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PE firm Ascent raises $100 mln to fund SMEs & Startups in Eastern Africa

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Nairobi-based PE firm Ascent has closed $100 million Ascent Rift Valley Fund II(ARVF II), exceeding its initial target of $80 million.

Investors in ARVF II include leading Africa investors such as BIO (Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries, CDC Group, FMO, IFC, Norfund, Proparco, SDG Frontier Fund, impact investors and major Kenyan pension funds.

According to David Owino, Founding Partner of Ascent, “We are now well-positioned to become the leading SME fund manager in East Africa, empowering ambitious entrepreneurs with capital and knowledge from our local advisory teams.”

Ascent aims to have the final close of ARVF II in December 2021, with a target of $120 million to invest equity in SMEs in Eastern Africa in financial services, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade and services, education, healthcare, and agro-processing sectors.  ARVF II has already made its first investment into financial services in January 2021.

ARVF II will promote environmental, social and governance best practices in its portfolio companies in order to drive growth and value, create quality jobs, limit environmental impact, increase government tax revenues and further empower local economies.

“I am thrilled to see both existing investors from ARVF I and new investors come together to underwrite our vision of building strong East African companies,” added Ascent’s Founding Partner Lucas Kranck. “The fact that we were able to mobilise capital for these markets amidst a global pandemic is testament to their enormous potential.”

CDC has built a collaborative partnership with Ascent that spans over six years, and it’s glad to continue to back its growth – helping to usher in increased capital that will bolster sustainable economic growth across the region.”

“With this investment in Ascent’s second fund Proparco is proud to support an increased access to Private Equity for the East African SMEs. Thanks to its decentralized organization (with local offices in Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda), the Ascent team has demonstrated its ability to support local entrepreneurs in expanding their business while concurrently fostering the implementation of high ESG standards. The French initiative Choose Africa, which the AFD Group has been deploying since 2018, relies on such talented and committed partners to best support startups and SMEs on the African continent”, says Tibor Asboth, Deputy Head of Equity, Africa & Middle East at Proparco.

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