Scalable Enterprises

Growing sustainable scalable enterprises drives industrialisation, economic growth and job creation. 

Results in 2021

1,408
MNOK

Committed through direct investments and funds

6,700
new jobs

Created in direct investments and investee companies within funds portfolio

682
MNOK

Increase in revenue (32% increase)

Jobs are vital to reducing poverty. Jobs generate income, are a basis for taxation, provide security, and can enable knowledge and skills development. In most countries, private enterprises create the vast majority of jobs. This is especially true in developing countries, where more than 90% of jobs are in the private sector.  
 
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious negative impact on businesses in developing countries and on global working hours and income levels, further increasing already high unemployment rates in many of Norfund’s markets. Avoiding further job losses and creating a substantial number of new jobs in developing countries is therefore more important now than ever. 
 
The agribusiness sector is labour intensive and employs a large portion of the Sub-Saharan African population. The sector, however, remains largely underdeveloped in terms of productivity and participation in the most value-adding activities in global value chains. Investing in businesses throughout the agribusiness value chain can thus enable more job creation, increased competitiveness, import substitution and economic growth.  
 
Manufacturing similarly holds great potential as an enabler of economic growth and transformation in Africa. Few countries have developed their economies without developing a strong manufacturing base. 
 
In Africa, more than 80% of the jobs are within the informal sector. This means that the workers are unregistered, have no insurance or sick leave schemes and have limited access to training. As such, it is crucial to develop formal job opportunities and ensure that these are quality jobs where workers’ rights are protected.  
 
Norfund’s investments in scalable, sustainable businesses help to create jobs, generate government revenue and provide the goods and services that people need. 

Lack of finance is a significant obstacle to business growth. The volume of foreign direct investment in developing regions is low. Additionally, the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in considerable capital outflow from emerging markets.

Growth capital, sector expertise and investors who are willing to take risks are needed to unlock the potential of scalable enterprises in developing countries. 


Norfund invests in businesses both directly and through funds. Our direct investments are focused on scalable enterprises within agribusiness and manufacturing in Sub-Saharan Africa. These investments are always made in collaboration with strong industrial or financial partners. 
As a direct equity investor, Norfund acts as a responsible owner. We assist developing businesses in becoming robust and sustainable while supporting their growth strategies. Norfund also provides advice to identify and mitigate environmental and social risks. 
 
Fund investments enable us to reach a broader range of businesses and sectors together with fund managers with local knowledge and business insight than what we have capacity to do on our own. Investments are funnelled through 4 different strategic areas called (1) large-cap funds, (2) SME-funds, (3) venture funds and (4) purpose funds. The large cap funds create jobs and growth through established and well-run companies with a potential to further scale and expand its business activities. SME funds access smaller businesses that traditionally don’t have sufficient access to the capital markets. Venture funds support the establishment of new businesses, most often with a technological approach to their markets which enable them to create new and innovative business models. Lastly, purpose funds target fragile states and areas in developing countries where private capital is most scarce, and where our investments are highly additional.  

Strategic ambitions

Norfund’s impact objective for this business area is to foster growth in portfolio companies, both in the form of increased employment and increased revenues.

Norfund has defined the following ambitions for the strategy period 2019-2022:

  • Create 50,000 jobs through direct investments and funds, whereof 3,000 jobs created in direct investments
  • 2 billion NOK revenue increase in direct investments

Accumulated achievements 2019 – 2021

Investments and Results in 2021

Scalable enterprises account for 28% of Norfund portfolio. By the end of 2021, the portfolio included 28 direct investments and 62 fund investments.

1,408
MNOK

Committed in 2021

7,754
MNOK

Committed in total SE portfolio

Impact 2021

6,700 jobs created 

In 2021, the number of jobs in Scalable Enterprises’ direct investments increased by 2,400. When including the investee companies within our funds portfolio, the total number of new jobs created was 6700.  

The total number of direct jobs in the Scalable Enterprises portfolio (incl. funds) was over 200,000. 

32% revenue increase

In 2021, revenues in Scalable Enterprise’s direct investments increased by 682 million NOK (32%). This is a substantial improvement from 2020, when revenues decreased by 18%, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Investments per region

Sub-Saharan Africa is the priority region of direct investments in agribusiness and manufacturing. Norfund's staff in South Africa, Kenya and Ghana played key roles in identifying and monitoring our direct investments. 

Investments in 2021

Total Scalable Enterprise portfolio

Highlights of 2021

6

New investee companies

8

New fund investments

4

Follow-on investments

Marginpar

Norfund initially invested in Marginpar in 2018. The company is a successful import agent and flower producer operating in East Africa, and Norfund invested after seeing the close alignment of our geographic and sectoral priorities with the company which covers the value chain from breeding of flowers to distribution. There were risks, but Norfund saw long-term growth opportunities and from the start was an active owner. 

