Ascent announces first rolling close of ARVF II at more than US$100m

KENYAAscent Capital Africa, a Kenya-based private equity firm, has announced the first rolling close of its Ascent Rift Valley Fund II (ARVF II) at more than US$100 million, significantly exceeding its initial target of US$80 million.

The final close of ARVF II, with a target of US$120mn, is expected in December 2021.

ARVF II will invest equity in leading small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Eastern Africa, looking to take large minority or majority stakes.

The fund will provide funding to scalable SME businesses, helping to drive wider business and industrial development, particularly targeting the financial services, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade and services, education, healthcare, and agro-processing sectors.

ARVF II seeks to invest in growing companies with the courage and ambition to become best-in-class, thereby creating a league of “regional enterprise champions” in East Africa. ARVF II has already made its first investment into financial services in January 2021.

“We are proud to have raised this additional capital from prominent investors to invest in Africa’s most promising companies,” said David Owino, Founding Partner of Ascent.

“We are now well positioned to become the leading SME fund manager in East Africa, empowering ambitious entrepreneurs with capital and knowledge from our local advisory teams.”

“We are now well positioned to become the leading SME fund manager in East Africa.”

David Owino – Founding Partner, Ascent

Investors in ARVF II include leading Africa investors such as BIO (Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries, CDC Group (the UK’s development finance institution), FMO (Dutch entrepreneurial development bank), IFC (the International Finance Corporation).

Others include Norfund (the Norwegian investment fund for developing countries), Proparco (a subsidiary of Agence Française de Développement (AFD) focused on private sector development through AFD Group’s FISEA fund), SDG Frontier Fund, impact investors and major Kenyan pension funds.

“We are thrilled that our investment in ARVF II will enhance Ascent’s ability to offer capital to promising SMEs, which significantly contribute to business activities and employment of a large proportion of the working population in East Africa,” Sara Taylor, Head of SME Funds at CDC Group, said.

“With CDC’s investment in ARVF II, we are pleased to be partnered with a GP that has a track record of supporting the growth of SMEs. CDC has built a collaborative partnership with Ascent that spans over six years, and we’re glad to continue to back its growth – helping to usher in increased capital that will bolster sustainable economic growth across the region.”

ARVF II will promote environmental, social and governance best practices in its portfolio companies in order to drive growth and value, create quality jobs, limit environmental impact, increase government tax revenues and further empower local economies.

“I am thrilled to see both existing investors from ARVF I and new investors come together to underwrite our vision of building strong East African companies,” added Ascent’s Founding Partner Lucas Kranck.

“The fact that we were able to mobilise capital for these markets amidst a global pandemic is testament to their enormous potential.”

The Charles Russell Speechlys Africa Team has advised Ascent Capital Africa on the establishment and fund raising for its second fund.

The Charles Russell Speechlys Corporate and Financial Services & Funds team was led by Partner Victoria Younghusband, and included Partners Adrian Mayer and Keir Gordon, Associate Edidem Basiekanem and Trainees Zoe Bowler and Giulia Brunello.

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