Business Partners Limited, a leading risk financier for local small and medium enterprise (SMEs), has taken the first step to permanently expand its investment model across Africa by starting operations in Uganda, which over the last 35 years, has proven to be an effective method in strengthening the SME sector in South Africa.

On 12 April 2016, the company launched Business Partners International (BPI) Uganda, a specialist risk finance company that provides customised financial solutions, sectoral knowledge, mentorship, and other added-value services for formal small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across Africa, and opened an office in Kampala, Uganda.

According to Mark Paper, the chief operating officer at BPI, BPI Uganda forms part of the establishment of the larger Business Partners International East Africa (BPI EA) company which will provide SME focused investments ranging from US $50,000 to $1 million.

He explains that Business Partners International East Africa (BPI EA) was established last year as a US$30 million investment company, and its shareholders comprises of Business Partners Limited – which is leading the consortium, the IFC (International Finance Corporation, the World Bank Group private lending arm), Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets (SIFEM), Dutch impact investor Stichting DOEN and the Dutch Development Agency (FMO), the Canada-based Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) and Norfund, the Norwegian development agency.

Uganda was a clear choice for investment for the first phase of the company’s expansion plan across Africa, Paper said.

“The country has experienced an upsurge in middle class and the level at which new business enterprises are being opened and established is increasing. Entrepreneurship is thriving in Uganda and currently contributes approximately 90 per cent to the country’s GDP,” he said.

“We also recognised Uganda as a growth centre for Africa due to the country’s growing economy over the past five-year period, and the fact that the East African region continues to prosper, with a forecasted GDP growth of 5.5 per cent expected in 2016.”

BPI Uganda will look to provide access to funding, post-investment technical assistance support and mentorship for entrepreneurs and SMEs.