In 2020 though the pandemic hit, and Marginpar lost all business overnight. The Amsterdam flower market collapsed and air freight out of Africa was simultaneously affected, so flowers could neither be sold nor exported. 

With 3,000 employees and no one to buy its flowers, Marginpar was in a crisis. The management of Marginpar and Norfund as investor faced an exceptionally difficult situation. Instead of implementing layoffs, all employees voluntarily took a 50% pay cut and Norfund stepped in with an emergency loan to keep people employed and the company going. Six months later, the flower demand picked up and people came back to work with 100% pay and compensation for the 50% pay reduction that they had contributed with. 

Since then, Marginpar has recuperated and delivered record figures for the year ending June 2021. Stories like Agnes (see video below) illustrate the value of long-term relationships and active ownership with our investees, even during challenging events like the pandemic. 

Phatisa Food Fund 2 

In the beginning of 2021 Norfund, together with CDC Group (now BII), Finnfund, FinDev Canada and BIO, announced an 82 million USD joint commitment to Phatisa Food Fund 2, managed by Phatisa. PFF 2 will invest across the African food value chain, considering investments in mechanisation, inputs, poultry and meat production, food processing and manufacturing, logistics, aggregation and distribution across Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Norfund committed 20 million USD to the investment that aims to strengthen and increase food supply, local production and distribution across the region. 

The fund, via its investment in companies in the food value chain, targets over 90,000 small-holder farmers and micro-entrepreneurs and aims to create over 2,000 permanent jobs and sustain another 10,000 jobs. The investment follows the success of Phatisa’s African Agriculture Fund (AAF), which has created more than 1,800 jobs and benefitted 86,000 farmers operating in over 20 markets across the continent. 

Building on AAF, Phatisa Food Fund 2 will enable small-holder farmers and micro-entrepreneurs to develop their skills, broadening access to markets and economic opportunities. The new fund will also address access to, and affordability of products among farmers and promote smart agricultural methods – enhancing crop resilience, reducing food loss and waste by 50% in the companies it finances, while increasing outputs, yields and incomes. 

Scalable Enterprises direct investments portfolio

InvestmentCountryInvestment yearSectorInstrumentOwner shareDomicileCommitted (MNOK)
Phatisa Food Fund 2Africa2021Agriculture forestry and fishingFunds0%Mauritius172.8
SPECIAL ICE COMPANY LIMITEDGhana2021Manufacture of beveragesLoans0%Ghana61.7
Seba FoodsZambia2021Manufacture of beveragesLoans0%Zambia44.1
Kagera Sugar LimitedTanzania2020Crop and animal productionLoans0%Tanzania132.2
FESMalawi2020Agriculture forestry and fishingLoans Equity23%Mauritius117.4
Lilongwe Dairy (2001) LimitedMalawi2020Crop and animal productionLoans0%Malawi86.4
Sundry FoodsNigeria2019Manufacture of food productsEquity13%Nigeria65.1
Marginpar GroupAfrica2018Crop and animal productionEquity18%Mauritius93.3
NeofreshAfrica2017Crop and animal productionLoans Equity34%Mauritius78.9
Nyama World Malawi LtdMalawi2017Crop and animal productionLoans0%Malawi29.1
African Century NampulaMozambique2017Real estate activitiesEquity32%Mozambique4.9
Associated Foods Zimbabwe (AFZ)Zimbabwe2016Manufacture of food productsLoans0%Zimbabwe17.6
Freight in TimeAfrica2015Transportation and storageLoans Equity24%Mauritius70.3
African Century Real Estates Ltd.Mozambique2015Construction of buildingsEquity21%Mauritius32.9
African Century Infrastructure Services Ltd.Africa2014Other service activitiesLoans Equity17%Mauritius81.6
Vertical Agro (Sunripe & Serengeti Fresh)Africa2014Crop and animal productionLoans0%Mauritius53.6
Lake Harvest GroupAfrica2013Fishing and aquacultureLoans Equity33%Mauritius140.2
ASILIA (African Spirit Group Limited)Africa2013TourismLoans Equity32%Mauritius132.8
UAP Properties LimitedSouth Sudan2013Real estate activitiesLoans0%South Sudan8.8
AgrivisionZambia2012Agriculture forestry and fishingEquity24%Mauritius161.6
Across Forest ASNicaragua2012Forestry and loggingLoans0%Norway1.3
TPS Dar es SalaamTanzania2011TourismLoans29%Kenya5.3
Basecamp ExplorerKenya2010TourismEquity39%Kenya36.4
Green Resources USDAfrica2009Forestry and loggingEquity51%Norway560.8
Africado Ltd.Tanzania2009Agriculture forestry and fishingEquity33%Mauritius7.1
European Financing Partners SAGlobal2006Investment fundsLoans Equity6%None525.9
Afrinord Hotel InvestmentsAfrica2005TourismLoans Equity20%Denmark25.4

