Bwamanga seeks $5m for socially aware agri projects

The African agriculture asset management firm is currently fundraising for integrated farming projects in Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria, looking to invest into soybean and other farms.

Bwamanga Sustainable Investment Advisors, an African agriculture asset management firm, is currently fundraising for integrated farming projects in Africa.

The company, which has already run a pilot farm in Nigeria and done significant advisory work in the field of agriculture, is looking to raise $5 million, according to Daniel Mouen Makoua, founder and chief executive of Bwamanga. It intends to invest on a project-by-project basis into grain and legume  — soybean and black-eyed bean — farms located in Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria.

He estimates the projects will return between 20 percent and 30 percent each year.

Bwamanga is currently in talks with an insurance company and some family offices located in Africa about investing with them. It will also reach out to development finance institutions in Africa and overseas, and believes its approach will appeal to investors looking for impact or socially responsible investments.

Bwamanga takes an ‘inclusive’ approach to agriculture, whereby the projects will involve the local community either through employment or the Small Farmers Programme — a support network for neighbouring farmers that will include training and participation in the commercial sale of goods.

Inclusiveness is essential in any project in Africa to ensure that the local community is comfortable and cooperative with the business, said James Tyner, head of strategy and planning at Bwamanga, who had a similar experience when working on a gaming reserve in South Africa.

“We believe that large-scale agriculture cannot be sustained in West Africa if the communities who live in the immediate vicinities of the farms are excluded. Social tension would result from such an approach,” he told Agri Investor.

The projects will invest into the farmland, but also further up the value chain into storage, transportation and the distribution or trading of its produce. “We see processing as a natural evolution of the business but not core to our strategy,” said Mouen Makoua.

The focus will be cereals, legumes and vegetable, although we will grow cotton and sesame as “complementary crops, which are a good substitute to our basic crops and bring good portfolio diversification,” according to Mouen Makoua.

The firm will pursue conventional farming practices in the first instance to reach scale but is interested in pursuing alternative methods of farming in the future. It will do so by hiring professional farmers with a strong track record to run the ‘for-profit’ side of the model.