A female role-model in the African finance sector

March 8, 2021

Ms. Berhane Demissie is co-founder and Managing Partner of one of Ethiopia’s first private equity funds, Cepheus Growth Capital Fund. Born in Ethiopia, she is one of few African female leaders within the finance sector.

With significant international fund management experience, strong knowledge of the local investment environment and extensive local networks, she aims to provide much-needed growth capital to Ethiopian companies.

My ambitions for Cepheus are to have a successful fund in terms of financial returns and as importantly, to achieve a meaningful social and environmental impact. This includes making our focus on building gender diverse leaders within Cepheus and portfolio companies a success

BERHANE DEMISSIE, Cepheus co-founder and Managing Partner

Cepheus Growth Capital Fund targets export-oriented and import-substituting small- and medium-sized enterprises, mainly within manufacturing, agro-processing and services.

Critically important to have more female leaders in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a low-income country with more than 100 million people. Over the past 15 years Ethiopia has registered impressive double-digit economic growth rates, largely driven by public sector investments.

However, Ethiopia is among the world’s most challenging markets to operate in. The Covid-19 pandemic and the recent internal conflicts have made the markets even more challenging.

Women remain significantly underrepresented in finance and the private sector.

Studies show that where women are part of diverse leadership teams, financial returns increase and that risk management significantly improves, creating sustainable institutions in the long term.

Demissie emphasizes that it is critically important to have women leaders in the industry to bring diversity in perspectives and decision making.

Norfund addresses gender equality

Norfund made its first investment in Cepheus Growth Capital Fund together with the British Development Finance Institution, CDC and the European Investment Bank in 2018.  Norfund’s aim is to promote access to capital and business competence, as well as creating a large number of jobs, for men and for women.

We in Norfund really appreciate Berhane Demissie’s expertise, initiatives and ability to work in really challenging situations. Making profitable and sustainable investments in Ethiopia requires thorough insight and expertise like hers. She is an important role model for women in Ethiopia as well as in other African countries.

Tellef Thorleifsson, CEO Norfund

Norfund is committed to addressing gender equality in our own organization, in our investments, and through Business Support.

Cepheus’ portfolio as of today

Cepheus has so far made two investments in Ethiopia, providing much-needed equity and active ownership resources that will enable the companies to grow and reach their strategic targets. The portfolio consist of a Ceramics manufacturer and an FMCG manufacturer, both in the processes of increasing production capacity by expanding and upgrading its manufacturing lines. Cepheus is an active partner to its investees, providing input on operations, corporate governance and ESG.

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