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    Investing in women-led businesses in Africa

    Support for a private equity fund that finances women-owned firms, enhancing their economic and social impact in Africa

    First signature
    EUR 21,495,980.43
    Regional - Africa
    See more


    € 21,495,980.43
    Regional - Africa : € 21,495,980.43
    Services : € 21,495,980.43
    Signature date(s)
    15/11/2021 : € 21,495,980.43
    Link to source

    Summary sheet

    Release date
    5 December 2019
    Signed | 15/11/2021
    Project name
    Promoter - financial intermediary
    Proposed EIB finance (Approximate amount)
    Total cost (Approximate amount)
    USD 25 million (EUR 20 million)
    USD 100 million (EUR 82 million)

    The proposed operation concerns a participation in the Alitheia Women Fund for Africa, a closed-end private equity fund with a target size of USD 75m.The Fund's strategy is to invest in women owned and/or led SMEs in Sub-Saharan Africa and/or businesses that provide goods and services to women in Africa, with a focus on Ghana, Lesotho, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Fund is generalist in terms of sectors.

    The Fund will focus on SMEs on a growth path with a proactive approach to back women founders and/or senior managers or cater to women as a customer group (through companies, which address issues specific to women in Africa).

    Environmental aspects

    The Fund's operational guidelines provide for environmental and social due diligence of investee companies according to guidelines acceptable to the EIB.

    Not applicable.

    Link to source


    Before financing approval by the Board of Directors, and before loan signature, projects are under appraisal and negotiation. The information and data provided on this page are therefore indicative.
    They are provided for transparency purposes only and cannot be considered to represent official EIB policy (see also the Explanatory notes).


    Environmental and Social Data Sheet (ESDS) - ALITHEIA IDF WOMEN FUND FOR AFRICA
    Publication Date
    5 Apr 2022
    Document language
    Main Topic
    Document Number
    Document Focus
    Environmental Information
    Project Number
    Publicly available
    Download now

    News & Stories

    Inside the project

    How and Why

    Investing in gender-diverse firms and social impact in Africa


    • Solid financial returns and tangible social impact in Africa
    • Supports women-owned businesses and drives gender diversity
    • Traditional investors leave money on the table as investing in women brings superior performance


    • Support investment funds like Alitheia to boost financing and growth of gender-diverse small and medium-sized firms 
    • Facilitate funding from traditional financiers who are challenged to step out of their comfort zone
    • Commit to multilateral initiatives like the 2X Challenge to support projects that empower women and enhance their economic participation


    Supporting women’s entrepreneurship

    The European Investment Bank signed a $24.6 million investment in the Alitheia fund, enabling it to reach its target size of $100 million.

    Alitheia is a 2X Flagship fund committed to investing with a gender lens using the 2X criteria.

    They were pioneers in this segment and really the first team to propose a gender-focused fund in sub-Saharan Africa.
    Déborah Vouche

    Who worked on the EU bank’s investment in Alitheia

    Play video




    Driving gender diversity in Africa

    This is a true by women, for women fund
    Déborah Vouche

    Who worked on the EU bank’s investment in Alitheia

    Chika Russell left her home in Nigeria for the United Kingdom at the age of six. In 2014, after seven years working in finance, she created her own company. CHIKA’S sources unique ingredients from across Africa and works directly with communities in Nigeria to offer healthy, hand-made snacks to British consumers. One of CHIKA’S investors is Alitheia IDF, a gender-lens African investment fund led by two female founding partners, Tokunboh Ishmael and Polo Leteka.

    The growth capital from Alitheia has allowed Chika to set up a manufacturing facility in Nigeria, employing 320 people, 70% of them female. The facility will produce snacks for the Nigerian and West African markets, exporting to neighbouring countries and creating jobs there.

    The European Investment Bank signed its $24.6 million investment in the pioneering fund in November 2021. 

    Tokunboh and Polo possess a true private equity track record and have already been successful in previous initiatives. They have the willingness to make things happen and we saw we could help them structure the fund and apply the highest standards in terms of governance and reporting.
    Matthieu Ducorroy

    Head of Private Equity, European Investment

    Facilitating investment on women-led businesses

    In 2008, when Tokunboh and Polo started Alitheia IDF, which is a joint venture between Alitheia Capital in Nigeria and IDF Capital in South Africa, they were determined to back women-owned businesses, because they knew that there were many women on the continent whose businesses could grow with the right funding.

    As advice to budding women entrepreneurs, Tokunboh says: “Raise your aspirations. It’s not easy to raise funding. Hopefully you will be knocking at our door. If you go knocking elsewhere don’t be put off by a ‘no’. Leverage a ‘no’ to think about what you need to change within your business. Be open and flexible to that. If you recognise that is it just unconscious bias, you really need to come to Alitheia IDF.”

    Listen to our podcast on gender lending:

    The smart money is on women

    We already know that investing in women is good business. Enterprises with women in at least half of leadership positions have higher sales growth, are more profitable and get a better return on their assets. Roughly 80% of consumer buying decisions are made by women, which means that firms with women across their ranks often produce better-selling products. But investing in women doesn’t just make good financial sense. It makes good climate sense:

    Companies that expanded the female representation of their boards over a five-year period were 60% more likely to reduce the intensity of their energy consumption, 39% more likely to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and 46% more likely to lower their water use.


    General enquiries and comments

    The EIB is committed to open communication and encourages constructive stakeholder input regarding its activities.
    Enquiries and comments concerning the EIB’s involvement in a project or the financing facilities, activities, organisation and objectives of the EIB, can be sent to the EIB Infodesk.
    Alternatively, the EIB can be contacted through its external offices.
    Queries regarding details of a specific project, in particular when it is under appraisal by the EIB, should preferably be addressed directly to project promoters.

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    Media-related enquiries can be addressed to the EIB Press Office. Please also visit our Media information section.

    Complaints mechanism

    Any complaint regarding alleged maladministration can be lodged via the EIB Complaints Mechanism. The European Ombudsman acts as an independent external accountability mechanism of the EIB.

    Zero tolerance against fraud and corruption

    The EIB has a zero tolerance policy on fraud or corruption. To report allegations of fraud and corruption relating to EIB-financed projects, please contact the Fraud and Investigation division. All complaints will be treated as strictly confidential and handled in line with the EIB investigation procedures and the Anti-Fraud Policy.

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