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2023 Annual - (released February 2024)

SA's quarterly Private Equity & Venture Capital magazine

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Africa: from basket case to breadbasket

by Michael Avery

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I stopped an old man along the way, hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies. He turned to me as if to say, “Hurry boy, it’s waiting there for you.”

~ Africa by Toto

 

In the heart of Africa’s transformative journey towards becoming a net exporter of food, a new chapter is being written, guided by the winds of change brought by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The narrative is set for the agricultural sector to emerge as the protagonist in this story, igniting Africa’s domestic processing capacity and ushering in a denouement of economic rewards. Among the lead authors of this fresh new story is Amos Dairies, the latest venture under the strategic wing of EXEO Capital’s Agri-Vie Fund II.

Agri-Vie Fund II, a US$150m food and agri-business investment juggernaut managed by EXEO Capital, is strategically positioned to leverage the expansive landscape of sub-Saharan Africa. From the farm to the table, this fund spans the entire food and agribusiness value chain, making it a dynamic force in shaping the future of agriculture across the continent.

Paul Nguru, Partner at EXEO Capital, sheds light on the latest development, where Agri-Vie Fund II earmarks $10m for Amos Dairies’ next strategic growth phase. This injection of capital positions Amos Dairies as a key player in Uganda’s dairy sector, standing tall as the largest milk processor in the country, and the sole processor of casein in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Amos Dairies has not just secured a foothold in the market; it has become a standout player in the value-added African dairy sector. Through our Agri-Vie funds, we’ve successfully invested in other dairy processors across the continent. This recent investment is a natural progression, allowing us to build on our experience and extend the Fund’s reach into Uganda and beyond,” remarks Nguru.

Amos Dairies, an African success story with vast potential, currently manufactures a diverse array of nine products, ranging from ghee and butter to casein and various milk powders. The production of casein, a crucial milk protein with a global market value of $2,7bn in 2020, gives Amos Dairies a significant competitive edge.

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Nguru highlights Amos Dairies’ strategic positioning, with around 90% of its revenue derived from exports to markets such as Egypt, Kenya, India, and America. This not only provides a natural hedge to foreign exchange risks, but also positions the dairy giant to tap into dollar revenue streams, aligning with the interests of both Amos Dairies and EXEO’s diverse portfolio.

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However, what sets Amos Dairies apart is not just its product diversification and export success; it’s the positive impact it has on smallholder farmers. Currently supporting 1,600 farmers, Amos Dairies plans to grow its workforce by 80% over the next five years, creating 140 new jobs. Doubling milk volumes during this period will directly benefit approximately 3,200 smallholder farmers.

Nguru emphasises the centrality of impact in their investment strategy, stating, “Investing in African food and agribusiness companies is about nurturing prosperity. These enterprises represent windows of opportunity, fostering sustainable development on the continent. While economic viability is paramount, we deeply appreciate the transformative impact such investments can have.”

As part of EXEO Capital’s portfolio, Amos Dairies gains more than just financial support. EXEO will provide governance support, opening doors to new markets and customer bases through their extensive networks. Over the next five years, potential partnerships with EXEO’s existing dairy portfolio companies and the development of value-added products are on the horizon.

EXEO Capital aims to guide Amos Dairies strategically, enhancing corporate governance, optimising operations, and fortifying environmental and social governance practices. Mal Beniston, Chair of the Board at Amos Dairies Limited, echoes the sentiment, emphasising the shared commitment to agricultural and agribusiness development across the continent.

In this transformative story, EXEO Capital’s trust in Amos Dairies’ vision propels them to push boundaries in dairy production, while uplifting communities and fostering economic resilience. As the investment arc unfolds, collaboration, growth and a positive impact on Africa’s agricultural landscape are the supporting cast, hopefully changing the narrative from basket case to breadbasket.

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