Jacana makes first investment, into Kenya’s InReturn Capital

A UK-based investment and advisory firm concentrating on African venture capital managers has announced its first investment. Jacana Venture Partnership (www.jacana.org) on 29 June announced that it will invest in InReturn Capital (www.inreturncapital.com), a Kenya-based firm investing in East African small and medium enterprises.
Jacana’s aim is that by promoting a thriving venture capital industry in Africa it will enable small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to grow and help millions out of poverty through economic development and job creation. Jacana’s unique offering of capital and expertise will enable InReturn to reach its goals more rapidly. Access to finance is a major obstacle to the growth of African businesses.
According to Jacana’s mission statement, SMEs are a crucial driver of economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Every $1 invested in an SME generates an additional $10 in the local community and $1 of SME finance creates 3 times more jobs than an equivalent investment in microfinance.
International investors are increasingly interested in Africa but find it hard to choose SME fund managers in the target country since they often lack track records. Jacana mitigates this risk for investors by selecting high-quality teams and providing intensive support to local fund managers through a network of expert mentors – highly experienced private equity and venture capital professionals who can provide hands-on support to local teams. Stephen Dawson, Jacana’s Chairman, has over 30 years’ experience in UK private equity and is already actively involved with InReturn’s deal team in Nairobi.
Jacana selected InReturn as its first local partner because of its strong team and deal pipeline, after an extensive market review. InReturn’s East Africa Fund (target size $20 million) invests in SMEs in East Africa. The capital invested in InReturn’s business will support the expansion of the team into Tanzania and Uganda.
InReturn contributes to the profitability, sustainability and growth of the companies that it invests in through the active participation of its local investment team of 5 Kenyan and European professionals. InReturn East Africa Fund maintains a network of investors in Western Europe and has extensive financial and management experience.
Anthony Gichini, Managing Partner for InReturn Capital in Nairobi, said “Jacana’s investment of capital and expertise will help us to accelerate our business, and deliver returns to our investors as well as development impact in East Africa. Tanzania and Uganda are important markets for InReturn and we see significant opportunities to expand our team into these countries as we build our business together with Jacana”.
Jacana’s expertise, provided through its network of private equity expert mentors, will help InReturn to execute high-quality transactions and raise additional capital from international investors, using Jacana’s extensive contacts in the industry. Together, Jacana and InReturn aim to deliver attractive financial returns to investors in the fund, grow the private equity industry in Africa and thereby support the sustainable development of SMEs, leading to significant job creation in Africa.
Simon Merchant, CEO and co-founder of Jacana, commented in a press release: “This is the first step in growing our network of African partners, supported by international private equity experts. We are delighted to be working in close partnership with InReturn and look forward to supporting this excellent team in making successful SME investments in East Africa.”
Jacana aims to select the capital managers with highest potential growth for inclusion in the partnership network and then to work closely with them to create an attractive investment opportunity for international investors. Jacana is talking to several candidates for its next investment.


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