ASFFII is a private equity fund that invests in companies active in the sustainable forestry value chain. Managed by Criterion Africa Partners, the 10-year, USD150 million fund’s investors include the AfDB, BIO (Belgium), EIB, FinDev (Canada), and FMO (Netherlands). Investees must meet Forest Stewardship Council guidelines, and most investments include acreage set aside for conservation. This fund is an example of an instrument with mitigation and adaptation co-benefits. While significant focus is on reforestation and sustainable tree harvesting, the fund’s approach to conservation set asides and afforestation provides significant adaptation benefits.
Stage of Implementation
To-date Criterion has made investments in eight sustainable timber companies in eSwatini, Gabon, South/Southern Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.
- Private equity investors: Calvert Impact Capital, a US-based impact investment firm, is a limited partner in the Fund, bringing private capital into the sustainable forestry space in Africa.
- DFIs: Five the funds six limited partners are all DFIs (see list above). The instrument is a blended equity instrument. Five of six limited partners are DFIs, implying a certain level of concessionality. Assuming all LPs invest in equal proportions, the capital stack would look as follows:
- Commercial (senior): Calvert Impact Partners
- Concessional (subordinate):
- Sustainable forestry companies: The portfolio investments of the fund are concentrated in plantation rehabilitation and expansion, sustainable downstream manufacturing, and biomass.
- Currency stability and repatriation: The Fund makes investments in USD, so a relatively stable currency environment is needed to avoid significant foreign exchange losses or hedging costs that would erode investor return. In addition, the ability to move capital in and out of the country without significant penalty or delay is needed.
- Country commitment to sustainable forestry practices: For its investments to be successful, the Fund must look to countries where there is both a sizeable timber industry, but also where sustainable forestry practices are promoted and supported by the national government such that its portfolio companies are not competing against companies that do not follow FSC guidelines.
The Fund is currently invested in eSwatini, Gabon, South/Southern Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. Other countries that could meet the investment criteria above include Botswana, Kenya, and Rwanda.