Click here for total portfolio - scalable enterprise direct investments


Scalable Enterprises funds portfolio

InvestmentCountryInvestment yearSectorInstrumentOwner shareDomicileCommitted (MNOK)
Helios IVAfrica2021Investment fundsFunds0%Guernsey220.5
Vantage Mezzanine Fund IV - USDAfrica2021Investment fundsFunds0%South Africa211.7
Meridiam Africa Fund IIAfrica2021Investment fundsFunds0%France199.8
Vietnam Investments Fund IVVietnam2021Investment fundsFunds0%Cayman Islands132.3
African Rivers Fund IIIAfrica2021Investment fundsFunds0%Mauritius132.2
AFMF: ASEAN Frontier Markets FundAsia & Pacific2021Investment fundsFunds0%88.2
Vantage Mezzanine Fund IV - ZARAfrica2021Investment fundsFunds0%South Africa49.8
ACI Motors LtdBangladesh2021Manufacture of motor vehicles trailers and semi-trailersEquity5%Netherlands41.0
AfricInvest Fund IVAfrica2020Investment fundsFunds10%Mauritius262.6
Navis CLMVAsia & Pacific2020Investment fundsFunds17%Cayman Islands216.8
CASEIF IVAmerica2020Investment fundsFunds26%Canada176.3
Excelsior VietnamVietnam2020Investment fundsFunds19%Singapore131.7
Openspace Ventures IIIAsia & Pacific2020Investment fundsFunds8%Cayman Islands131.6
Ascent Rift Valley Fund IIAfrica2020Investment fundsFunds12%Mauritius87.9
Novastar Ventures Africa Fund IIAfrica2020Investment fundsFunds7%Mauritius71.1
Solon Capital HoldingsAfrica2020Investment fundsFunds30%Mauritius35.0
Antler East Africa Fund IAfrica2020Investment fundsFunds20%Cayman Islands13.2
Development Partners International IIIAfrica2019Investment fundsFunds4%Guernsey355.4
Verod Capital Growth Fund IIIAfrica2019Investment fundsFunds10%Mauritius178.0
Frontiir Co. Ltd.Myanmar2019Information service activitiesEquity2%British Virgin Islands26.9
ECP Africa Fund IVAfrica2018Investment fundsFunds8%Mauritius242.3
Cepheus Growth Capital FundEthiopia2018Investment fundsFunds18%Mauritius135.3
Myanmar Opportunities Fund IIMyanmar2018Investment fundsFunds14%Cayman Islands72.8
EcoEnterprises Partners III LPAmerica2018Investment fundsFunds5%Ireland54.5
Nordic Horn of Africa Opportunities FundSomalia2018Investment fundsFunds11%Canada34.3
Agri-Vie IIAfrica2017Investment fundsFunds11%Mauritius130.4
Fanisi Capital Fund IIAfrica2017Investment fundsFunds35%Mauritius109.0
Spear Africa Holding IIAfrica2017ManufacturingFunds21%Mauritius66.7
Oasis Africa FundAfrica2017Investment fundsFunds10%Ghana42.7
Fanisi Management IIAfrica2017Investment fundsLoans Equity25%Mauritius22.1
FIPA IIAfrica2016Investment fundsFunds38%Luxembourg156.7
Frontier Fund IIBangladesh2016Investment fundsFunds10%Cayman Islands29.4
GroFin SGB Fund Limited PartnershipAfrica2015Investment fundsFunds19%Mauritius125.6
Cambodia Laos Myanmar Development Fund IIAsia & Pacific2015Investment fundsFunds16%Singapore93.3
BPI East Africa LLCAfrica2015Investment fundsFunds17%Mauritius51.1
CASEIF IIIAmerica2014Investment fundsFunds24%Canada80.9
Ascent Rift Valley Fund LtdAfrica2013Investment fundsFunds13%Mauritius84.4
Novastar Ventures East Africa FundAfrica2013Investment fundsFunds13%Mauritius83.1
CORECOAmerica2012Other financial servicesFunds22%Delaware75.0
Kinyeti Capital LtdSouth Sudan2012Other financial servicesLoans Equity50%South Sudan35.4
Africa Health Fund (Aureos)Africa2011Investment fundsFunds9%South Africa44.5
Voxtra East Africa Agribusiness IniAfrica2011Agriculture forestry and fishingFunds30%Norway31.7
Vantage Mezzanine Fund IIAfrica2011Investment fundsFunds5%South Africa23.1
Frontier FundBangladesh2010Investment fundsFunds11%Cayman Islands49.5
Neoma South-East Asia Fund IIRegional2010Investment fundsFunds2%Canada27.2
Agri-VieAfrica2010Agriculture forestry and fishingFunds9%South Africa22.7

Click here for total funds portfolio