Global consultancy Palladium has announced a $40 million impact fund to bridge the financing gap for small businesses in sub-Saharan Africa. The project named “Palladium Impact Fund I” is the company’s first impact investment fund, which will focus on agribusiness value chains and off-grid clean energy in Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya.
According to the company, it aims to alleviate poverty and economically empower over 500,000 rural households, create at least 3,500 full-time jobs, of which 60 percent will be for women.
Impact investing has grown rapidly in popularity, while experts estimate a $2.5 trillion gap between current funding levels and what it will take to accomplish the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The need for funding is real, and investors are increasingly looking for ways to put their money to meaningful use while generating a financial return.
“Fifty-four years of experience has taught Palladium that for an investment to have impact, it has to be sustainable, which means it needs to generate a financial return. For this first fund, we’ve chosen to invest in empowering African women, as women perform the majority of agricultural activities, own a third of all firms and are key to the welfare of their families. Gender equality and empowerment in the region can raise productive potential and boost the continent’s development,” Andrew Tillery, Head of Impact Investments at Palladium, said.
This is not the first time Palladium is investing in Africa as it already has two direct impact investments, which includes Naasakle, a mother and daughter-owned shea nut harvesting and processing business in Ghana, and PEG Africa, an off-grid solar energy project. It also has a further 10 investments under due diligence.
“Solar and clean energy technology is hugely important particularly in rural Africa as it provides vital electricity to households. The social benefits are significant: for instance, 24-hour lighting enables more effective infant care and in turn, can lower the infant mortality rate. It’s also the catalyst for the development of small, growing businesses as the working day is longer and more productive. Clean energy can power enabling technology, such as irrigation for farmers, to mitigate many of the risks associated with primary production like adverse weather conditions,” added Tillery added.
Investors will include foundations, family offices, pension funds, and institutional investors. Palladium will manage the fund, anchored by a $5 million investment of its own capital. The new fund will make debt and mezzanine investments of between $250,000 and $2 million into small companies.
Christopher Hirst, CEO of Palladium, said, “After three years investing our own capital, we feel now is the right moment to raise our first Impact Investment fund and begin to channel others’ capital to deliver impact. We’re ideally placed to use our extensive international development work and global reach to source ideas for potential, credible investment opportunities. Our relationships with USAID, DFID, DFAT, governments and private sector clients are directly relevant as we seek to ultimately bridge the gap between aid and impact investing, with Palladium as the intermediary.”