ECP backs Sub-Saharan African microfinance firm

The Africa-focussed private equity shop has invested $15m in Blue Financial Services, a non-deposit taking micro lender.

Emerging Capital Partners has purchased $15 million (€9.7 million) in convertible bonds and common shares of Blue Financial, a microfinance lender in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The investment was made from ECP’s second fund, closed in 2005 on $523 million, and is part of the lender’s ongoing capital raising programme to expand operations.

Blue Financial, listed on the Alternative Exchange Index of the JSE Securities Exchange, has $140 million in assets and 190 branches throughout South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Cameroon and Lesotho.

“We have studied the success of microfinance institutions throughout Africa, and we believe that Blue Financial is well poised to expand upon its position as a leading multinational micro lender,” Genevieve Sangudi, managing director of ECP, said in a statement.

ECP targets sectors throughout Africa including telecom, natural resources, financial services, agribusiness, transportation and infrastructure.

Its second fund was roughly 80 percent committed as of October 2007.