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Monday, 05 June 2017

New Africa fund targets women-led agribusiness

Victus Global Capital and Altree Capital have partnered to launch a US$50mn fund focusing on investment into women-led agribusinesses in Africa. The fund aims to boost African agriculture through the practise of so-called ‘gender lens investing’, which focuses on funding women-owned businesses, companies with a track-record of hiring women, and those that aim to improve the lives of women through their products and services. It is initiated by Bo Masole and Zee de Gersigny – the founders of Victus Global Capital, an investment firm focused on transforming agriculture and empowering women in Africa – and Jenni Chamberlain, CEO of African asset management specialist Altree Capital. Together, the two companies are working on a pipeline of projects, which include a tomato processing plant in Zambia, a meat processing plant in Malawi and a coffee export project in Ethiopia. The aim is to make individual investments of between US$250,000 and US$10mn. Speaking to GTR, the initiators say the fund seeks to address a common issue for women-led businesses, namely that they often find it more difficult than men to access finance. “In some countries, agriculture makes up 85% of employment. This is an industry that pre-dominantly employs women, is run by women, but they don’t share the financial gain,” says Masole, who is also the founder of Victus Global, a food security consultancy. “There are a lot of networks that exist within finance that are really male-dominated,” adds de Gersigny. “Not intentionally, but what ultimately happens is that men allocate money to other men.” She points to statistics from the World Bank, according to which SMEs represent 45% of employment and 33% of GDP in emerging markets, with one third of them being women-owned. Of these, 70% are underserved by financial institutions. “The reasons are that women in many of these countries are less likely to own assets, they don’t have the same kind of network, they often don’t have the same knowledge or understanding of how to access finance,” de Gersigny says.

Source: gtrnews