AFRICA – Palladium, an Australian based advisory and management group, has rolled out a new impact fund that is expected to raise US$40 million for investment in agribusinesses across Africa.

According to the firm, the Palladium Impact Fund I marks its first fund following two recent successful direct investments. It aims to make its first close of the new fund later this year.

The investment will also focus on small and medium-sized enterprises in emerging markets off-grid clean energy in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

This particular fund will also apply a “gender lens”, which prioritises benefits to women through economic empowerment and opportunities.

Palladium Impact Fund I investors will include foundations, family offices, pension funds, and institutional investors.

The impact investor will manage the fund, anchored by a US$5 million investment of its own capital. The new fund will make debt and mezzanine investments of between US$250,000 and US$2 million into small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“For this first fund, we’ve chosen to invest in empowering African women,” explains Andrew Tillery, head of Palladium Impact Investments.

“Women perform the majority of agricultural activities, own a third of all firms, and are key to the welfare of their families,” Andrew added.

The fund will aim to alleviate poverty and economically empower over 500,000 rural households, as well as create at least 3,500 full-time jobs – 60% of which will be for women.

“For an investment to have an impact, it has to be sustainable, which means it needs to generate a financial return,” Andrew notes.

Palladium also works with aid agencies including USAid, UK Department for International Development (DFID) and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

The impact investor says that its works has contributed to “a significant pipeline” of investment opportunities, local networks and a strong sense of “what real impact takes”.

Palladium’s investments on the continent include a shea nut harvesting and processing business in Ghana as well as West Africa-based off-grid solar energy power firm PEG Africa.

“We want to transform how development is financed, bridging the gap between aid and impact investing,” says Andrew.

Palladium CEO Christopher Hirst said the firm is well positioned to use its extensive international development work and global reach to source deals for potential credible investment opportunities.

The group has over 75 offices across the globe including Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia and Egypt in Africa.