AFRICA – FinDev Canada, a company that invests in gender-lens fund to bolster women-owned SMEs in Africa, announced an investment of US$7.5m in the Africa Forestry Fund II (AFF II).

Its a growth equity fund focused on acquiring and developing environmentally-friendly forestry value chain assets across Sub-Saharan Africa.

“FinDev Canada is excited to work with a fund that targets a much-needed industry in Africa,” said Suzanne Gaboury, Chief Investment Officer at FinDev Canada.

“Leveraging private capital to find sustainable solutions in Africa’s forestry industry is paramount to its longevity, and to providing reliable employment opportunities to affected communities.”

FinDev Canada’s investment will contribute to significant CO2 sequestration, both through the natural carbon capture from trees and the replacement of fossil fuels with biomass and steam energy.

Once fully invested, the companies supported by the fund could contribute to a reduction of up to 200,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Africa Sustainable Forestry Fund aims to build upon the success of the previous AFF I fund and to improve the reinvigoration of Africa’s forestry sector.

The fund could create as many as 3500 jobs in local areas, with up to 30% of them being exclusively for women.

The Fund Manager, Criterion Africa Partners (CAP), concentrates on three key areas of the forestry value chain; the acquisition, improvement and rehabilitation of plantations, downstream manufacturing, and biomass energy.

They invest in target companies in each of these processes exclusively in Sub-Saharan Africa. All forestry areas are managed to the stringent requirements of the Forest Stewardship Council.

Investing in AFF II will contribute to FinDev Canada’s long-term development impact goals and support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, SDG 8, Decent work and economic growth, SDG 13, Climate action, and SDG 15, Life on land.

Through conscious forestry plantation operations in their target area, as well as increased productivity and better management practices, CAP has driven the rehabilitation and conservation of damaged forests, preventing illegal deforestation and mitigating further forest degradation.

The Fund’s portfolio companies are expected to contribute to maintaining or transitioning up to 50,000 hectares of forest land to sustainable land management.

The Fund requires operations of investee companies to meet the Forest Stewardship Council certification practices, which is the highest standard for sustainability in the forestry sector.

AFF II is making strides in women’s economic empowerment. Through the framework of the Women’s Economic Principles (WEP), CAP will use AFF II to improve access to employment for women in the forestry sector.

Furthermore, leveraging FinDev Canada’s recommended actions for women’s economic empowerment, the Fund seeks to diversify and increase the number of women in senior leadership as well, to ensure a commitment towards women economic empower at both the fund and investee level.