YEAR IN REVIEW 2021
Like its namesake, January is a natural time for reflecting on what’s happened, whilst imagining what’s possible.
Despite the prevailing uncertainties and challenges of 2021, I am extremely proud of the work, resilience, and unfaltering commitment of the Phatisa team over the year.
This short letter is a celebration of those achievements. And a recognition of the perseverance of my colleagues and the management teams of our investee companies.
What we achieved
We started the year with the successful final close of Food Fund 2. Capital raising can be challenging at the best of times, but closing a specialist, sub-Saharan-focussed fund in the midst of Covid and ensuing travel restrictions was no mean feat! I wish to thank all our LPs for their patience and for – once again – placing their trust and capital with us.
As is often the case, the new Fund precipitated the perfect timing to restructure our firm for the next investment period. Accordingly, we said goodbye to some colleagues, but also welcomed new talent into the team.
We appointed Wilfrid Korsaga as a partner and continued our commitment to gender equality – appointing three new women across our investment team and specifically welcomed Nooraya Khan to our Investment Committee. Plus, we will be announcing another senior female appointment to our investment team in this quarter.
With our team augmented and our coffers replenished, we also felt the timing was right to revitalise our branding – launching a new logo and website in Q4.
Beyond the excitement of new aesthetics, our rebrand presented an opportunity to reaffirm what we stand for as a firm. Accordingly, we chose to make our long-held belief that financial performance & impact are mutually inclusive the focal point – illustrated by the addition of an Ampersand at the heart of our logo. Just as providing more than capital sits at the heart of our investment approach.
For us, our new logo goes way beyond a marketing asset. It represents our way of working and thinking; a visual pledge to our investors, management teams and communities that we will always seek to drive impact & returns – concurrently.
Beyond these significant corporate milestones, our day-to-day focus remained firmly on investing wisely, whilst actively supporting the management teams and strategies of our portfolio companies.
I’m delighted to say that we completed our investment in Deltamune just before the Christmas break and we hope to imminently announce an additional Food Fund 2 investment.
Across the existing portfolio, we’ve seen impressive resilience to the challenging environment. Rolfes continued to go from strength to strength, demonstrated by strong dividend flow. Goldtree merged with Planting Naturals, meaning that Planting Naturals can now offer organic palm oil products from Goldtree that adhere to RSPO standards – a huge achievement. Kanu has worked extremely hard to continue their growth across Africa, alongside FES which expanded into Zambia and appointed a new CFO/COO to support this growth.
With respect to exits, we are extremely pleased that the sale of CBC has been agreed, plus the realisation process has begun at Goldenlay.
Building on these value accretive activities, our ESG efforts continue to drive positive change and material impact. Beyond our day-to-day ESG management, we also established an E&S committee for Food Fund 2, which was also selected as a ‘2X Challenge investment’ – testimony to our steadfast commitment to advancing women’s economic empowerment. It was therefore enormously rewarding to the team to be independently recognised by Mergers & Acquisitions magazine, which named Phatisa as one of their 2021 PE Innovators in ESG. ESG & Impact are a ‘team sport’, relying on the skills and determination of many players – however, I would like to personally thank Gwendolyn Zorn, for leading our impact initiatives. And keeping with the sports analogy, ESG & Impact are also a marathon (not a sprint). Material results and impact are often years in the making, so awards like this are vital to maintaining momentum and motivation.
As we look towards 2022, we anticipate a busy year, with plenty of COVID-induced, pent-up capital looking for investment. Both buy and sell markets are bubbling, and we are seeing some high-quality opportunities emerging.
Without a doubt, the region has challenges – social, political, and economic. But indications are that we’ve weathered the pandemic better than many other emerging markets. Of course, there are also a number of positive innovations and ways of working that have arisen out of lockdowns and adversity – many of which have proven to improve efficiency and delivery. As a firm, we intend to reap the benefits of these enhanced digital solutions and virtual working practices – so many of which are better for the environment and better for our wellbeing.
The partners and I look forward to seeing what 2022 holds, to more successful stories of growth and positive impact, and to making new investments that support food security and sustainable food production across Africa. We can’t wait to share those stories with you throughout the year.
All my very best for 2022!
Stuart Bradley, Managing Partner