AFRICA – FinDev Canada, a company that invests in gender-lens fund to bolster women-owned SMEs in Africa, has announced an investment of US$7.5 million to Alitheia IDF, a fund supporting women-owned and led businesses, to boost women’s economic empowerment and access to finance in Sub-Saharan Africa.

A joint venture between women-owned and led funds Alitheia Capital (AC) in Nigeria and IDF Capital (IDFC) in South Africa, Alitheia IDF Fund (AIF) was seeded with $12.5 million from the African Development Bank.

The first fund of its kind in Africa, AIF uses a gender-lens investing approach to support high-growth African SMEs that help improve women’s access to finance and foster their economic empowerment.

The capital invested by FinDev Canada will be used to finance locally-owned, high-growth SMEs.

The Fund targets SMEs that address unmet demand for essential goods and services and operate in priority sectors where women entrepreneurs are dominant both as producers and consumers, such as agribusiness and consumer goods.

Suzanne Gaboury, Chief Investment Officer at FinDev Canada at a ceremony held during the 2019 Africa Investment Forum said,

“We are pleased to be working with AIF to further improve women’s access to finance in Sub-Saharan Africa, and we are confident that their unique and tailored approach to gender-lens investing will yield great social, financial, and economic impacts in their communities,”

The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Akinwumi Adesina, explained: “Our goal isn’t complicated it is simple, to back women-owned businesses, spark innovation and unleash prosperity for women across Africa.

“Investing in women entrepreneurs in Africa must happen, because women are not only Africa’s future, they are Africa’s present.

“Currently, women operate over 40% of SMEs in Africa, but there is a financing gap of $42 billion between male and female entrepreneurs. This gap must be closed, and quickly.”

Tokunboh Ishmael, Managing Partner at Alitheia IDF, said, “The Alitheia IDF fund is coming at a unique time when investors and leaders around the world are waking up to the potential of leveraging the full participation of women in the global economy, which McKinsey estimates will increase global GDP by more than 25% over the next five years.

“’My co-founder, Polo Leteka, and I along with the entire AIF team are looking forward to financing and supporting overlooked growth businesses led by women. These businesses are characterized by the dividends of gender diversity: enhanced corporate governance, smarter decision making and leading-edge innovation, which result in superior business performance.”

The Forum is a game-changing investment marketplace convened by the African Development Bank with seven founding partners to attract capital to the continent.