With a committed $200 million, the Mastercard Foundation Africa Growth Fund (MFAGF), a Fund of Funds, has been established to assist early-stage, growth-oriented SMEs across the continent.
The Mastercard Foundation Africa Growth Fund seeks to provide young people, especially young women, with access to respectable and worthwhile employment. The Fund-of-Funds is audacious and a catalyst, helping to attract finance for African entrepreneurs by bolstering and reducing the risk associated with African investment entities that are dedicated to achieving gender equity in entrepreneurship.
The MFAGF will offer a business development facility for their portfolio firms in addition to funding for investment vehicles. The Fund-of-Funds initiative will apply gender-lens investing (GLI) principles to further the Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy, which seeks to provide access to 30 million young people in Africa, especially young women, to meaningful and respectable employment by 2030. Two investment vehicles encouraging entrepreneurial growth have so far been recruited by the Fund-of-Funds, one in East Africa and one in West Africa.
Investment vehicles with African ownership, leadership, and base of operations are often regarded as high-risk. African SMEs struggle to get the funding they require to grow, which limits their potential. By bolstering and investing in African investment instruments that help African SMEs, the Mastercard Foundation Africa Growth Fund addresses these issues.
“We need to do everything it takes now to build a continent with shared prosperity and sustainable, inclusive growth,” says Dr. Dorothy Nyambi, President and CEO of MEDA “This Fund-of-Funds will strengthen and empower a new crop of African investment vehicles to drive decent job creation for women and youth via investments in small and medium-sized enterprises.” Dr. Nyambi added that success lies in increasing youth employment and moving from talk to action.
“More than 75 percent of ventures funded will be led by women creating jobs,” Dr. Nyambi said. “Ultimately, our impact will be in building the investment ecosystem for investment vehicles and in the SMEs that will thrive and create dignified employment.”
The Fund-of-Funds has recruited a stellar Investment Committee from Africa’s best and brightest financial and investment experts including: Hamdiya Ismaila, general manager at Venture Capital Trust Fund/Ghana, Kanini Mutooni, savvy investment leader, Dr. Frank Aswani, CEO of the African Venture Philanthropy Alliance (AVPA), Lumka Mlambo, fund principal at the South Africa SME Fund, and Mercy Mutua, Head of Access to Finance at the Mastercard Foundation.
“The MFAGF has built up a promising pipeline of 180 diverse investment vehicles, including Early-stage, Growth, Debt and Seed VC Funds and other non-traditional funds,” says Samuel Akyianu, MFAGF Chief of Party/Managing Director. “Five have gone through our investment screening process, two female-led investment vehicles are past due diligence and received a favorable investment decision.” Akyianu added.
Akyianu explains that the main objective is to make investments that generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact while contributing to building a stronger and more vibrant African investment ecosystem. He says the Fund-of-Funds is committed to measuring and reporting decent job creation for Africa’s youth through a process that incorporates gender, diversity, inclusivity, social, and environmental performance for all investments.
The Fund-of-Fund’s vision is implemented by a consortium of partners, including Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P) and Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners (ESP), Genesis Analytics, the Criterion Institute, and Africa Communications Media Group.