FinDev Canada backs AFF II

FinDev Canada has invested US$75 million in the Africa Forestry Fund II, a growth equity fund focused on acquiring and developing environmentally-friendly forestry value chain assets across Sub-Saharan Africa. Criterion Africa Partners manages the fund.


JOHANNESBURG, Nov. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — FinDev Canada announced an investment of USD 7.5 million in the Africa Forestry Fund II (AFF II), a growth equity fund focused on acquiring and developing environmentally-friendly forestry value chain assets across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Africa Sustainable Forestry Fund aims to build upon the success of the previous AFF I fund and to improve the reinvigoration of Africa’s forestry sector. The fund could create as many as 3500 jobs in local areas, with up to 30% of them being exclusively for women.

The Fund Manager, Criterion Africa Partners (CAP), concentrates on three key areas of the forestry value chain; the acquisition, improvement and rehabilitation of plantations, downstream manufacturing, and biomass energy. They invest in target companies in each of these processes exclusively in Sub-Saharan Africa. All forestry areas are managed to the stringent requirements of the Forest Stewardship Council.
AFF II aims to combat the impending shortage of wood and wood products in the region by building profitable forestry enterprises in Sub-Saharan Africa while conserving natural forests, enhancing biodiversity, and improving the lives of workers in their respective communities.

“FinDev Canada is excited to work with a fund that targets a much-needed industry in Africa,” said Suzanne Gaboury, Chief Investment Officer at FinDev Canada. “Leveraging private capital to find sustainable solutions in Africa’s forestry industry is paramount to its longevity, and to providing reliable employment opportunities to affected communities.”
Sustainable Business Practices and Positive Environmental Impact

FinDev Canada’s investment will contribute to significant CO2 sequestration, both through the natural carbon capture from trees and the replacement of fossil fuels with biomass and steam energy. Once fully invested, the companies supported by the fund could contribute to a reduction of up to 200,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Investing in AFF II will contribute to FinDev Canada’s long-term development impact goals and support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, SDG 8, Decent work and economic growth, SDG 13, Climate action, and SDG 15, Life on land. By design, AFF II has sustainability at its core as it utilizes best-in-class practices and certifications to bolster all aspects of the forestry value chain.

Through conscious forestry plantation operations in their target area, as well as increased productivity and better management practices, CAP has driven the rehabilitation and conservation of damaged forests, preventing illegal deforestation and mitigating further forest degradation.
The Fund’s portfolio companies are expected to contribute to maintaining or transitioning up to 50,000 hectares of forest land to sustainable land management.

The Fund requires operations of investee companies to meet the Forest Stewardship Council certification practices, which is the highest standard for sustainability in the forestry sector.
Providing Opportunities for Women in the Forestry sector
AFF II is making strides in women’s economic empowerment. Through the framework of the Women’s Economic Principles (WEP), CAP will use AFF II to improve access to employment for women in the forestry sector.

Furthermore, leveraging FinDev Canada’s recommended actions for women’s economic empowerment, the Fund seeks to diversify and increase the number of women in senior leadership as well, to ensure a commitment towards women economic empower at both the fund and investee level.

This holistic approach to gender equality in the forestry sector ensures that women are a part of the decision-making process every step of the way, leading to a transformation of Sub-Saharan Africa’s forestry industry that is sustainable, innovative and beneficial to everyone.

About FinDev Canada
The Development Finance Institute Canada Inc., operating under the FinDev Canada brand, is a Canadian institution dedicated to providing financial services to the private sector in developing countries with the aim of combating poverty through economic growth by focusing on three main themes: economic development through job creation, women economic empowerment, and climate change mitigation. The Development Finance Institute Canada Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Export Development Canada (EDC). Find out more about FinDev Canada here.

About Criterion Africa Partners
Criterion Africa Partners (CAP) is an employee owned private equity firm investing across the forestry value chain in sub-Saharan Africa. CAP has completed transactions in South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Gabon. In addition to its employees, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment is also a minority shareholder in CAP. The Grantham Foundation was established by Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham to support and invest in entrepreneurs and organizations developing solutions to climate change.