Ascent announces first close of Ascent Rift Valley Fund II

18 May 2021

African private equity fund manager Ascent today announced the first rolling close of its Ascent Rift Valley Fund II (ARVF II) at more than US$100mn, significantly exceeding its initial target of US$80mn. The final close of ARVF II, with a target of US$120mn, is expected in December 2021.

ARVF II will invest equity in leading small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Eastern Africa, looking to take large minority or majority stakes. The fund will provide funding to scalable SME businesses, helping to drive wider business and industrial development, particularly targeting the financial services, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade and services, education, healthcare, and agro-processing sectors. ARVF II seeks to invest in growing companies with the courage and ambition to become best-in-class, thereby creating a league of "regional enterprise champions" in East Africa. ARVF II has already made its first investment into financial services in January 2021.

Investors in ARVF II include leading Africa investors such as BIO (Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries, CDC Group (the UK's development finance institution), FMO (Dutch entrepreneurial development bank), IFC (the International Finance Corporation), Norfund (the Norwegian investment fund for developing countries), Proparco (a subsidiary of Agence Française de Développement (AFD) focused on private sector development through AFD Group’s FISEA fund), SDG Frontier Fund, impact investors and major Kenyan pension funds.

"We are proud to have raised this additional capital from prominent investors to invest in Africa's most promising companies," said David Owino, Founding Partner of Ascent. "We are now well-positioned to become the leading SME fund manager in East Africa, empowering ambitious entrepreneurs with capital and knowledge from our local advisory teams."

“I am thrilled to see both existing investors from ARVF I and new investors come together to underwrite our vision of building strong East African companies," added Ascent's Founding Partner Lucas Kranck. "The fact that we were able to mobilise capital for these markets amidst a global pandemic is testament to their enormous potential."

ARVF II will promote environmental, social and governance best practices in its portfolio companies in order to drive growth and value, create quality jobs, limit environmental impact, increase government tax revenues and further empower local economies.

“We are thrilled that our investment in ARVF II will enhance Ascent’s ability to offer capital to promising SMEs, which significantly contribute to business activities and employment of a large proportion of the working population in East Africa”, Sara Taylor, Head of SME Funds at CDC Group, said. “With CDC’s investment in ARVF II, we are pleased to be partnered with a GP that has a track record of supporting the growth of SMEs. CDC has built a collaborative partnership with Ascent that spans over six years, and we’re glad to continue to back its growth – helping to usher in increased capital that will bolster sustainable economic growth across the region.”

“With this investment in Ascent’s second fund, Proparco is proud to support increased access to Private Equity for the East African SMEs. Thanks to its decentralized organization (with local offices in Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda), the Ascent team has demonstrated its ability to support local entrepreneurs in expanding their business while concurrently fostering the implementation of high ESG standards. The French initiative Choose Africa, which the AFD Group has been deploying since 2018, relies on such talented and committed partners to best support startups and SMEs on the African continent”, says Tibor Asboth, Deputy Head of Equity, Africa & Middle East at Proparco.  

“IFC’s support for the Ascent Rift Valley Fund II is a vote of confidence in the dynamism of SMEs in East Africa and comes as the region is working to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19. Supporting entrepreneurship and smaller businesses is a major pillar of IFC’s strategy in Africa because it contributes significantly to job creation and economic growth”, said Amena Arif, IFC Country Manager for East Africa and Malawi.

Jaap Reinking, Director, Private Equity at FMO said: “We are very pleased to commit to Ascent Capital’s second fund. By doing so we support a very trustworthy and capable private equity fund manager active in supporting SMEs with risk capital in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia.  These East African countries are growing rapidly and need equity capital to get through and recover from the temporary economic development setback due to the pandemic.”


Work at Auto Springs, the leading Kenyan manufacturer of truck springs and harnesses, an investee company of Ascent Rift Valley Fund I

Media Contacts:

Ascent: Lucas Kranck | +254 720 63 0057 |

CDC: Toyosi Adebayo | +44 (0) 788 037 2305 |

FMO: Anneloes Roeleveld| +31 70 314 9357 |


Ascent is a leading SME African private equity fund manager, supported by local advisory companies in Nairobi, Addis Ababa, and Kampala. Its investors include prestigious development finance institutions as well as private and institutional investors from Europe and Africa.

Ascent’s predecessor fund Ascent Rift Valley Fund I (with USD 80 million of committed capital) had its first close in 2014 and made nine investments in Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya across a variety of sectors including healthcare, distribution, financial services, and manufacturing,


ARVF II is a private equity fund managed by Ascent Capital Management Africa II Ltd (domiciled in Mauritius), and its sub-advisors in Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya. The fund will invest in small- and medium-sized enterprises in Eastern Africa, looking to take substantial minority or majority stakes in growing and ambitious companies. Target sectors include manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade and services, financial services, education, healthcare, and agro-processing.

About CDC

CDC Group is the UK’s impact investor with over 70 years of experience of successfully supporting the sustainable, long-term growth of businesses in South Asia and Africa. CDC is a leading player in the fight against climate change and a UK champion of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – the global blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for us all. The company has investments in over 1,200 businesses in emerging economies and a total portfolio value of $6.2bn.

This year CDC aims to invest $1.75bn in companies in Africa and Asia with a focus on fighting climate change, empowering women and creating new jobs and opportunities for millions of people. CDC is funded by the UK government and all proceeds from its investments are reinvested to improve the lives of millions of people in Africa and South Asia. CDC’s expertise makes it the perfect partner for private investors looking to devote capital to making a measurable environmental and social impact in countries most in need of investment.

About Proparco

Proparco is the private sector financing arm of Agence Française de Développement Group (AFD Group). It has been promoting sustainable economic, social and environmental development for over 40 years. Proparco provides funding and support to both businesses and financial institutions in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Its action focuses on the key development sectors: infrastructure, mainly for renewable energies, agribusiness, financial institutions, health and education.

Its operations aim to strengthen the contribution of private players to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the international community in 2015. To this end, Proparco finances companies whose activity contributes to creating jobs and decent incomes, providing essential goods and services and combating climate change. For a World in Common.

For further information: and @Proparco


IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2020, we invested US$22 billion in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit



FMO is the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank. As a leading impact investor, FMO supports sustainable private sector growth in developing countries and emerging markets by investing in ambitious projects and entrepreneurs. FMO believes that a strong private sector leads to economic and social development and has a close to 50-year proven track-record of empowering people to employ their skills and improve their quality of life. FMO focuses on three sectors that have high development impact: financial institutions, energy, and agribusiness, food & water. With a committed portfolio of EUR 9.7 billion spanning over 85 countries, FMO is one of the larger bilateral private sector developments banks globally. For more information: please visit

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