Thank you for the last 9 years

16 Jun 2020

Dear members, partners and friends,

Today I’m writing to share the news that it’s time for me to step aside after nearly 9 years at the helm of AVCA.

The world today is at a historic moment of reflection as we consider how to build more inclusive, resilient and sustainable societies. The investment community has an important contribution to make in bringing us closer to this future and AVCA is deeply engaged in this process as an organisation committed to continuous improvement and scaling impact. The past decade has been a tough period for the African private equity industry, with capital flight following the 2008 financial crisis, commodity price crashes and shaken investor confidence.

Despite these headwinds, much has been achieved: the industry has demonstrated its resilience and continued to mobilise investment despite challenging conditions, generating impact and supporting millions of jobs. Moreover, private equity and venture capital have played a key role in accelerating the growth of some of the continent’s most exciting companies, ranging from start-ups to established players in diverse sectors, including financial services, healthcare, energy and telecommunications.

2020 marks AVCA’s 20th anniversary. Africa today is in many ways light years beyond where we stood in 2000, when The Economist described it as the “hopeless continent”. Since then, governance has improved considerably, economies have opened up, extreme poverty, mortality and illiteracy have all fallen to historic lows, while the GDP of sub-Saharan Africa has more than tripled. The PE industry has a critical role to play in the continent’s continued transformation, by accelerating the progress made over the last 20 years and driving innovation, and by acknowledging and addressing the areas where progress has not matched expectations. More will be asked of LPs, GPs and other industry stakeholders as we enter this new chapter. I’m confident the industry will rise to the occasion and generate even greater impact over the next two decades.

As the industry body, it is the right time to examine our role and ask ourselves how we can best reflect and serve our members as they navigate these new challenges and opportunities. We are re-imagining how we operate as an organisation and re-designing the ways we support our members, pivoting to new areas of focus and intervention that enable our members to scale impact and advocate collectively. As an organisation, AVCA remains committed to harnessing its resources, networks and expertise to promote and enable private investment in Africa.

I would like to thank all of you who have played a critical role in creating, galvanising and building AVCA over the past 20 years – board members past and present, management, team, members, partners and stakeholders. The Association has grown considerably since I joined in 2011, both in numbers and capabilities. Our research team has become the most authoritative source of private investment data on the continent and our annual conference, the industry highlight, grew from less than 200 attendees in 2012 to over 500 in 2019. Over the last decade, our membership has grown significantly, with over 150 today, collectively managing over US$ 1.5trn in assets. I’m particularly proud of the Association’s work in mobilising much-needed commercial capital to the continent over this period.

Whilst I take some time to spend with my son and consider my next steps, please note that wherever my next role takes me, Africa will always remain in my heart.

Warm regards,

Michelle Kathryn Essomé

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