African agribusiness fund surpasses target

Agri-Vie has held a $110m final close on a fund aimed at one of the dominant drivers of economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa.

A private equity fund focused on agribusiness and food investments in Sub-Saharan Africa has raised $110 million, surpassing its $100 million target. It held a $40 million first close in September 2008.

Dubbed Agri-Vie, the fund is backed by South African private equity firm Sanlam Private Equity and South African investment firm SP-Aktif. The fund attracted commitments from LPs including the African Development Bank and US charitable trust the WK Kellogg Foundation.

Northern Serengeti: private equity sets up camp

The firm indicated in a statement it was already planning a second private equity vehicle as “the oversubscription in the current economic climate demonstrates the appetite for such investments”.

Herman Marais, executive director at SP-Aktif, is chief executive of Agri-Vie and is leading the fund's investment programme. To date, it has invested in five companies including Dew Crisp, a packaged salad maker; tropical fruit grower and juice company AfricaJUICE; and ecotourism operator Asilia.

Over and above the opportunities associated with the prevailing global food and commodities cycle, there is growing demand globally for various African exports.

Herman Marais

“Over and above the opportunities associated with the prevailing global food and commodities cycle, there is growing demand globally for various African exports such as organically grown vegetables, fruit and flowers, processed natural fibre for industrial applications as well as natural supplements and health products,” Marais told PEI in an interview early last year. He added that limited access to capital and restricted market knowledge was holding back many of the existing agri-enterprises across the region.