Money Markets

Acumen Fund raises assets in East Africa to Sh2.1 billion

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Acumen has invested substantially in the agricultural sector. Photo/FILE

Acumen has invested substantially in the agricultural sector. Photo/FILE 

By GEOFFREY IRUNGU

Posted  Thursday, March 17   2011 at  00:00

The Acumen Fund, a non-profit venture capital firm, will double its assets under management in East Africa to Sh2.1 billion ($25 million) in the next two years.

The organisation, which targets institutions that have a potential to make social impact when choosing companies to lend growth capital, has invested $12 million in East Africa and another $48 million in social projects for the poor in India and Pakistan.

The focus of the new investments in East Africa will be in food and nutrition, microfinance, health, water and sanitation, housing, agriculture and energy.

Biju Mohandas, the regional manager, said on Wednesday the firm is about to seal a deal with a microfinance institution. He did not reveal the name of the institution.

“With regard to agriculture, we are looking at nutrition, tissue culture and artificial insemination,” Mr Mohandas said.

Cotton farmers

Early this year, the organisation along with Root Capital, signed a $2.2 million (Sh187 million) financing deal with a Ugandan cotton ginnery, deepening regional investments by the firms.

The Ugandan ginnery will create jobs for an estimated 32,000 small scale cotton farmers in Uganda.

The company on Wednesday further deepened its social impact projects by signing an agreement with the KCB Group charity arm, KCB Foundation, which will sponsor the first Acumen Fund East Africa Fellows Programme aimed at training 20 emerging leaders in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Southern Sudan and Rwanda.

The foundation donated Sh16 million for the training programme.

Entrepreneurial pool

“The objective of the programme is to build an entrepreneurial pool of talented leaders who have the financial and operational skills to build strong organisations and the moral imagination to create a more inclusive economy,” said Susan Omanga, the KCB Foundation chairman.

The training targets people carrying out compelling projects with large social impact, passion for the region and a proven track record.

Since its founding in 2001, Acumen Fund has invested more than $40 million in companies that provide access to health, water and sanitation, energy, among others to low-income consumers in south Asia and East Africa.