In the May 1998, SEAF established a $10.7 million SME equity fund to invest in early stage small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Baltics Small Equity Fund (BSEF) established offices in the capitals of each of these three former Soviet states, making 23 investments across the three uniquely different nations. After gaining independence from Soviet economic policies, the region saw enormous growth in the private sector. Privatization efforts in Latvia led to the development of a dynamic private sector that comprised nearly 68% of the country’s GDP in 2000.
Hoping to bolster this growing private sector in the region, the BSEF team worked at the local level, assisting its companies with financial management, business strategy, and international legal arrangements. Benefitting from such support, the fund’s portfolio companies achieved spectacular growth over the life of BSEF’s investments. In 2010, BSEF exited its final investment in the region, completeing the life of the fund with positive returns for its shareholders. BSEF’s portfolio companies included a manufacturer of energy generators fueled by compressed biomass, an office supplies distribution company, a maker of safety glass, an internet news agency, and a software house developing GPS-based mapping software.