IFC, FMO back fruit logistics firm, East African PE fund

 IFC, FMO back fruit logistics firm, East African PE fund

South Africa-based fruit logistics company United Exports Ltd has secured a €3 million ($3.6 million) loan from International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Dutch development bank FMO.

IFC, the private-sector investment arm of the World Bank, and FMO will lend €1.5 million each to the company to help it tide over a cash crunch brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

The loan is part of a €30 million investment package under which money is to be loaned to Mbiza Trading, a Mauritarian trading and holding company that seeks to help support blueberry farms and related infrastructure in South Africa, IFC said in a disclosure.

IFC is one of the most active private investors in the developing economies of Africa and Asia. It makes both direct debt and equity investments in companies operating across the continents. It also acts as a limited partner to private equity and venture capital funds that invest in these countries.

FMO, too, is an active development finance institution operating in Africa.

United Exports was founded in 2002, and is involved in the trading and farming of blueberries. The company sources blueberries from farms in South Africa and Zambia that it owns partially or wholly. It also sources produce from several licensees in the southern African region.

The company deals in supply chain management, focussing on production, grading, packing, cooling, shipping, marketing and selling the produce.

It markets its blueberries under the OZblu brand, which has gained popularity across Europe.

In a separate disclosure, IFC said it will invest $10 million in a private equity fund focussed on the East African region. This comes after the Ascent Rift Valley Fund II LP secured an equal amount from FMO in December.

The closed-ended fund targets small and medium companies across Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. It is looking to raise $120 million.

The fund is promoted by the Nairobi, Kenya-based Ascent Capital Management Africa, a PE firm that invests mainly in small and medium enterprises across East Africa.

Vivek Sinha

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