East Africa: being local is key. Simply put, it helps us to identify great businesses, work in partnership with investee companies, and manage risks. That philosophy has always been core to the investment thesis across each of the markets we work in and Africa is no exception.
With a two decade history in the continent and investment in more than 80 businesses, this is a region that we know extremely well. I have lived in both East and West Africa and worked on deals across sectors including Mouka, a leading mattress manufacturer in Nigeria. Two fundamentals are clear: Firstly, the continent is not, and cannot, be treated as a monolith. Secondly, local, national and regional nuances are critical to success and our track record in Africa is proof of Abraaj’s ability to create value for its partner companies.
This July, we announced our latest investment in Sub-Saharan Africa through the acquisition of Java House Group (Java House), the largest casual dining chain in East Africa with 60 outlets in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. As a member of the East Africa investment team that worked on the acquisition of this truly iconic asset, I believe the transaction was timely and targeted, especially when considering the underlying dynamics of the sector in East Africa, but also across Sub-Saharan Africa.
At a time when the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative seems to be in question, our focus as long-term investors in the continent remains resolute. Why do I say that?
If you look at the African Great Lakes area, the economic growth we expect to see over the next decade, combined with compelling individual investment opportunities makes it an exciting time to be active in this market. And it is not just Abraaj that believes in this opportunity. The Africa Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA), a leading Pan African investment body which promotes and enables investment in the continent, likewise foresees a shift of investment activity to East Africa and a maturing secondary market in the years ahead.
Read more: East Africa: A Rising Hub