The Mastercard Foundation Africa Growth Fund (MFAGF), a Fund of Funds that works through African investment vehicles to support early-stage, growth-oriented SMEs on the continent, launched today with a committed $200 million (USD). The goal of the Mastercard Foundation Africa Growth Fund is to enable dignified and fulfilling work for young people, particularly young women. The Fund-of-Funds is bold and catalytic, helping to crowd in capital for African entrepreneurs by strengthening and de-risking African investment vehicles that are committed to advancing gender equity in entrepreneurship.
In addition to providing capital for investment vehicles, the MFAGF will offer a business development facility for their portfolio companies. The Fund-of-Funds initiative will use gender-lens investing (GLI) principles to help advance the Mastercard Foundation's Young Africa Works strategy, which aims to enable 30 million young people in Africa, particularly young women, to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030. So far, the Fund-of-Funds has recruited two investment vehicles supporting entrepreneurial growth- one in East Africa and one in West Africa.
Investment vehicles that are African-owned, led, and based are typically considered high-risk. At the same time, African SMEs struggle to access the financing they need to scale, inhibiting their potential. The Mastercard Foundation Africa Growth Fund tackles both challenges by investing in and strengthening African investment vehicles that in turn support African SMEs.
"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.