Q. What is Jacana?
A. Jacana is a pan-African private equity firm that invests in small-and-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to deliver financial and social returns. We operate in six markets across West and East Africa, and are the only pan-African private equity company with a permanent commitment to the SME sector.
Jacana’s unique structure combines highly experienced private equity veterans from Europe with expert teams on-the-ground whose knowledge of the local business environment and contact networks are second to none.
The result is a balanced team where 20 year veterans work alongside African investment managers to structure great deals, build successful SMEs and deliver superior financial and social returns. Jacana believes this is the best way to ensure successful private equity investment in African SMEs.
Q. What do you offer that is different from the competition?
A. Jacana is unique in three ways:
1. We are the only private equity company with a business model that combines African professionals who understand their local markets and can provide close support to portfolio companies, with highly-experienced international private equity veterans (our Investment Directors)
2. We are the only pan-African private equity company with a permanent commitment to SMEs; this means that our investment in building teams and our investors’ commitment to helping us build our track record will not be lost to the SME sector but will continue to produce returns in perpetuity.
3. Our economic model – the fact that our Investment Directors are pro bono makes them affordable and the Jacana founders’ investment means we can invest in building teams and track record over a much longer period than our competitors.
Q. What is private equity financing and how important is it for Africa’s growth?
A. Our research has found that the majority of entrepreneurs operating SMEs in Africa struggle to access capital to grow their businesses. Most African banks will not provide loans to SMEs due to the associated risks and lack of fixed assets to offset against. If they do provide a loan, the entrepreneur will often struggle to meet the high interest rates and rigid deadlines, or to grow their business due to a lack of management capacity and experience. This leads to over 80% of SMEs closing in the first two years of business.
Private equity is the answer to this problem as it provides both growth capital and value-add expertise to build successful businesses. Jacana Partners looks to partner with and support a business over approximately a five to seven year time frame. To date Jacana Partners has committed over $26 million to 23 portfolio companies in West and East Africa. So far, the companies we have invested in have created over 1,300 jobs.
Q. Which sectors are you interested in?
A. We do not have a sector specific focus. We look at all kinds of companies across a variety of sectors including financial services, healthcare, education and consumer related. We typically invest $1-5 million in a company. To see our investment criteria click here and to see a full list of the companies we currently invest in here.