Technical assistance boost for SMEs in Southern Africa

Following the successful close of Business Partners’ 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 has raised US$ 1 million for a Technical Assistance Facility, which will run parallel to the investment fund.

While the investment fund will offer tailored finance solutions for start-ups, expansion programmes, acquisition finance, as well as property finance, the Technical Assistance Facility will provide technical assistance support to the fund’s investee companies.

“Not only do SMEs in the region find it extremely difficult to raise finance, but also face challenges with ensuring and sustaining their growth due to lack of sustainable operational capacity. A crucial element of the Fund’s investment strategy is the technical assistance that is offered to investee companies as a safety net intended to make the investee companies less vulnerable and, by reducing their risk of failure, helps protect them from possible loss” says Mark Paper, Business Partners International Chief Operations Officer.

Business Partners is excited about the partnership with Dutch development bank, FMO and French development finance entity, PROPARCO; who have committed towards the funding of the Technical Assistance Fund, and also have committed to the investment fund.

The Technical Assistance Facility will ensure investee companies receive management assistance, business building and value-add services that are critical for the growth and sustainability of the investee companies, while contributing to economic development and providing a return for the investors.” says Mark Paper.

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