First female PE fund stars at Africa Investment Forum

12 Nov 2019

4 Years, 3 Continents, 2 Women, 1 Plan


The first female-led African private equity fund took centre stage at the African Investment Forum, when the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Akinwumi Adesina said “Alitheia IDF last year here, committed to raise funds for female led businesses they have raised US$72mn, promise made, promise kept.”

The fund is the brainchild of Alitheia IDF led by Polo Leteka-Radebe and Tokunboh Ishmael and is set to change the narrative around the empowerment of women in the investment space on the continent. The launch signals the beginning of a move that wants to see women equal men in the investment space. Management consultancy guru’s Mckinsey estimates there is the potential to add US$28trn (or 26%) to global annual GDP by the end of 2025 if parity is achieved with women participating in the economy identically to men.

Principal Partner, Tokunboh Ishmael in Nigeria said:

“With women controlling over US$20trn in worldwide spending, Alitheia IDF’s Gender Smart Fund will facilitate our collective abilities to better meet women’s needs, wants, tastes and preferences to boost Africa’s GDP. We are unapologetically proactively seeking to finance and support women-led business.”

The fund, supported by, African Development Bank, Industrial Development Cooperation, Bank of Industry Nigeria, FinDev Canada, and Dutch Good Growth Fund plans to leverage the power of women as producers and consumers in the economy from boardroom to factory floor. The outcome will lead to diverse perspectives that enhance decision making and corporate governance to boost innovation and business performance. 

Explaining why the fund is necessary Polo Leteka-Radebe Principal Partner in South Africa said: “With women making up the majority of the world population, Africa cannot afford the majority of its citizens not being fully leveraged to unlock the economic potential that we possess as a continent. We take inter regional trade seriously and want to help unlock the economic potential that this will bring to the future prosperity of our continent.

The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Akinwumi Adesina, explained why he is committed to support empowerment of women in business with Alitheia IDF. He said:

“Our goal isn’t complicated it is simple, to back women-owned businesses, spark innovation and unleash prosperity for women across Africa. Investing in women entrepreneurs in Africa must happen, because women are not only Africa’s future, they are Africa’s present. Currently, women operate over 40% of SMEs in Africa, but there is a financing gap of US$42bn between male and female entrepreneurs. This gap must be closed, and quickly.”


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