Norfund to drive investments in East Africa with new executive appointment


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Norfund, Norway’s Development Finance Institution mandated to supporting the building of sustainable businesses in poor countries and thereby contribute to economic and social development is an active strategic minority investor with a portfolio of $1,95 billion / NOK 16,8 billion and included more than 770 companies.

Norfund’s strategy is to invest in sectors and countries where we can have the greatest impact, where the private sector is weak and access to capital is scarce. The priority geographical areas are primarily sub-Saharan Africa, but also some selected countries in South East Asia and Central America.

Founded in 1997, Norfund is wholly owned and funded by the Norwegian Government, Norfund invests in three sectors; Clean energy, Financial institutions and Food and Agribusiness.

It also invests in Private Equity and Venture Capital Funds that target small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in need of early phase or growth capital. When  it exits investments, the funds are reinvested in other businesses. It’s average annual return on its investments is 4.9 per cent since inception. It’s investments in Kenya are in tourism and energy sectors.

The fund has appointed Tellef Thorleifsson (55), as the new CEO for Norfund  because of his considerable experience as an investor and as an active owner with a good social and environmental understanding and a wide network.

“Thorleifsson’s expertise, experience and engagement for Norfund’s development mandate makes him the right person to lead and further develop Norfund, says chair of Norfund board, Kristin Clemet.

Thorleifsson has worked as an investor for more than 20 years, and he is one of the founders of the venture company Northzone. Since 1996, Thorleifsson has contributed to building Northzone to become a leading European venture firm, which has invested in more than 130 companies. Thorleifsson is also a co-founder and chairman of the investment committee of the Voxtra Foundation which is making targeted investments and grants within agribusiness in East Africa.

Prior to Northzone, Thorleifsson worked for I.M. Skaugen and Western Bulk, and also a short period as a political advisor at the Oslo municipality.  Thorleifsson has had several directorships, and took the initiative to establish the Norwegian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association.

Tellef Thorleifsson is looking forward to taking on the position as CEO for Norfund. – I have followed Norfund closely the last few years and I have met many of Norfund’s skilled employees. I am impressed by what they have accomplished, and I am convinced that Norfund plays a vital role. The establishment of new companies and the strengthening of private sector are necessary to fight poverty and secure sustainable growth. I believe my experience can contribute to further develop Norfund, but at the same time I also feel humble as to the complexity of the assignment. Being a successful investor is generally challenging. However, it is even more challenging when the mandate is to invest in some of the world’s most challenging markets. Norfund is a highly competent institution, and I look forward to get started with this interesting task.

Tellef Thorleifsson accedes the position as CEO latest by the 1st October 2018.



Milcah Lukhanyu

Milcah Lukhanyu

Milcah Lukhanyu covers daily news briefs at TechMoran. She is the person who will probably read your press release and get the story out of it or totally trash it. Send tips to [email protected]

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