Expanding the African footprint

Business Partners International gears up for further expansion into the African SME market with its new Southern African SME Fund, a US$ 40 million risk capital fund which will target SME investments in Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.

Business Partners International believes that this new Southern African SME Fund will allow the company the opportunity to serve a market that has been traditionally underserved by financiers.

“SMEs in the region find it extremely difficult to raise finance, which will enable them to grow and sustain their businesses, as they seem to find themselves falling between micro-financiers on one hand and the banks and private equity firms on the other,” says Mark Paper, Business Partners International Chief Operations Officer.

“Business Partners International is excited about the expansion plans into Africa as we finalise the commencement of the Southern Africa SME Fund operations in Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi” says Mark.

The fund will offer tailored finance solutions for start-ups, expansion programmes, acquisition finance, as well as property finance.

“Business Partners International has successfully offered innovative and sustainable risk financing solutions to SMEs for the past 30 years, which facilitates wealth and job creation and promotes sustainable development. Our unique products, together with a comprehensive array of value adding measures will ensure the SME segments’ growth and development, as well as long term contribution to economic development, while providing a return for the investors. The Fund will roll out the Business Partners model which has already been successfully deployed in South Africa, East Africa and Madagascar” says Mark.

The fund has received firm commitments of US$ 31 million so far with investors including French development finance entity PROPARCO, Dutch development bank FMO, Stichting DOEN, the IFC, the African Development Bank and Business Partners Limited.

In addition, Business Partners International has raised US$ 1 million for a technical assistance facility, which will run parallel to the investment fund and provide technical assistance support to the fund’s investee companies.

The fund is targeting to commence with active investment in the 1st quarter of 2013.