10 Jul SEAF invests in Food Innovation to boost export opportunities for Tunisian SMEs
Tunis, Tunisia; July 13, 2023 – SEAF, in partnership with Development Finance Corporation (DFC), The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and ABCapital, have announced the close of an investment in Orient Tea, a fast-growing innovative Tunisian food company. The investment was made through SEAF’s Tunisia Resilience Fund and SEAF Covid-19 Global Gender Lens Emergency Loan Finance, an investment vehicle funded by the DFC that focuses on addressing the impact of COVID-19 on SMEs supporting women during the pandemic.
Founded in 2013, Orient Tea is a women-led food company that produces instant natural tea products under the brand Kyufi. Orient Tea operates in Ben Arous, a city in northeastern Tunisia that experienced the early effects of COVID and faced restrictive lockdowns and the closure of key distribution channels. Orient Tea quickly adopted an agile and proactive method to tackle this crisis by pivoting towards retail and B2B networks. To scale, Orient Tea required capital to enhance its digital presence and online brand awareness, as well as improve and extend their warehousing capacity in light of supply chain disruptions.
Through a gender lens approach, SEAF’s investment in Orient Tea was designed to support the Company’s growth and commitment to building an inclusive and sustainable business in the agri-food sector. As a women-led company, 45% of Orient Tea’s full-time employees are women and 80% of contracted farm workers are women, supporting close to 500 indirect and direct jobs. With SEAF’s funding, Orient Tea can increase its production capacity, expand into new export markets, and enhance the Company’s positioning while creating jobs and providing sustainable training to smallholder farmers in its network.
“The Tunisian market has been experiencing a challenging time and we are pleased to partner with the Orient Tea as part of their expansion,” shares Jan Cherim, SEAF Vice Chair for Europe & Africa. “We’re proud of work achieved by our team led by Ingrid Chou who worked successfully with ABCapital and Orient Tea to get this deal completed. We anticipate more investment closings similar to this one in the future.”
“ABCapital is delighted to be supporting SEAF through Orient Tea transaction execution and through the implementation of a new, alternative and competitive financing mechanism – the Tunisian Resilience Fund, that is not only catalyzing additional capital for Tunisian SMEs but supporting their post-COVID resilience plans and unlocking their growth potential,” Shared Hela Jelassi and Anis Borchani, Managing Partners at ABCapital. “We believe that SEAF’s Gender Lens Investing approach is innovative and unique in the Tunisian landscape and it is propelling Tunisian SMEs’ efforts to develop inclusive and impact-driven businesses,” they concluded.
“USAID/Tunisia is committed to increasing the flow of capital to high-potential Tunisian businesses,” says USAID Mission Director Scott Dobberstein. “We are proud to support investment facilities that meet the unique needs of the SME economy and support sustainable development outcomes.” Further, the benefits go beyond direct funding. “Enterprises such as Orient Tea now have access to qualitative tools—such as impact monitoring systems, gender analyses, and access to new markets—to increase their investment readiness and drive inclusive economic growth,” Dobberstein concludes.
“The adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on financial markets continue to disrupt many businesses in developing countries, especially those owned by women,” said Jim Polan, Vice President of DFC’s Office of Development Credit. “DFC is proud to work with SEAF to support innovative transactions like Orient Tea that provide economic relief and positive development impact.”
Meziou Knani & Khlif (Omar Ben Slimane – Mariem Chabchoub) served as the legal advisor to SEAF.
For more information, contact Ingrid Chou at SEAF (email@example.com).
SEAF is a global impact private equity manager achieving meaningful and measurable impact results and positive financial returns by providing entrepreneurs in emerging markets with the capital, knowledge, and networks they need to grow their businesses. SEAF invests in local entrepreneurs with a focus on climate change, food security, and inclusion. Since 1989, SEAF has made more than 430 investments across 41 funds in more than 31 countries.
The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) partners with the private sector to finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world today. We invest across sectors including energy, healthcare, critical infrastructure, and technology. DFC also provides financing for small businesses and women entrepreneurs in order to create jobs in emerging markets. DFC investments adhere to high standards and respect the environment, human rights, and worker rights.
USAID leads international development and humanitarian efforts to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance and help people progress beyond assistance. USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID’s work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience.
Incorporated in 2015, ABCapital is an independent investment banking boutique specializing in raising capital, M&A transactions and facilitating access to finance with a strong track record in fundraising for Tunisian SMEs from local and international private investors. Since 2015, ABCapital has raised more than $ 20 million for Tunisian SMEs and startups operating in various sectors. ABCapital is also advising local and international investment funds operating in the Maghreb Region.
About Orient Tea
Orient Tea is a Tunisian food innovation company that produces natural instant tea. The company, located in Ben Arous, currently produces green tea with 6 different flavors, and is developing new flavors such as green tea with moringa, black tea, black tea with mint, and verbena tea. It markets its products under the brand Kyufi. Orient Tea has been able to conquer several export markets.