Myanmar-focused private equity firm Anthem Asia has hit the first close of its debut vehicle – Myanmar SME Venture Fund – with $34.5 million in commitments from three institutional investors. The Fund is targeting a total of up to US$50 million of committed capital.
This portal had first reported in February this year that Anthem Asia was raising $40-50 million vehicle, that aims to provide growth and expansion capital to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in that country. That report had also added that the International Finance Corporation (IFC), an arm of the World Bank, was planning to invest up to $15 million in the PE firm’s maiden fund.
The three institutional investors, which have made allotments to the Myanmar SME Venture Fund include IFC, the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF – a Dutch government initiative to improve access to finance for SMEs in developing countries, managed by Triple Jump B.V.), and CDC Group plc (the UK-government development finance institution), the firm said in a statement.
The new vehicle, that will focus on providing growth and expansion capital to, small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in that country will target ticket sizes of up to $3 million.
Anthem Asia said its fund would favour asset-light businesses serving primarily domestic demand in such sectors as agri-business, business & financial services, education & training, food & beverage, healthcare, logistics, and marketing communications.
This will be a 10-year closed-end fund, and Anthem Asia also becomes the first Myanmar-dedicated private equity firm to get investment from IFC.
“We are delighted to achieve this milestone with IFC, DGGF and CDC. Myanmar offers many exciting opportunities and, in spite of the often difficult operating environment, has huge long-term potential as it re-engages with the Asian and global economy,” Josephine Price, co-founder and managing director of Anthem Asia.
“Myanmar businesses struggle to grow as they lack access to funding—the capital market is in its infancy and bank finance is hard to come by. Our fund will provide outstanding entrepreneurs who share our vision on what makes for a sustainable business with the means to successfully scale up,” she added.
Anthem Asia is a women-led firm, managed by veteran private equity investors Josephine Price and Genevieve Heng. They had launched the firm in 2013 as an investment and advisory group to build sustainable businesses.
Myanmar businesses in which Anthem Asia holds a stake include F&B group Rangoon Tea House, an award-winning restaurant pride for its traditional culinary receipts, Thalun International School, which offers affordable US-style education, MOVE, a fitness chain in Yangon, Revo Digital, a digital agency and premier serviced office space provider, Hintha Business Centres.
“The Myanmar investment story is a digitally-driven, mobile-savvy version of the Asian investment story of the past three decades: the rise of the consumer; urbanisation; the rise of a middle class; the development of strong local brands. We see opportunities flowing from each of these,” said Price.
Previously focused on early-stage businesses’ with follow-on investments, the private equity firm will enhance its offerings to and look at financing ventures that require growth and expansion capital, most of who are family-operated firms.
“Women-owned and women-managed businesses will be of particular interest,” said Price.
Other Myanmar-focussed PE funds include Delta Capital that had closed its second fund at $70 million, making it the largest country-focussed vehicle, even as the firm fell short of its target of raising $100 million, and Golden Rock Capital that has been raising its $100 million fund since 2016.