Anthem Asia closes US$34.5M fund

Anthem Asia on August 30 announced the first close of its debut fund, Anthem Asia Myanmar SME Venture Fund, with US$34.5 million in commitments from three institutional investors. The fund will focus on providing growth and expansion capital to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in Myanmar.

The fund, which is targeting a total of up to US$50 million of committed capital, is backed by the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group; the Dutch Good Growth Fund, a Dutch government initiative to improve access to finance for SMEs in developing countries.

Anthem Asia Myanmar SME Venture Fund aims to provide equity capital to SMEs with the potential to become successful and sustainable market leaders in their sectors. The fund will target domestic-focused, asset-light businesses in agriculture, finance, education, food and beverage (F&B), healthcare, logistics and marketing communications, it said in its announcement.

Anthem Asia Myanmar SME Venture Fund will will look for investment opportunities of up to $3 million per transaction. The focus will include businesses that require growth and expansion capital, often family-operated firms. Women-owned and women-managed businesses will be of particular interest.

In fact, the Anthem Asia Myanmar SME Venture Fund is one of the few Asian funds led by women. Ms Josephine Price and Ms Genevieve Heng, both veteran private equity investors in Asian emerging markets, created Anthem Asia in 2013 as an independent, Myanmar-focused investment and advisory group to build sustainable businesses.

To date, the company’s portfolio of SMEs includes F&B group Rangoon Tea House, Thalun International School, which offers affordable US-style education and Hintha Business Centres, which provides flexible office facilities, managed spaces and dedicated facilities to support businesses.

“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,” said Ms Price in a statement.

“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 fundwill provide outstanding entrepreneurs who share our vision on what makes for a sustainable business with the means to successfully scale up,” she added.

Ms Heng added that Myanmar businesses require more than funding to modernise and succeed in more competitive markets.

“We are active investors providing guidance as well as capital. We leverage on our experience of more than five years of investing in Myanmar, and from successfully investing in the past in Vietnam, India, China and emerging Asian markets.

In Myanmar that means being hands-on, working with entrepreneurs to address a host of operational challenges and bottlenecks that come when a new market emerges and leveraging our networks to achieve solutions,” she said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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