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SEAF’s 2018 Year in Review

SEAF’s 2018 Year in Review

As SEAF embarks on its 30th anniversary year in 2019, we would like to thank our investors, entrepreneurs, and employees for a wonderful and full 2018. Over the course of the year, we scaled our operations across the globe, adding valuable new team members and increasing both SEAF’s and CEED’s footprint across the globe.  We made a number of investments that will create impacts in sectors ranging from education to organic foods, while also achieving a number of successful exits. Finally, our mission of aiming for sustainable development through local entrepreneurs also benefitted by CEED’s further expansion. This note will touch upon the highlights.

Additions to the SEAF Team 

2018 saw the return of one of SEAF’s first employees, Agnes Dasewicz, as a member of SEAF’s Board of Directors.  Agnes brings more than 20 years of experience in private equity investment at AIG, impact investment at Rockefeller and the Grass Roots Business Fund, and development at USAID and IFC.  Agnes’ first job was with SEAF. We are proud of all she has achieved and excited about her return as a member of our board.

The firm also added two Senior Managing Directors – Jennifer Buckley and Roberto Velarde, both of whom form part of the SEAF leadership team. Jennifer, based in Singapore leads the firm’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Program. Roberto, based in Miami, oversees SEAF’s Latin America investments and Strategic Partnerships.

SEAF’s international investment teams benefitted from additions in the LATAM and MENA regions. Based in Guatemala, Jose Ordoñez joined SEAF as an Advisor, and will be leading initiatives focused on Central America. In the MENA region, SEAF Morocco Capital Partners brought on Sidi Zakraoui as Vice President of Investments.

The Washington, D.C. office also expanded with the additions of Mara James, whose role spans marketing, investor reporting, and impact management, and Fazela Mahmoodi, who serves as Grants Manager.

Expanding the SEAF Footprint

 As SEAF expanded its team, we also established new investment entities and opened offices in several different locations in anticipation of the closing of a number of new funds in 2019.

In Singapore, we formed SEAF Southeast Asia Management PTE LTD to work closely with and provide management for our existing and new initiatives in Southeast Asia. To manage our work in the Caribbean, we created SEAF Caribbean Management LLC. SEAF has registered this management entity with Trinidad & Tobago’s SEC, and with Jamaica’s Companies Office, in order to work in these locations.  To prepare for SEAF’s Maghreb initiatives, we formed SEAF Spain Capital Partners in Barcelona which will provide regional guidance and management.  Together with our partner, SEAF has also registered a Fund Management vehicle, SEAF Algeria SPA, in Algeria.

Additionally, we established and registered SEAF Morocco Capital Partners, the vehicle managing the SEAF Morocco Growth Fund, with L’Autorité Marocaine du Marché des Capitaux (the Moroccan Capital Market Authority). This fund has already achieved its first closing at 180 million dirhams and has completed its first two investments.

Investments 

SEAF completed eleven investments in 2018 across a range of sectors and geographies.

In Central and Eastern Europe, SEAF successfully completed three investments.  The SEAF Macedonia II Fund completed an investment in Geonet, a Skopje-based GPS software and service provider that is the national leader in GPS solutions and is expanding its footprint across North America and Sub-Saharan Africa.  Additionally, the SEAF Opportunity Serbia Fund[1] made two investments in 2018, Bio Spajz and EMU.  Bio Spajz is the leading retailer and wholesaler of premium health and organic food products in Belgrade. EMU is one of the preeminent value-added distributors in the Serbian office furniture sector.

In Southeast Asia, the SEAF Women’s Opportunity Fund (SWOF), an Australian government supported fund making gender lens investments, completed three investments. The first investment was in Phuong Chau Joint Stock Company, an OB/GYN and specialties healthcare facility in southern Vietnam. A second investment was made in Dream Viet Education, which operates Kyna, a leading provider of online education courses targeting Vietnamese learners, both children and adults. SWOF also invested in Organica, a leading Vietnamese retailer and wholesaler of organic and natural foods and beverages.

In Bangladesh, SEAF Bangladesh BV made an investment in Digicon, a rapidly growing value-added business processing outsourcing company. Additionally, SEAF Bangladesh made a second investment in Seven Oceans Fish Processing Limited, an aquaculture processing company for fresh and saltwater fish.

