What to expect from Norway’s Development Finance Institution (Norfund)?
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The Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund), Norway’s Development Finance Institution (DFI), were established in 1997, to assist in developing sustainable business and industry in developing countries (Norfund, 2018f). Norfund have been critically discussed in media and reports regarding their contribution to development (Rorg-samarbeidet, 2018). The purpose of this study is to assess different Norwegian development actors’ critical perceptions and expectations of Norfund as a channel of development assistance, and Norfund’s response to these perceptions. The study aims to give more insight into different opinions, to discuss how Norfund are perceived and expected to act in a development context, according to these actors. The study is based on a purposive sampling approach, based on actors who have expressed opinions of Norfund publicly, and selected Norfund representatives. The findings in this study can therefore not be generalized to represent views of all Norwegian development actors. Additionally, findings are from 2018, and reflect opinions from the time of interviews. Findings are discussed with literature and theory including the role of private sector in development, DFIs and Norwegian development politics. Critical points expressed include lack of transparency, human rights and civil society challenges, environmental concerns and documentation of development effects. Norfund is expected to see investments in context, to avoid negative consequences and contribute to poverty reduction. Additionally, Norfund is critically viewed in a larger perspective. Expressed by Norfund informants, Norfund is a responsible actor, contributing to development through for instance economic growth, jobs, tax and value creation. Norfund works with development effects and strive to be as transparent as possible. The thesis discusses criticism related to Norfund’s role as a private sector actor and development actor. It is discussed that criticism can both be linked to expectations of private sector actors not contributing to negative effects, and the expectation of contributing to development effects and poverty reduction as a development actor. More cooperation may lead to understanding different views and meeting halfway. It has been expressed that a mechanism like Norfund is needed and have great potential to be a leader in their field. Criticism and debates can be used as a resource to improve, develop and finding common solutions.