Private-equity fund manager Ascent has closed its Ascent Rift Valley Fund II (ARVF II) at more than US$128 million, exceeding its initial target of US$120 million, setting stage to invest in East Africa.
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. ARVF II, assisted by the manager and its advisory offices in Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya, will invest in designated countries in East Africa including Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.
“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 will invest equity in leading small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in East Africa, looking to take large minority or majority stakes. The targeted sectors 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 creating a league of “enterprise champions” that set the bar for business standards in East Africa.
A statement from the company stated that ARVF II will promote environmental, social and governance best practices in its portfolio companies in order to drive growth and value, create high-quality jobs, limit environmental impact, increase government tax revenues, further empower local economies, and create companies that are a valued part of their local communities.
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 US$80 million, closed in 2016 and made nine investments in Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya across a variety of sectors including healthcare, distribution, financial services and manufacturing.
“I am very excited that the investors have given us a strong mandate to continue investing in fast growing SMEs in East Africa,” added Ascent’s Founding Partner Lucas Kranck.
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), 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.