The Open Society Foundations has announced a $10 million investment in a $100 million fund designed to support business development in Ethiopia.
The Soros Economic Development Fund, the foundations' impact investing arm, will join several regional and national development funds as limited partners in the Cepheus Capital Growth Fund. Launched by Cepheus Growth Capital Partners, the fund will provide much-needed foreign capital to private businesses in Ethiopia, with a focus on manufacturing, agro-processing, and education and healthcare services. In addition, the fund has set a target of allocating 30 percent of its funds to women-owned businesses.
Established in 1997 by Open Society founder George Soros with the aim of creating economic opportunities for those who face systemic discrimination or exclusion, the Soros Economic Development Fund makes impact investments in agriculture, financial services, affordable housing, and health care. Other investors in the Cepheus Capital Growth Fund include the CDC Group, the European Investment Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and Norfund.
"Despite the positive political and economic changes under way in Ethiopia, the country is still viewed by many private international investment institutions as a challenge, making it hard for local companies to get the capital they need for growth," said Soros Economic Development Fund investment principal Jocelyn Songco. "We have great confidence in the experienced local team at Cepheus and believe this fund can play an important role in catalyzing greater investment from abroad in the years ahead while creating impact."