Catalytic Capital | May 10, 2023

Visa provides catalytic ‘working capital’ grant to three women-led funds in Africa

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, May 10 – Female fund managers control just a sliver of private equity and venture capital assets globally, much less in Africa. Visa is supporting SME.NG in Nigeria, Altree Capital in Kenya and Maia Capital in South Africa with grant funding to cover operational costs and help the managers warehouse deals while they’re raising investment capital.

“This funding is highly catalytic,” Altree’s Jenni Chamberlain told ImpactAlpha. “Warehouse funding is extremely important—in fact, essential—to prove our investment thesis and process and build a track record as a team.”

Altree’s Kadzi Gender Climate Fund invests in women-led and -focused businesses in East Africa that support local climate adaptation and resilience. It’s using the Visa funding to get started on early deals that will roll into the fund. “The capital we will deploy will have a multiplier effect on our ecosystem, not only supporting Altree but supporting women and small businesses in the greater value chain,” Chamberlain added. 

Inclusive economy

Women disproportionately rely on the informal economy to earn a living in Africa. Maia Capital invests in South African businesses that are led by women or promote greater gender inclusion and “make a positive and direct impact on the low-to-middle income households in South Africa,” said Maia’s Dinao Lerutla.

SME.NG is a blended-finance fund that invests in female entrepreneurs outside of Nigeria’s major economic hubs. It has backed NicNax Company, which sources from local farmers for its healthy breakfast and snack foods, and Smiley’s Mobile Kitchen, another food company that sources tomatoes from smallholder farmers.

Gender smart

Visa’s funding was directed through the African Women Impact Fund, a partnership fund of the Economic Commission for Africa and Standard Bank Group. The fund is looking to invest $1 billion in the continent’s female managers in the next 10 years. It raised its first $60 million with backing from the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, the Motor Industry Retirement Funds, Copartes Pension Fund and the African Union Commission.

At least 55 women-led managers have applied for funding.

Visa did not disclose the size of its grant.