DGGF invests in gender-lens fund in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Alitheia Identity Fund, geared towards unlocking the potential of women entrepreneurs in Western and Southern Africa, was launched successfully at the end of November 2019. For DGGF Financing local SMEs, one of the first investors, this is considered a milestone since it will improve access to finance for female entrepreneurs and catalyse employment opportunities for women in the region.

Access to finance to empower women entrepreneurs

On the 28 November the Alitheia Identity Fund (AIF) finalised its first loan. The fund targets women-owned and women-led SMEs in Western and Southern Africa, specifically Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It focuses on SMEs, which have difficulty accessing finance through traditional channels and require support in order to professionalise and improve operations. Such SMEs have generally been excluded from access to risk capital as a result of cultural and gender norms, as well as a lack of access to traditionally male-dominated networks. The envisioned impact on female empowerment will not only come from access to finance but also by raising employment opportunities for female employees and connecting women in the supply chain and as customers.

Exploring new frontiers for gender-lens investing

The Alitheia Identity Fund is considered groundbreaking because it is one of the first attempts to prove the concept of commercial private equity investing into women-led and women-owned SMEs. After almost four years of fundraising, this loan marks a major success for the AIF’s manager and DGGF. Alitheia received technical assistance from DGGF’s SCBD facility to elaborate their gender-lens strategy, which was instrumental for catalysing other investors into the fund. Among the first investors are the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Bank of Industry of Nigeria (BOI), Stichting fondsbeheer DGGF lokaal MKB (DGGF), Development Finance Institute Canada Inc (Findev) and Alitheia IDF Feeder A Partnership (on behalf of the Underlying Investor, Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa Limited (IDC)).

Small-scale financing across a broad range of sectors

AIF will invest into SMEs in agribusiness, healthcare, manufacturing, clean energy, financial services, education, transport and logistics, and the creative industries. It will make investments between approximately USD1M and up to USD5M as well as follow-up investments.