AfricInvest: A Pan-African Investment Platform
The case is set in December 2018, when Ziad Oueslati, co-managing director and co-founder of AfricInvest, a leading pan-African private equity firm headquartered in Tunisia, was reflecting on the future direction of his firm. AfricInvest started as a traditional small and mid-cap private equity fund, but over the years had expanded into multiple adjoined investment strategies. At the end of 2018, the team saw an opportunity in the venture capital (VC) space, but while some were adamant about the need to raise a VC fund, others were reluctant to add yet another strategy to AfricInvest's diverse investment strategies. The case presents a detailed insight into AfricInvest's journey from a $10 million Tunisian fund, to becoming a prominent regional player operating throughout the African continent with $1.5 billion of assets under management. Among other issues related to the firm's growth, the case provides insights into the challenges of operating in such a wide and varied geography as the African continent. The case also offers details on their multiple investment strategies, ranging from small-cap SME focused funds, to sector-specific funds, cross-border funds, and private credit. The case explores the synergies and challenges associated with such a wide-reaching investment platform. This is described against the backdrop of the collapse of Abraaj, a leading emerging market private equity firm, in a scandal that shook the investment community in the region. The case also touches upon the role of development finance institutions (DFIs) as investors in emerging markets and the challenges of defining and measuring impact investing. The opportunity of launching a pan-African VC fund in the context of the recent collapse of Abraaj brings to the forefront several strategic questions for AfricInvest's co-founders: Should they keep expanding into new strategies, or would it be better to roll back their existing ones to focus only on their flagship private equity funds? Were the synergies and opportunities that came from being a platform enough to offset the risks, or was their focus being spread too thin by operating numerous diverse strategies?