Technical Assistance Facility for the African Agriculture Fund is Launched

TAF will provide technical assistance to agriculture and food related businesses

October 20, 2011 – The 10-million Euro (US$ 13.3 million) Technical Assistance Facility (TAF) linked to the African Agriculture Fund (AAF), a private equity fund, managed by Phatisa, has been launched.

AAF was specifically designed to address food security challenges across the African continent. Reaching its first closing at US$ 151 million and commencing operations in January 2011, the AAF has a total target size of US$ 300 million. At first close, US$ 30 million of the fund has been allocated to investments in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through the dedicated AAF SME Fund. The purpose of the TAF is to provide technical assistance to agriculture and food related businesses that receive investment through the AAF, allowing them to create new opportunities for smallholder farmers, farmer business groups and rural communities. TechnoServe has been appointed to implement the day to day activities of this facility.

The Technical Assistance Facility is funded primarily by the European Union and managed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). IFAD was instrumental in developing the concept of the TAF and will supervise its activities and impacts.  IFAD will also provide technical, field-level expertise, and access to its network of projects to support the TAF. The Italian Development Cooperation, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the AAF are co-sponsors.

The assistance provided through the facility will focus on three main areas: creating outgrower systems that connect smallholders with investee companies, improving the business operations of SMEs invested in by the AAF SME Fund and promoting financial services in rural areas. As implementer of the Technical Assistance Facility, TechnoServe will work with Phatisa to identify the needs of the investee agribusinesses, develop proposals for support, identify providers to deliver this support and manage the delivery of projects to address these needs.

Through these projects, more than 20,000 smallholder farmers across Africa are expected to benefit from more predictable markets, higher yields and increased incomes. These farmers also will gain access to a broader range of financial products and services. The portfolio companies of the AAF are also projected to generate between 2,100 and 4,300 direct jobs, helping to drive the creation of thousands more.

About TechnoServe: TechnoServe empowers people in the developing world to build businesses that break the cycle of poverty. A growing enterprise generates jobs and creates other income opportunities for poor people, enabling them to improve their lives and secure a better future for their families. Since its founding in 1968, the U.S.-based nonprofit has helped to create or expand thousands of businesses, benefiting millions of people in more than 40 countries. The Financial Times has rated TechnoServe one of the top five NGOs for corporate partnerships. TechnoServe’s corporate partners include Cargill, The Coca-Cola Company, General Mills, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Nestlé-Nespresso, Olam International and Unilever, among others. Charity Navigator has also awarded its highest Four Star ranking to TechnoServe.

Sarah Holmes, the appointed Senior TAF Advisor, is a senior manager and business development specialist. As Business Development Manager for TechnoServe’s West and Southern Africa division she has led program design for initiatives in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe, has a deep understanding of the local sub-Saharan African business environment, and experience applying successful approaches to identify needs and tailor support for agribusiness-SMEs. Sarah brings significant experience from the private sector having served as a strategy consultant for over five years at Bain & Company. Sarah has worked and lived in Africa, France, Portugal, India and China. 

About Phatisa: Phatisa is a private equity fund management company, operating across sub-Saharan Africa, with offices in Mauritius, South Africa, Zambia, Kenya and West Africa in the near future. Phatisa comprises a team with a significant track record of managing private equity funds and agricultural businesses throughout the continent. The entire Phatisa team is located in Africa and spends a considerable amount of time developing relationships with strategic partners in all countries where AAF is active. This ensures that AAF has reliable networks and information in the countries in which it invests. Team members have a reputation built up over the last decade, which can be seen in their track records, on-the-ground network, and access to agricultural players and facilities on the continent. Phatisa provides the experience necessary to invest, manage and successfully exit what will be one of Africa’s most pioneering agricultural private equity funds.

About IFAD: The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) works with poor rural people to enable them to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes and determine the direction of their own lives. Since 1978, IFAD has invested about US$13.2 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries through projects empowering about 400 million people to break out of poverty, thereby helping to create vibrant rural communities. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome – the United Nation’s food and agricultural hub. It is a unique partnership of 167 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

For more information, please contact:

Andrew Eder, Marketing and Communications Manager
+1 (202) 719-1327,

Sarah Holmes, Senior TAF Advisor

Mylène Kherallah, Senior Technical Advisor
Private Sector Development, Rural Enterprises and Markets