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Supporting agricultural SMEs in Africa

Entrepreneurship

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Impact investment:

Bamboo Finance and Louis Dreyfus Commodities are launching a €46 million investment fund, NISABA, to support agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. The fund will support small and medium enterprises along the value chain by improving access to data and training, and by linking producers to end consumers.

‘Nisaba’ is the name of the Sumerian goddess of the harvest and means “The lady who distributes the grains.” The NISABA fund is designed to promote development and private investment in Africa’s agribusiness sector.

The initiative came from Louis Dreyfus Commodities, one of the leading global merchandisers of agricultural goods, and Bamboo Finance, a Swiss private equity firm specialising in investments benefitting low-income communities in developing countries. In October 2015, the two companies announced their partnership to build and run an impact investment fund. Impact-investing strategies aim to develop positive social, societal and ecological effects with financial returns.

According to Pierrick Paindavoine, NISABA’s director, the project addresses a gap: “In Africa, many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have real potential for creating jobs and increasing a country’s GDP, but they lack financing to expand.” The 10-year fund is based on Louis Dreyfus’ knowledge of African agriculture and Bamboo Finance’s expertise in investing in SMEs, and intends to help SMEs along sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural value chain to expand and attract funding.

NISABA will have a balanced portfolio in terms of geographical coverage, activities and products, and will invest in emerging markets where there’s a financing gap in the agricultural value chain. Focus will be on small businesses that combine social, ecological and financial goals, by improving access to data, training, innovative technologies, and finance and risk management. Market access will also be enhanced by linking producers to end consumers. Finally, the fund will strengthen local technical capacities in postharvest management, value-added processing and packaging.

Jean-Philippe de Schrevel, CEO of Bamboo Finance, and Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, chairwoman of Louis Dreyfus Holding, believe that this pioneering partnership will address the challenges faced by an agricultural production sector that barely meets the needs of its growing population.

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