Private-equity fund manager Ascent has raised a Sh15.4 billion fund to support SMEs in East Africa, looking to take large minority or majority stakes.
The fund marks the final close of the firm’s Ascent Rift Valley Fund II (ARVF II), exceeding its initial target of Sh14.4 billion. The first close of ARVF II was in December 2020.
ARVF II is a ten-year private equity fund managed by Ascent Capital Management Africa II Ltd and is domiciled in Mauritius.
The targeted sectors by the fund include manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade services, financial services, education, healthcare, and agro-processing.
The fund’s strategy is to invest in growing companies with the courage and ambition to become best-in-class, thereby setting the bar for business standards in East Africa.
“We are pleased that the investors, despite the many macro-economic and political challenges facing East Africa and the world at large, have faith in investing in private equity in East Africa,” said David Owino, Founding Partner of Ascent.
ARVF II has already made three investments to date in the financial and healthcare services sectors. The two recently published investments are Valley Hospital in Nakuru, Kenya and Diani Beach Hospital on the South Coast of Kenya.
ARVF II’s predecessor fund Ascent Rift Valley Fund I, with commitments of Sh9.6billion, closed in 2016 and made nine investments in Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya across a variety of sectors including healthcare, distribution, financial services and manufacturing.
Investors in ARVF II include leading Africa investors such as BIO (Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries, BII Group (the UK’s development finance institution), FMO (Dutch entrepreneurial development bank), IFC (International Finance Corporation).
Others are Norfund (the Norwegian Investment Fund for developing countries), FISEA (advised by Proparco, France’s development finance institution), SDG Frontier Fund, impact investors and major Kenyan pension funds.
In December 2021 the investors were joined by AfricaGrow and in the fund’s final close by a Kenyan institutional investor while some prior close investors increased their original commitments.