Women Leading the Way for More Private Equity Investment in Africa


March 26, 2015

The private equity sector in Africa is rapidly growing and some of the biggest private equity firms have turned their attention to the region. Predominantly the field is a male dominated one all over the world, yet change is slowly taking place and more women are getting involved.


Africa is one region where women are taking in important role in leading the sector. AFK Insider reported recently on how women are taking a leading role in developing private equity in Africa and changing the whole business scene in the region.


Women in Powerful Positions
Cindy Valentine, a partner at King and Wood Mallesons, told AFK Insider, “I think more women are entering the industry and more women are obtaining high profile positions”. Indeed, the newspaper published a list of 10 powerful women in Africa’s private equity sector on Wednesday, celebrating women in the field.


That list includes the likes of Genevieve Sangudi, who is the managing director of Carlyle Group’s Sub-Saharan Africa Fund. Sangudi is currently in charge of the $500 million fund. The private equity fund has previously been involved with investments like the $147 million investment in Nigeria’s Diamond Bank last November.


Another big name in Africa’s private equity sector is Wendy Luhabe. She is the managing director of Women Private Equity Fund (WPEF), which is mainly focused on investing in female-led businesses. Although the fund has not always been considered as a great success, it has still paved the way for women in the industry.


Opening Doors in New Markets
Africa’s private equity sector in general is rapidly expanding and more interesting investment opportunities are available. One of the emerging local markets is Ethiopia, which is seeing increasing competition.


In a recent interview Schulze Global Investment Ethiopia’s (SGI) vice president, Blen Abebe, said the increased competition is heating up. “In fact, in one deal we are currently looking at, the sponsor is telling us they are also being courted by another fund,” she told Geeska Africa. The firm was the first private equity firm to open an office in Ethiopia, so they believe they have the upper hand in the market.


Ethiopia is also the home of Tsega Gebreyes, the founding partner and CEO of Satya Capital. The UK-based, African-focused private equity firm has been one of the leading firms investing in the region and sparking the interest of other powerful firms.


Investing in Africa
Overall, private equity investment in the region has increased in the past few years. The Financial Times stated last week that the overall value of investment deals in the region stood at $8.1 billion last year, which is just short of the all time record. In 2007, before the financial crash, the region attracted $8.3 billion worth of investment.


Last year’s growth was mainly due to large firms entering the markets for the first time. But on top of this, a growing surge of female investors and female entrepreneurs is partially behind this boost. Hopefully in the future the region can become a leader in gender equality in private equity sector.

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