In the MENA region, the SEAF Morocco Growth Fund invested in 3Dental, an innovative healthcare company with proprietary technology for dental implant surgery using 3D software and printing techniques.  3Dental not only reduces the risk and guesswork involved in dental implants, but also is able to provide precise work plans and dental guides—printed out via the internet and 3-D printing—to dental surgeons not only in Morocco but worldwide. The Fund also invested in Edukaty, an online education system providing content relevant to a wide range of learning ages.  Using the best teachers available, Edukaty has developed a “one to many” live virtual private tutoring service, which allows these teachers to deliver seamless live teaching experience to students preparing for the top schools in France over the internet, regardless of their location.

Finally, in Tanzania, KASI Agriventures, SEAF’s local entity, made a substantial loan to AKM Glitters, a first generation woman entrepreneur-owned poultry company that aims to provide quality poultry and feed to small-scale farmers through a wide distribution network.

Exits

In addition to making the foregoing new investments, SEAF made significant equity exits in Colombia, Poland, Bangladesh and China.  SEAF also wound up its Vietnamese fund, the Blue Waters Growth Fund, as well as its Afghan Growth Facility, with positive returns.

Scaling Impact

As part of its 30-year commitment to achieving impact through its investments, SEAF continued to build out the scope and structure of its Impact Program, welcoming Mara James as the new Impact Manager. We also published the SEAF Gender Equity Scorecard©(GES), an internally developed tool, designed to analyze the extent to which investees are creating equitable conditions for women within their companies and broader community.  This tool additionally provides structure for SEAF’s gender lens investment program. The GES has been recognized across the industry for its potential to advance Gender-focused investing, including by Bloomberg in an article from September 2018. SEAF has also been active in developing an investment approach targeting investments and entrepreneurs with the goal of benefitting migrants and refugees.

In 2018, SEAF also sought to better align its work with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of seventeen goals that “provide a blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet”.[2] SEAF has now incorporated the SDGs into all new investments alongside each company’s individual impact thesis. While the SDGs were formally established in 2015, SEAF’s work has generally been in alignment with the framework since our establishment in 1989.  Over the course of our 30 years, SEAF has almost exclusively invested in companies consistent with each of the 17 SDGs.

CEED

2018 was also a big year for CEED as it continued to expand its global network into North and Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, CEED launched a new chapter-based model of its program.  This model allows entrepreneurs to start a CEED chapter in their own city, whereas the traditional expansion model required quite a bit of startup capital from international development partnerships.  This pilot came from many years of hearing from entrepreneurs who ask, “when are you coming to our city/country?” and is helping to spread our global network of entrepreneurs out of (traditionally) just capital cities and into secondary and tertiary cities.

Additionally, CEED is piloting its first chapter in Dodoma, Tanzania with three founders and 20 entrepreneur members in its first cohort.  In nearly 15 years of operation, the organization has primarily operated in major cities, but for the first time, CEED is establishing centers in rural Tunisia with programs in 14 cities targeting both early stage and growth stage companies.  CEED Morocco has also taken steps to establish chapters in Rabat and El Jadida.

In October, CEED hosted its Global Conference in Tunis, which brought together its community of entrepreneurs from around the world and featured both serial entrepreneur John Kuruvilla from India and 9-time entrepreneur Jozef Wallis from the UK.  CEED also brought our entrepreneurs to Chicago via our Business Envoy to meet with industry leaders and investors to learn about strategies for growth and innovations across industries coming out of Chicago.

Other News and Notes

SEAF directors were invited to speak on several panels, including at the Impact Investing session at the EMPEA Global Conference in Washington, DC in May, and to speak on Migrants and Refugee Investing at the SOCAP conference in San Francisco in October.

Ahead of the 30th anniversary, the SEAF website underwent a complete redesign. We hope that the new format better showcases the work of SEAF, our international team and our global footprint as well as enhanced layouts for news and insights.=

In 2018, SEAF also offered its first Impact Fund Manager Training program, which was attended by more than a dozen professionals across the impact investing landscape. Led by Bob Webster, our in-house fund training programs instructor, the event featured sessions designed by members of SEAF’s global team, including Jamal Abisourour and Ingrid Chou, with a session on fund modeling designed and led by SEAF’s Robert Vodicka.

And last, but not least, SEAF was nominated for two Private Equity International Awards – Frontier Market Firm of the Year and Firm of the Year in MENA. Thank you to everyone who voted for us!

And thank you to all our supporters who are committed to achieving impact in underserved markets through local entrepreneurs. We look forward to celebrating our 30th anniversary with you this year!

 

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[1] This fund will soon be transitioned into the SEAF Serbia Impact Fund, a new initiative with broader opportunities.

[2] https://outreach.un.org/ngorelations/content/sdgs-report-2018