Exclusive: Anthem Asia to raise $40-50m for SME fund, IFC mulling up to $15m funding

Old Bagan, Myanmar. Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

Private equity firm Anthem Asia is raising $40-50 million for its Myanmar SME Venture Fund, according to an investment disclosure by International Finance Corporation (IFC). The World Bank arm disclosed it is considering investing up to $15 million in the fund.

The proposed funding by IFC includes up to $7.5 million in equity investment and a co-investment of up to $7.5 million by the IDA18 IFC-MIGA Private Sector Window (PSW).

IFC-MIGA PSW supports private sector investments in IDA-only countries, with a focus on fragile and conflict-affected states. The proposed co-investment will be made by the Blended Finance Facility of the PSW that supports IFC investments across sectors with high development impact, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs), agribusiness, health, education, affordable housing, infrastructure, climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Investments by the Anthem Asia Myanmar SME Venture Fund will support the national and regional expansion of local businesses, job creation and economic growth by providing SMEs access to risk capital, IFC said in its disclosure. The 10-year closed-end PE fund will also aid the operational, financial, environment and social improvement of local businesses through knowledge transfer.

Following the investment, IFC will sit on the board of the Anthem fund’s advisory committee and provide guidance on fund management and governance best practices. “Through co-investments, IFC can further provide funding to the Fund’s portfolio or pipeline companies when these companies require additional capital,” the World Bank arm said in its disclosure.

Founded by Josephine Price, Genevieve Heng and Peter Witton, Anthem Asia is one of the few active PE investors in Myanmar. It primarily invests in SMEs and domestic brands in the sectors of consumer goods and services, business services, tourism and leisure, food and beverage, and agri-business. Its investments can be in the form of equity or debt or a combination of the two.

Anthem Asia’s portfolio includes at least nine SMEs. Its last publicly disclosed investment was in late 2016 in Rangoon Tea House, an award-winning restaurant known for its traditional recipes. Other companies in its portfolio are Thalun International School, fitness chain MOVE, digital marketing agency Revo Digital and premier service office space provider Hintha Business Centres.

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