African gender lens investment fund Alitheia IDF announces final close at $100m

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Alitheia IDF, Africa’s first women-led and women-focused private equity fund, has announced the final close of its US$100 million fund, which it claims is the largest gender-inclusive private equity fund on the continent.

Led by principal partners Polo Leteka and Tokunboh Ishmael, Alitheia IDF invests in growth stage companies across six African countries – Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Zambia. 

The fund has a mandate to plug the over US$42 billion investment gap between male and female entrepreneurs as a means of catalysing the economic power of African women as producers, distributors, and consumers. 

In 2021, the fund began implementing this mandate by leading investment rounds in five women-led businesses, namely Jetstream Africa (Ghana), ReelFruit (Nigeria), SKLD (formerly SchoolKits, Nigeria), AV Light Steel (South Africa) and Chika’s Food (Nigeria). 

The US$100 million close, which Alitheia IDF said makes the fund the largest of its kind in Africa, comes after the European Investment Bank (EIB) joined as the closing investor, investing US$24.6 million. 

“Globally, women have tremendous purchasing power as consumers and controllers of household economics. In the same vein, women entrepreneurs have a significant presence in Africa’s SME sector with African women making up 58 per cent of the continent’s self-employed population. However, despite this economic power and presence, African women are underserved as consumers and producers,” Ishmael said. 

“This has had huge impact on economic growth as the potential of more than half of the continent’s population remains untapped due to structural and systemic issues. We are proactively working towards filling this gap with a clear mandate to support women-led businesses across the continent while raising awareness for gender smart investment as a path towards inclusive economic growth.”

EIB vice-president Thomas Östros said women-owned businesses still struggled to raise funding, although they had proven their performance. 

“I am very pleased to support a true “by women for women” 2X Flagship fund that invests in companies creating job opportunities while enhancing diversity in Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy. The EIB’s investment in Alitheia IDF is part of our SheInvest initiative seeking to mobilise EUR2 billion of investment to boost gender equality and female economic empowerment across the African continent. I truly believe that gender equality makes societies stronger,” he said.

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