Rwandan poultry firm Uzima gets mezzanine debt funding

 Rwandan poultry firm Uzima gets mezzanine debt funding

Kigali, Rwanda-based poultry firm Uzima Chicken Ltd has bagged $3 million in follow-on mezzanine debt funding from existing backer AgDevCo, a specialist investor in African agriculture.

AgDevCo is a returning investor that had previously backed the venture in 2017 with the same amount. At the time, Uzima was largely present in its home market. It has since expanded into Uganda.

Uzima is an early-stage poultry company which provides day-old chicks to smallholder farmers through a network of hundreds of small, independent distributors. Distributors rear the birds for six to eight weeks before selling them to smallholder farmers.

The company is sponsored by Flow Equity, a US-based investor, which has also developed a similar business model in Ethiopia under EthioChicken.

EthioChicken had received a $10-million commitment two months ago from International Finance Corporation, the private-sector investment arm of the World Bank.

Uzima says it reaches customers in over 59,000 households. This investment provides the company with capital to expand its production capacity and vertically integrate into the poultry feed segment. This will also help the company widen its impact reach across the Great Lakes region that includes Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

David Ellis, co-founder of Uzima Chicken, said: “AgDevCo backed us before our first chick was hatched in Rwanda. Now, four years and some five million birds later, we are pleased to be deepening our relationship with AgDevCo to drive further expansion.”

Chris Isaac, chief investment officer at AgDevCo, said: “The company is delivering higher incomes and better nutrition to tens of thousands of low-income households – and doing so profitably. As a long-term partner, we look forward to helping drive further growth and impact in the region.”

AgDevCo’s current portfolio has 48 companies with investments cumulating to $138 million. It was supported on this transaction by Trust Law Chambers in Rwanda and BLC Robert & Associates in Mauritius.

Vivek Sinha

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