ABIDJAN – The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a US$20 million equity investment in Uhuru Growth Fund 1, a first-generation fund sponsored by Uhuru Partners Limited, a private equity firm that focuses on high growth middle market businesses across West Africa.
Uhuru Partners is composed of an experienced indigenous team with strong local networks, extensive knowledge of the West African market and a track-record of SME investments in the region.
The bank’s equity support will enable Uhuru Partners to make investment forays into consumer facing and financial services sectors in West African countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mali. Investments of US$5 million and above will be made in companies in these sectors, helping them grow into regional champions, and creating new, high quality jobs.
The proposed investment will give the bank approximately 10 percent of the fund’s target capitalisation of US$200 million. Equity capital is scarce in Africa but particularly so for smaller companies with revenues below US$50 million. Private equity funds such as Uhuru will help address this void.
Uhuru’s compelling investment proposition is underpinned by several macroeconomic and institutional factors. These key factors include West Africa’s large aggregate population, rapid urbanisation and youthful demographics, sustained economic growth and relative political stability.
The presence of Uhuru’s key executive and operational teams in Abidjan and Lagos is also perceived as a huge asset, enabling the team to effectively source investment opportunities in the Anglophone and Francophone economies of West Africa. The firm’s presence in the region’s largest and leading commercial hubs also enables them to get actively involved in the operations of their portfolio companies across the region.
Abdu Mukhtar, AfDB’s director of industrial and trade development said the bank’s investment will be instrumental to Uhuru’s US$200 million fundraising exercise. “The bank’s support of Uhuru Growth Fund will unlock capital from other development finance and commercial investors into a fund that will help strengthen West Africa’s economies, create jobs and drive development,” Mukhtar said.
The fund’s investment strategy is aligned with the bank’s ten-tear strategy, focusing on inclusive growth and creating broad-based prosperity, as well as the bank’s country strategy papers for target countries which seek inclusive growth, access to local SME finance and regional integration as the pathway to sustainable development of the African continent.