AfDB invests in Women-owned SMEs in Africa through Alitheia Identity Fund (AIF)

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The Bank Group’s (AfDB) Board of Directors, met on December 17, 2015 in Abidjan, and approved USD 12.5 million equity investment in Alitheia Identity Fund (AIF or the Fund).

AIF is a Private Equity Fund managed by Alitheia Identity Managers (AIM), a joint venture between two established women-owned fund management companies - Alitheia Capital Limited (Alitheia) of Nigeria, and Identity Development Fund Managers (IDF) of South Africa.

AIF intends to raise USD 100 million in two closings to make equity investments in high-growth established SMEs with emphasis on women led and/or women managed SMEs' in 10 African countries (Malawi, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe Ghana and Nigeria). AfDB’s equity investment will be part of the first closing.

Presenting the project to the Board, the Financial Sector Development Department Director, Stefan Nalletamby highlighted that: Through the investments made over the life of this fund, it is expected that over 12 000 jobs will be created and over 50% of the jobs created will be permanent. Furthermore, more than 50% of the jobs created will be occupied by women and this investment will provide scarce medium to long term capital to at least 30 indigenous SMEs”.

AIF is expected to yield financial returns in high growth sectors such as agriculture, agro-processing, and manufacturing across targeted countries. It will provide capital of between USD 2-5 million to high potential mid-sized companies in target countries to transform them into local and regional market leaders.

AfDB’s Operations Vice President in charge of regional integration, infrastructure and private sector, Solomon Asamoah underscored that: Accelerating women’s financial inclusion requires bold and sustained action to advance women’s economic opportunities and rights to ensure that they can meaningfully participate in the economy without undue constraints and barriers that limit their progress”.

Also commenting on the project, the Bank’s Special Envoy on Gender, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi said: “The project has excellent gender effects that will arise from the increased opportunities for women as over two thirds of the companies to be supported by AIF are majority owned by women and new jobs created will be women dominated”

By investing in this Fund, the AfDB complements its existing initiatives to support African women and the development of private sector and financial markets on the continent. As one of its priority objectives, the AfDB supports investments that contribute to inclusive growth on the continent, in this case financial intermediation by promoting women's access to risk capital and by enhancing the capacity of women fund managers in Africa.