“The purpose of I&P is to maximize the impacts of our investees”

Niek van Dijk
By on February 15, 2016

Investisseurs et Partenaires is an impact investment fund aiming to support the emergence of a new generation of African investors. We asked Emilie Debled, Public Relations and Business Development Director, to tell us more about the fund.

Emilie DebledCan you explain what I&P does, and what your role is within the organization?

“Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P) is an impact investing group fully dedicated to Africa. It was created in 2002 and is a pioneer in African private equity. With €75m under management, I&P has invested in almost 60 small and medium-sized companies across 15 countries. I&P brings long-term financing (ranging from €30k to €1.5m) as well as strategic, managerial and technical support to its investees.

Our mission is to maximize economic, social and environmental impacts to contribute to African development.Our team consists of 30 people based in Paris and in 7 African offices ( Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Cameroon, Morocco and Madagascar). The staff is also located in 3 African investment funds (Sinergi, Sinergi Burkina et Teranga Capital).”

At I&P, I have been in charge of external affairs, partnerships and business development since 2012.

What are you looking for on IBA.ventures, and what is the investment focus of I&P?

“I&P is looking for entrepreneurs managing small and medium-sized enterprises located in Sub Saharan Africa. These can be from different sectors (Agribusiness, Health, microfinance, building materials…). We care mostly about the added value that can be brought by the company on its market, and about its social impact.

We can invest directly in the company from Paris or one of our Africa offices, when the company’s financing need ranges from 300 000 euros to 1.5 million euros. In addition, we are sponsoring 10 African impact funds in 10 different countries (3 of them are now operational in Niger, Burkina Faso and Senegal) which enables us to reach more companies, smaller sized and whose investment needs range from 30 000 euros to 300 000 euros.”

What investments are you most proud of?

“We are proud of any investment that is a real game changer in Africa: a company that has built a strong local offer, that has a knock-on effect on this economic fabric and that has is run in a responsible and sustainable manner. Out of the 60 companies we have invested in, there is a good proportion of businesses of this kind, which make us very proud and happy! To have an idea of our investee companies, you can visit our website.”

What does “impact” mean to you when we are talking about “impact investing”?

“We call ourselves impact investors, since our real purpose is to maximize the impacts of our investees, thanks to the financial and strategic support we bring to them. We are committed to measuring and improving social and environmental impacts and reporting it to our LPs.”

Why do you believe it is important that impact investors invest in inclusive businesses in emerging and developing markets?

“There is a financial gap in most emerging countries for companies too large to be supported by microfinance institutions and too small to be considered by large banking groups. Nonetheless this “missing middle” represents a segment with the biggest potential for job creation. SMEs need to adopt responsible practices in their early years so that they can become champions at their local scale and become good examples to follow.”

How do you see the role of intermediaries in finding interesting investment opportunities for I&P?

“We usually do not work with intermediaries. Most of our deal flow comes from word of mouth.”

For the ventures registered on IBA.ventures, what would be your main advice to those looking for an investment from an impact investor like yourselves?

“My advice would be to contact us when the project is well advanced but not necessarily fully packed because most of the time it will evolve in discussing with our investment team.
It is also key to be patient. We aim at building long-term relationship based on trust with our investees: it obviously takes time to build this kind of relationship!”

Emilie Debled is Public Relations and Business Development Director at Investisseurs et Partenaires.