Struggling small and medium enterprises (SMEs) owners operating in Malawi, Namibia and Zambia might have found the arm shot they were looking for to reinvigorate their businesses, thanks to the launch by Business Partners International (BPI) of a $30 million (R310 million) fund to support Southern African small businesses.
The fund has been launched to meet the growing demand for access to finance and technical assistance (mentorship) from small businesses in high growth economies on the continent, BPI siad this week.
Key investors in the fund include the IFC (International Finance Corporation), a World Bank member, Dutch impact investor Stichting DOEN, Agence Francaise de Developpment (French development agency), Proparco, Dutch development agency, FMO, and African Development Bank (AfDB).
The fund has an underlying mandate to invest in the selected countries and offices have already been established in Blantyre, Windhoek and Lusaka.
A total of $10 million has been allocated to finance SMEs in each of the selected countries.
Nazeem Martin, MD of Business Partners Limited, said the fund’s primary focus was to provide access to funding and post-investment technical assistance support for SMEs.
This, he added, will help fostering entrepreneurship, facilitating wealth creation, broadening the tax bases, and creating much needed jobs in each of the selected countries.
“Access to finance remains an issue for many SMEs due to local financial institutions’ reluctance to take on additional risk,” Martin said in a statement.
“There is also the issue of limitation placed on businesses applying for finance due to the level of securitisation required.
“In response to the growing need for risk capital and quality technical assistance in Africa, BPI has a specific mandate to operate exclusively in the SME space and to invest both capital and knowledge in the entrepreneur and business, as we have done here in South Africa for more than 33 years.”