AFD helps develop Oasis Africa Fund

The French development agency has committed $7m to the fund, which invests in small and medium-sized enterprises in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

France’s development agency Agence française de développement (AFD) on Thursday committed $7m to the Oasis Africa Fund (OAF), a vehicle aimed at SMEs based in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire that work to improve access to essential goods.

SMEs, which make up 92% and 98% of all incorporated companies in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire respectively, have traditionally found it difficult to access long-term funding in West Africa, a situation that the Oasis Africa Fund hopes to remedy.

The fund will target goods and services providers in areas including private education, healthcare, agribusiness, financial, real estate and hotels. It is set to invest between $500,000 and $5m in 12 to 15 companies.

AFD made its contribution through the Social Business facility of FISEA, an Africa-focused equity fund that is also advised by development financial institution Proparco (itself partly owned by AFD).

The Oasis Africa Fund will seek to generate and guarantee more than 3,000 jobs in the two countries, with approximately 40% of these opportunities aimed at women.

The International Finance Corporation, the private sector-focused arm of the multilateral financial institution World Bank, last year also supplied $7m to the fund through its SME Ventures program.

Anne-Sophie Rakoutz, head of Proparco’s Equity and Equity Interest division, said: “Using the OAF, our aim is to identify and partner local SMEs specialised in providing basic products and services for vulnerable sections of the population.

“These investments will both help to improve access to essential goods and services and create local jobs, which fits perfectly with FISEA’s Social business strategy.

“This project will also help diversify financial markets in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire – countries that have been largely shunned by private equity investors – and encourage SMEs in sectors assigned priority status by AFD Group, such as health and education.”

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