Ascent Capital Africa, an East Africa-focused private equity firm led by Kenyan banking executive David Owino, has raised $128 million from institutional investors to invest in East African small and medium-sized enterprises.
“We are pleased that the investors, despite the many macroeconomic and political challenges facing East Africa and the world at large, have faith in investing in private equity in East Africa,” Owino, founding partner of Ascent, said.
He went on to state that the fund wants to invest in companies that will generate growth by creating high-quality jobs, as well as work with entrepreneurs to improve their governance structure and product diversification.
The $128-million investment was raised through Ascent Capital’s new fund, Rift Valley Fund II (ARVF II), a 10-year private equity fund managed by Ascent Capital Management Africa II and based in Mauritius.
The fund’s proceeds, which exceeded the $120-million target, will be invested in leading East African SMEs in exchange for minority or majority stakes in these companies, particularly those in operating in the manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, financial services, educational, healthcare, and agro-processing sectors.
Investors in the new fund include the International Finance Corporation, a sister organization of the World Bank and a member of the World Bank Group, BII Group, the UK’s development finance institution, the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO), and the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank, FMO.
Owino founded Ascent in 2012 with the aim to develop and nurture a league of entrepreneurs with the drive to grow best-in-class enterprises and eventually set the bar for business standards in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda.
Prior to founding Ascent, Owino worked for Centum, a top East African investment firm, where he managed a portfolio worth more than $150 million and quickly rose to the head of the private equity division.