CDC is investing DFID’s long term, “patient” capital in impact investment funds that invest in enterprises which serve the poor as consumers, suppliers or employees.
The DFID Impact Fund is focused on investments in low income and lower-middle income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The DFID Impact Fund is open to supporting investment in all sectors where a fund can demonstrate significant unmet need for investment to achieve impact. These include, but are not limited to businesses providing access to food, housing, energy, water, sanitation, health, education, financial services and livelihoods for the BoP. Given that microfinance has successfully attracted investment capital from other sources, we have chosen to exclude microfinance-focused investment vehicles from the purview of this fund.
In the short term, the Fund will catalyse increased capital through giving confidence to co-investors via robust due diligence of investees’ financial returns and development impact, and through offering limited potential subordination to private investors where necessary to catalyse their participation. In the longer term, the fund aims to catalyse further capital through proving the financial viability of pro-poor business models and demonstrating the positive impact that this type of investment will deliver.
Impact Fund Investments
In January 2014, CDC committed to invest up to $15 million in Novastar Ventures. Novastar Ventures is a venture capital fund focused on developing and growing breakthrough businesses, in sectors including education, agriculture, energy and sanitation that can transform consumer markets at the base of the pyramid in East Africa. Existing investments include Bridge International Academies, a chain of low-cost primary schools in Kenya and Sanergy who offer hygienic sanitation through franchised sanitation centres in slums and collect waste which is processed into fertilizer, electricity and other by-products.
In August 2014, the DFID Impact Fund made its second investment of $15 million into a West African agriculture focused investment fund, Injaro Agricultural Capital Holdings Ltd. Injaro’s mission is to make sustainable investments in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) operating along the agricultural value chain in West Africa in order to alleviate poverty and improve food security. The target populations for impact are rural smallholder farmers and low-income producers and consumers. Injaro’s investment strategy is focused on Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire and also includes Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Sierra Leone.
In March 2015, the DFID Impact Fund made a commitment to invest 16.5 million Euros in the Energy Access Ventures Fund. The fund will mainly invest in small and medium size enterprises active in the generation and/or distribution of electricity in the region. The aim of the fund is to provide improved, reliable access to energy for one million low-come households by 2020. It will focus specifically on off-grid rural electrification, and will start with companies active in East Africa before expanding to other African countries.
In June 2016, the DFID Impact Fund made its first investment in South Asia. The fund has committed US$10 million of DFID’s capital to the Insitor Impact Asia Fund which, in turn, will make investments in Myanmar, Cambodia, India and Pakistan. Insitor will back promising businesses in these countries that provide essential goods and services to low-income households in sectors such as education, agriculture, energy and healthcare, where there is a large, unmet demand.
The DFID Impact Fund is committing $15 million to Infrontier, the only private equity fund active in Afghanistan, investing in businesses that have the potential to become market leaders in the country across multiple sectors. The impact will be in developing and building capacity in key sectors of the economy, strengthening governance, integrating Afghan companies with global markets and improving social and environmental standard.