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IFC Invests in African Rivers SME Fund Focused on Frontier Markets in Central Africa

Kinshasa, DRC, February 4, 2016 — IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced the first close of the $45 million African Rivers Fund, which will invest in small and medium enterprises  in Central Africa, supporting local businesses in some of Africa’s most fragile countries. IFC’s SME Ventures Program, which supports entrepreneurs in emerging markets, contributed $10 million to the African Rivers Fund.
The fund will target growing, well-managed SMEs in Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, and Uganda. The fund will be managed by XSML, an investment fund manager based in the Netherlands and Kinshasa.
African Rivers Fund is XSML’s follow on fund to Central Africa SME Fund, which supports SMEs in DRC and the Central African Republic. IFC was also the anchor investor in the Central Africa SME Fund, which invested in 32 small businesses that provide a range of services from medical care to education to river cargo transport.  
Marcel Posthuma, Managing Partner at XSML said: “The successful close of our second fund, the African Rivers Fund, demonstrates the continued interest and commitment from our investors in frontier markets like DRC. The private sector in Central Africa has tremendous growth potential and long term capital is scarce. Our funds invest in private companies in Central Africa, creating jobs and supporting the growth of the economy.”
Along with investments, the African Rivers Fund will also provide technical assistance to its portfolio companies on issues including corporate governance, raising environmental and social performance, and management skills.
Oumar Seydi, IFC Director for Eastern and Southern Africa said, “Local entrepreneurs are the key to unlocking economic development in Africa. Young, growing businesses require risk capital from funding sources that have a higher risk tolerance than traditional banks. The needs for such funding is particularly important in post-conflict and other frontier markets. IFC’s SME Ventures program addresses this need, and XSML is well-positioned to expand its support to entrepreneurs and enter new markets.”  
Under the SME Ventures model fund managers select, invest in and monitor new businesses. Once the local businesses increase revenues and are set on a stable growth path, the fund can exit, providing a financial return to the managers and their investors.
The African Rivers Fund is one of the five global private equity funds backed by IFC’s SME Ventures program. The fund’s other investors include FMO (the Dutch development bank), Lundin Foundation, the Belgian Investment Company for Developing countries, the UK-based CDC Group, Dutch Good Growth Fund, and FISEA, a fund held by the Agence Française de Développement Group and managed by PROPARCO.  
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, we use our capital, expertise, and influence, to create opportunity where it’s needed most. In FY15, our long-term investments in developing countries rose to nearly $18 billion, helping the private sector play an essential role in the global effort to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit and IFC SME Ventures .
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About XSML
XSML is an independent private equity fund manager, founded in 2008, with a focus on frontier markets in Africa. While building and managing funds for these markets, XSML, eXtra Small Medium Large, aims to help grow small businesses into medium and large enterprises. The managing partners have an extensive background in emerging and frontier markets in the areas of asset management, corporate and development banking and corporate restructuring. Demand for finance from small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) remains largely untapped despite increased interest in frontier markets from international investors; XSML bridges this gap between international investors and SMEs in these markets. XSML has a dedicated team of more than 12 investment and operating professionals across offices in Kinshasa, DRC; Bangui, CAR; and a soon to be opened office in Kampala, Uganda.