XSML, the fund manager active in Central & East Africa, announced its fifth investment in Uganda in Ecopharm Ltd. Ecopharm has a network of eight pharmacies in Kampala, through which it provides branded pharmaceuticals, branded generic medicines as well as locally produced pharmaceuticals. In addition Ecopharm sells over-the-counter medicines and personal care products. Ecopharm was started in 2008 by Idd Iwumbwe. Idd is a qualified pharmacist with over 19 years’ experience in running chain pharmacy businesses. Ecopharm’s pharmacies are strategically located on major roads in Kampala to enable easy access. Ecopharm targets affluent customers and distinguishes itself through quality, a broad range of products and personal service from a resident pharmacist at each outlet. This has led to a loyal customer base.
The African Rivers Fund (ARF) targets growing, well-managed small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Central & East African region covering Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Republic of Congo as well as - over time - Burundi. The fund is named after the two most powerful rivers in Africa, the Congo and Nile Rivers, which embody the potential of the Central & East African region. ARF has made 18 investments to date, deploying over 50% of capital.
Jarl Heijstee, Managing Partner at XSML says: “Ecopharm is one of the leading pharmacy chains in Uganda. The healthcare market is growing rapidly but there is a lack of affordable, high quality pharmacies. With this financing Ecopharm will be able to reach out with additional pharmacies in new neighborhoods in Kampala.”
Idd Iwumbwe, CEO of Ecopharm: “With the financing from XSML we are able to significantly increase our footprint across Kampala as well as increase our overall stock levels, providing a better offering to our clients. Through this long-term financing we are able to serve thousands of additional new customers with high quality pharmaceuticals. We are excited to have a new long-term partner that is also assisting us in implementing a new IT system to more efficiently manage our operations while we expand further.”
XSML believes that sustainable economic development in fast growing markets as the DRC and Uganda can be achieved by encouraging local entrepreneurship. Currently, many opportunities in these countries remain unexploited due to the lack of risk capital and support. By stimulating entrepreneurship, jobs and income are created. The African Rivers Fund continues CASF’s strategy with investments in between US$100,000 and US$5mn. Between the two funds XSML has provided technical assistance to over 35 companies to help them improve their operations and skills. Evidence of further impact can be found in various fields, with over 500 jobs created since 2011, over 4,000 additional pupils spread over three private schools and the addition of some 40 hospital beds, an operating theatre and maternity rooms in a clinic in Kinshasa, improving healthcare standards. All three investors in CASF (IFC, FMO and Lundin) were joined by Bio, CDC, DGGF, and Proparco for ARF.
Ecopharm Ltd is one of the leading chain pharmacies with eight branches in Kampala. It was incorporated in 2008 by Idd Iwumbwe, a qualified pharmacist with over 19 years of experience in the pharmaceutical sector. Ecopharm provides branded pharmaceuticals, branded generic medicines, locally manufactured pharmaceuticals as well as over-the-counter medicines and personal care and beauty products. Ecopharm sells its products to a range of clients including individuals as well as hospitals, clinics and health centers.
Although international investors show an increasing interest in emerging markets, the demand for finance from small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) remains largely untapped.
XSML, eXtra Small Medium Large, founded in 2008, bridges this gap by investing in small businesses to help them grow into medium and large enterprises. XSML manages two funds with a focus on frontier markets in Central and East Africa: the Central Africa SME Fund and the African Rivers Fund. Our local teams of 14 investment and operating professionals have experience in emerging and frontier markets in private equity, corporate and development banking and corporate restructuring with offices in Kinshasa (DRC), Kampala (Uganda) and Bangui (CAR).
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