AfDB, European Investment Bank launch initiative to invest in high-growth African SMEs

21 Nov 2016, 12:00 am
Financial Nigeria


Boost Africa is expected to support over 1,500 start-ups and SMEs across the continent.

African Development Bank headquarter in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and European Investment Bank (EIB) have launched the Boost Africa Initiative, an investment fund for empowering young African entrepreneurs. Initially launched with €150 million ($159.3 million), the initiative is expected to catalyse €1 billion ($1.06 billion) in additional investments in high-growth sectors, and support over 1,500 start-ups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across the continent.

“Africa’s future will be determined by the current youth and it is crucial that we create and support entrepreneurship opportunities for youth, generate success stories and show these as examples for other young people,” said AfDB's President Akinwumi Adesina.

According to a statement released today by the AfDB and EIB, the joint initiative has three integrated pillars. The first involves equity investments in seed funds, angel co-investment funds, accelerators’ follow-on funds, venture capital funds, among other funds. These funds will then invest in innovative start-ups and high-growth SMEs. The second pillar is the Technical Assistance Facility, which entails grants to provide capacity building, dissemination of best practices, training of investee companies and entrepreneurs, and the creation of local investors’ networks. The third is the Innovation and Information lab, a platform for supporting the entrepreneurship ecosystem, fostering innovation, knowledge development and partnerships.

“Boost will give a concrete push to innovation and spur the creation of new instruments which support financial inclusion, such as venture capital and impact investing which is in line with the European External Investment Plan approach,” said Director-General for International Cooperation and Development at the European Commission Stefano Manservisi.  Boost Africa was launched today at the AfDB headquarter in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire in partnership with the European Commission. The Commission's Manservisi, AfDB’s Adesina and EIB President, Werner Hoyer, were present at the launch of the initiative.

“Boost Africa is a truly great initiative which will support African entrepreneurship and innovation, and nurture the continent’s new talent,” Hoyer said. “It is thus a concrete way of tackling the long-term factors fuelling poverty, instability and brain drain - many of which are at the origin of the migration crisis we all currently face - and therefore make the Sustainable Development Goals a reality.”

Boost Africa’s first investment is in Telecom Tide Africa Fund, an ICT fund investing in tech start-ups in West and East Africa. Last week, AfDB announced a $10 million equity investment in the fund. Also under appraisal is Africa Technology Ventures, a venture capital firm specializing in startups, investing especially in tech-enabled sectors and also in agriculture, consumer, education, energy, financial services and healthcare.

“Boost Africa will demonstrate to all Africans that they can and should take charge of their future. Boost Africa is a key initiative within the AfDB’s Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative, one of the Bank’s High 5 priorities,” Adesina added.