Baobab Capital is an alternative investments manager that invests in early stage businesses in Southern Africa, growing them into medium and large-scale enterprises. Through the Baobab Growth Fund, Baobab Capital has shown that with adequate capital and the right support, early stage ventures can thrive by tapping into regional value chains, thereby optimising financial management and increasing logistics efficiency. We have developed a proven roadmap for scaling early stage businesses in Southern Africa with the right people, a scalable business model, regional value chains and supplier linkages, and strategic partnerships.
Baobab Capital has gained considerable insight into the countries in Southern Africa by managing the Baobab Growth Fund (“BGF”), focused on Namibia. BGF is fully invested in sectors covering ICT, Industrials and Consumer. By developing an investment thesis for each of its portfolio companies that is scalable into the region, Baobab Capital has uncovered opportunities to leverage the untapped potential of existing and planned infrastructure, free trade incentives and regional economic integration policy initiatives. These insights and opportunities have led to the development of Baobab Growth Fund II (the “Fund”). As an active fund manager, another key insight that came out of managing BGF was the discovery that at the early growth stage of the businesses in which we invest, the most important requirement for success (and therefore the most important risk we manage) is PEOPLE. Most of the early stage risks are related to execution, and by extension, the people who execute.
Thus, the questions we ask to try to understand whether or not we can add value include:
We have found success with this approach while investing in nine portfolio companies, because people are a critical component in our decision-making process and ultimate success. An active management approach that strives to combine the trust gained through partnership with operational involvement, ESG, systems and people. Effectively a catalyst for creating alignment of purpose.
Jerome has 20 years’ experience in the finance sector in Africa, Europe and North America.
Jerome founded the Baobab Growth Fund in 2014 to invest in early stage businesses in Namibia. The fund secured a commitment from the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) in 2015. Jerome recruited a diverse investment team, designed the fund structure and focus, negotiated with investors and led the team to invest in nine portfolio companies in three years. He is passionate about his role as the Chief Sustainability Officer at Baobab.
Jerome worked in the impact-investing sector in Canada for six years. He headed early-stage funding and business development services for a Canadian Government-sponsored social impact fund, where he was the Start-up Manager. In this capacity, he funded and advised more than 20 start-ups which successfully developed and executed business plan implementation while evaluating their impact on employment.
Jerome’s diverse experiences in finance and growing businesses has helped him develop an intimate understanding of the value of using capital as a catalyst to sustainably grow businesses. He has leveraged his interpersonal skills to work with founders and management teams to influence strategy; implement policies and processes; and guide growth.
Jerome has a degree in Economics, an MBA (University of Stellenbosch), a Certificate in Financial Analysis and Investment Management (University of Toronto) and a Certificate in Advanced Valuation (New York University)
Monde was Baobab’s third employee and has been central to the development of all policies and processes. She has grown from starting as the Fund Manager to the Operations Manager, managing a team of three.
Her 10 years’ experience in accounting and finance includes: fund administration and accounting; investor and regulatory reporting; compliance; and investor communication. Her personal and professional skills are crucial to establishing and maintaining key relationships, internal controls, processes and policies, and strategies.
Her diverse skillset can be attributed to her work at Financial Consulting Services (an SME-focused Audit and Advisory Services firm) and Tongaat Hulett Namibia (Pty) Ltd, which provided her with expertise in taxation, financial accounting, bookkeeping, internal auditing, trade administration and company secretarial duties. She brings her expertise of working with various SMEs, government agencies and other regulatory authorities to provide a comprehensive understanding of stakeholder needs.
She has a B Com degree with specialisation in Internal Auditing from the University of Pretoria and has concluded the coursework toward a Masters in Finance (to be awarded in 2019).
