This month, Norfund has opened a new office in Accra, Ghana and is ready to start investing. “Initially, we will focus on investments in Ghana. After some years we will probably expand to other English speaking countries in the region“, says Norfund Executive Vice President Finn Ivar Marum.
The Norfund office in Accra will be headed by Naana Winful Fynn. Ms Fynn joined Norfund 1st of May this year. Prior to joining Norfund, she was a Director at Sagevest Holdings, an investment holding company based in Accra, Ghana. Naana has a BA from Vassar College and an MBA from Harvard Business School, both in the US. She has p reviously worked in investment management in Nigeria, as well as in investment banking, marketing and strategy in retail and industry in the US.
“I am excited to partner with my colleagues at Norfund as well as stakeholders in West Africa to contribute to development through our investment in businesses in the region. I believe we, as Norfund, bring a compelling perspective to our partnership with the owners and managers of businesses in the region.” says Ms Naana Winful Fynn.
Geographical concentration is a key aspect in Norfund’s strategy. Till now, its priority regions have been East Africa, Southern Africa, Central America and selected countries in South-East Asia. However, the size of the fund, increased cooperation with commercial partners and input from various stakeholders indicated a need for some adjustments to the geographical area covered. “In addition to heading to West Africa, we have started including Ethiopia and Somalia in the regional initiative in East Africa” says Mr Marum. “Over a 10-year horizon, we will aim to include the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa in Norfund's geographical area”.
Graduating from aid to trade
Norfund’s board of directors and Management team visited Ghana last January. “Ghana is graduating from aid to business and trade”, said Norway’s Ambassador to Ghana, Ms Hege Hertzberg, while welcoming the Norfund team. She pointed out that the government cannot create the jobs on its own, but can facilitate the creation of new businesses. She said, “Norway wants to support the Ghanaian government’s efforts to create new jobs, and the best tool we have is Norfund.”
The new government in Ghana is facing several challenges. Among them is the need to solve some of the obstacles to building businesses in Ghana, including corruption, land issues and the difficulties businesses face in accessing capital. The government also needs to rethink the role of the state in commercial activities. “Monopolies, subsidies and quotas are the policies of the past,” said Ms Hertzberg.
An active, strategic minority investor
Norfund aims to become an active, strategic minority investor in West Africa. Its main focus will be on the food and agribusiness sector, however, investments in clean energy, financial institution and SME-funds might also be relevant. “Contributing to development through additional and sustainable investments is at the core of what we do,” says Mr Marum.