The African Development Bank has approved a USD 20 million equity investment in Uhuru Growth Fund 1 focused on high growth middle-market businesses across West Africa.
Sponsored by a private equity firm, Uhuru Partners Limited, the first-generation fund will support those in the into consumer-facing and financial services sectors.
Uhuru Partners Limited is composed of an experienced indigenous team with strong local networks, extensive knowledge of the West Africa market and a track-record of SME investments in the region.
West African investors
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 USD 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 per cent of the Fund’s target capitalization of USD 200 million.
Macroeconomic and institutional factors
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 urbanization 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 PE 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.
Unlocking capital from investors
Abdu Mukhtar, the African Development Bank’s Director of Industrial and Trade Development said the Bank’s investment will be instrumental to Uhuru’s USD 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.
Access to local SME finance
The Fund’s investment strategy is aligned with the Bank’s Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022), 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.
The Fund’s strategy is also aligned with the Bank’s High 5 priorities to Industrialize Africa, Feed Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.