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Middle East & North Africa

Emerging Capital Partners: Investing in Africa’s small businesses

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Country: Tunisia
Sector: Consumer Products

Challenge: Promising young businesses in Africa often struggle to raise sufficient capital to grow their operations, while foreign investors often lack the deep knowledge of the continent needed to identify the most promising opportunities.

Solution: One of the ways OPIC supports development is by investing in emerging market private equity funds with deep roots and expertise in local markets. One of the funds OPIC has supported is Emerging Capital Partners (ECP), which invests in Africa. In 2008, ECP invested in Société d'Articles Hygiéniques (SAH), a woman-owned manufacturer of feminine and baby hygiene products based in Tunisia.

Impact: The business was able to use investment funds to expand its customer base into 17 countries in Africa, while growing its employee base to 2,000 people. From one initial factory based in Tunisia, the company, has added plants in Algeria and Libya and plans to expand further.

In early 2014, the business went public in the largest listing ever on the Tunis Stock Exchange. SAH CEO and co-founder Jalila Mezni, was awarded a Special Commendation from the judges of the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship, which are run by the African Leadership Network and Omidyar Network, in recognition of the company’s socio-economic impact in Africa, and for building a business with strong market share and growth potential.

This project was profiled in 2014