Nico’s professional experience over the past 20 years has been environment, social and governance (ESG) focused. His work experience with the World Bank has sharpened his skill to identify and address pertinent ESG issues. In 2007 he was commissioned by the International Association for Impact Assessment and the Southern African Institute for Environmental Assessment to analyse the predicted and actual impacts of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, Africa’s first multi-billion-dollar infrastructure project. This, as one of numerous experiences, demanded a robust blend of scientific, analytical, social, environmental and governance skills, coupled with Nico’s deep passion for fact-finding and data mining. Importantly, Nico brings an intimate understanding of climate change and its observed and predicted impacts, which includes the Paris Climate Agreement and its relation to private sector and, as well as the role of the global private sector as an affected stakeholder and important catalyst.
Nico has worked across all sectors of the economy and society, including marine fisheries and coastal management, port and harbour development, tourism, conservation (national parks and conservancies), mining, infrastructure development, mariculture, water, energy and agriculture. He has engaged professionally with ministers to establish the Benguela.
Current Commission, empowering local communities to understand and implement their conservancy management instruments, and with private industry advising on impact avoidance and mitigation. He thoroughly grasps key sector processes and value chains, and the positive and negative impacts. This depth of technical experiential knowledge and understanding, complemented by his ability to engage all stakeholders, enable him to implement best-appropriate ESG actions that are concrete value additions at compliance, company valuation, risk mitigation and sustainable growth levels.
His current focus is mainstreaming ESG throughout Baobab Capital, its subsidiaries and portfolio companies and, demonstrating linkages with national development goals and the global Sustainable Development Goals.
Maria is a Research Associate at Baobab Capital (Pty) Ltd and serves as the team member for the Principles of Responsible Investments (PRI) to which Baobab Capital is a signatory. She brings 10 years’ experience in research and policy analysis. She holds a Master of Philosophy in Development Finance from the University of Stellenbosch and a Bachelor’s in Economics from the University of Namibia.
Maria has co-authored diverse publications covering economic, socio-economic and socio-political issues as part of the research team at the Labour Resource and Research Institution (LaRRI). These publications include: immigrants and access to social protection (2011); and the gap between the ILO convention on domestic workers and the Namibian labour laws (2012).
She was a member of the team that formulated and reviewed Namibia’s National Agriculture Policy as well as the Meat Industry Act of 1981, during her time at the policy and planning division of the Ministry of Agriculture. At the Meat Board of Namibia, Maria managed the Infant Industry Protection and marketing restriction schemes for small stock and pork. She was also responsible for the quarterly performance analysis of the meat industry, which informed the decisions and policy inputs aimed at improving the entire meat value chain for its stakeholders.
Aylwin joined the Baobab Capital investment team in March 2017. He works with the Portfolio Manager and members of the operations team to manage the investment process; screen target companies; perform valuations, financial analysis and modelling; support due diligence; and prepare investment proposals for presentation to the Investment Committee. He also supports deal structuring, monitoring and evaluation, and quarterly reporting.
Prior to taking on his role as an Analyst with Baobab, Aylwin spent two years in the power generation industry as Post Graduate Trainee (Finance) with the Zimbabwe Power Company, and 1 year in the manufacturing sector with Delta Beverages. He worked in the finance department to improve and standardise financial analysis and risk management tools and supported the development of a common database (SAP, Basis II and Syspro). Aylwin was also tasked with building models in excel for cost analysis, budgeting and budgetary control, project M&E and contracts administration for internal clients and users.
Aylwin holds a BCom (honours) Degree in Finance from the University of Science and Technology (NUST- Zimbabwe). He is currently working on his MBA Finance thesis, is an affiliate member of the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) and is a CAIA Level I candidate.
Rosemary has more than 15 years’ experience in public and private equity portfolio and unit trust administration.
Her experience in the field of fund administration include investment accounting, operations process optimisation, risk management and compliance. Since joining Baobab Capital, Rosemary has improved fund and portfolio company reporting processes and is part of the ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) team that is working to integrate UN Principles of Responsible Investments (PRI) monitoring indicators into portfolio company processes.
Rosemary is a member of the dynamic Environmental Economics Network of Namibia and a Project Hope volunteer.
Rosemary is an Economics graduate from the University of Namibia and is working towards her UNPRI certification.