GroFin pledge $170 million to African small businesses

(PRESS RELEASE – September 24, 2009) – GroFin has announced the final closing of the GroFin Africa Fund at US$170 million against a target of $150 million. This growth finance fund targets start-up and growth opportunities in small and medium enterprises in Africa.

The GroFin Africa Fund will be invested in roughly 500 companies over a period of five years, making it the largest growth finance fund to date globally, which is a remarkable achievement for Africa.

It invests between $100,000 to $1 million in SMEs operating in various sectors of the economy ranging from manufacturing to retail and services. These firms often struggle to grow because of a lack of access to capital and business development assistance, and as a result, Africa misses out on a significant engine of economic growth.

This is GroFin’s fourth fund for Africa focussing on making risk finance and business support available to entrepreneurs. To date the fund has committed $17 million to 50 transactions and is currently considering investment into a further 24 companies to the value of $8 million. The fund invests in Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa through GroFin’s in-country investment teams.

Following a first close of $140 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, recent commitments by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and PROPARCO (AFD Group), through the Investment and Support Fund for Businesses in Africa (FISEA), brought about the final close of $170 million .
The EIB and FISEA join African Development Bank, CDC, International Finance Corporation, FMO, Norfund, Shell Foundation and GroFin Investment Holdings as investors to the fund.

Jurie Willemse, Managing Director of GroFin said: “This is a clear demonstration of the high levels of interest that investors have for smaller investments in Africa that deliver both quantifiable investment and development returns. The confidence shown in the GroFin team and our unique business model, that integrates risk finance with business development assistance to mitigate the investment risk, is heartening.

The Africa enterprise sector represents an exceptional investment and development opportunity at this time and has illustrated resilience through the economic crises. There are an ever growing number of entrepreneurs in Africa looking to start and grow companies and our viability based model – specifically developed for the African market – makes real returns possible in a segment that is overlooked by most investors.”

EIB Vice President responsible for the Bank’s activities in sub-Saharan Africa, Plutarchos Sakellaris, said, “SMEs constitute a powerful driving force of the African economy and it is essential to ensure that tailored funding is available to support their continued growth, particularly during the current financial crisis. We at the EIB are proud to invest in such a focussed fund that serves a number of African countries and we are confident that GroFin has developed the necessary expertise to guarantee its success.”

Michel Jacquier, chairman of FISEA said, “We are confident that through the GroFin Africa Fund sustainable SMEs will develop on a scale never seen before in Africa.
Smaller companies in Sub-Saharan Africa are still struggling to raise external finance. In fact, lending to SMEs is hindered by high transaction costs and a lack of interest as this sector is perceived as more risky and less profitable. By targeting companies in need of growth finance, this fund will help to address this shortage.”

The Growth Finance sector is an essential yet underserved market in developing economies with many small and medium enterprises failing due to a lack of capital and appropriate management skills. GroFin leads development in this sector through the provision of both appropriate funding and extensive business development support to enhance the probability of success for entrepreneurs and their businesses.

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Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

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