’s investments.

By showing the impact they have had on reducing inequalities, Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) like BIO illustrate that they have become a key part of the development finance architecture, and are crucial in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals - and its central promise to leave no one behind.

Everybody concerned with international solidarity – not in the least BIO’s stakeholders: whether they be government, parliament, civil society or the Belgian taxpayer – can read here how BIO invests its money and seeks to improve people’s lives. This D&S Report provides an opportunity to look more closely at the issue of sustainable development and shows BIO’s commitment to promoting best practices to achieve a better world for all.

Géraldine Georges
Chair of BIO's board of directors

About this report

The goal of this online publication is to provide a comprehensive understanding of how investing in the private sector, with a clear focus on development effects and sustainability, can address some of the world’s major challenges. This report covers the financial year of 2021 and also includes examples of investments signed in 2022.

The section “Development and Sustainability at BIO” provides an overview of BIO’s role as a DFI and digs into its strategic approach and Theory of Change (ToC). It describes in detail the operational phases of assessment, monitoring, and evaluation (AME framework), illustrating the processes and methodologies employed. Following this, the section looks at BIO’s Environmental and Social (E&S) framework, which ensures the implementation of standards for decent and safe working conditions, the respect of human rights, and environmental sustainability. Lastly, it explains the role of the Business Development Support Fund (BDSF) in helping to improve sustainability, and it provides an overview of its main tools for technical assistance.

As described in the section “Sustainable Development Goals Highlights” and its subchapters, this publication aims to illustrate how BIO contributes to the six directly targeted SDGs. In particular, this year’s report has a focus on SDG10 (Reduced inequalities), an essential subject to BIO and object of the latest external case study evaluation (ECSE). The section calls attention to how BIO addresses income inequalities between and among countries, how it protects vulnerable clients in microfinance, and it illustrates some of the facts and figures relative to investments in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and to investments targeting un(der)served groups.

Finally, the “Challenges and work in progress” section summarises the lessons learnt and the improving perspectives for the upcoming future.


Development and Sustainability at BIO


If we want to achieve a more sustainable and responsible economic growth for all, it is fundamental to invest in and support the private sector in developing countries. BIO, the Belgian DFI, creates a positive impact by actively mitigating poverty and reducing inequalities, as explained in the ToC and implemented through the AME framework and the E&S action plans, all with the support of the BDSF.

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Challenges and work in progress


The journey to a fairer world is far from over. There are still important challenges to overcome, be they specific to BIO or shared with other European DFIs and development actors.

BIO aims to improve on its successes and learn from its mistakes, and promotes an open and constructive dialogue with all stakeholders to ensure continuous improvement.

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