IFC said it was investing US$ 12.5 million in equity in the Central Africa Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Fund, which will make equity and equity-related investments in smaller businesses across the central African region.
However, the Fund will initially focus on companies in the Central African Republic. It will be managed by XSML, a social investment fund manager, based in the Netherlands, and Cenainvest, an SME fund manager, based in Cameroon.
With IFC’s support, XSML and Cenainvest will aim to mobilize a total of US$ 25 million for the fund from other development finance institutions and the private sector.
"By providing financing for small and medium enterprises, the Central Africa SME Fund will address a key constraint to the further development of Africa’s private sector," said Jan Vos, Managing Partner at XSML.
"The fund will aim to be an important source of socially responsible financing f or companies across central Africa and contribute to reducing poverty across the region. We are very proud and pleased to help African entrepreneurs build sustain able businesses that create jobs and income," Vos added.
Companies that the fund invests in will also receive advice on implementing better corporate governance, raising environmental and social performance.
The business support services facility will aim to improve the long-term and sustainable development of investee companies by advising them both before and after they receive financing.
According to IFC, the Central Africa SME Fund is the first of several private equity funds under the SME Ventures programme that IFC aims to launch in the coming months to invest in smaller businesses in Africa’s least developed regions and in countries emerging from conflict.
All of the funds will leverage the expertise of locally-based fund managers and combine financing with business support services and advisory to smaller business.
"Supporting the growth of small and medium enterprises in Africa’s poorest economies and in countries emerging from conflict is a strategic priority for IFC i n the region," said IFC Executive Vice President and CEO Lars Thunell.
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