British International Investment

Ascent Rift Valley Fund I

EthiopiaKenyaUgandaAfricaCommunications & IT servicesConsumer - HealthConsumer - other servicesManufacturing

Ascent Rift Valley Fund I is the firm’s maiden fund. The fund aims to provide growth capital to small and medium-sized enterprises in Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya.

This investment was made when British International Investment was named CDC Group.

Our investment

Description of the investment.

In 2015, CDC invested $15 million in the Ascent Rift Valley Fund, alongside other DFIs, including Austria's OeEB and Norway's Norfund, as well as commercial and institutional investors. It closed at a final fund size of $78 million. The fund provides much-needed growth capital for small businesses in these underinvested countries.

Expected impact

Expected impact of investments made between 2012 and 2018. From 2019 onwards, we have published a fuller set of impact information, assessing each investment against six dimensions of impact.

SMEs generate up to 90 per cent of all business activities in East Africa and employ half of the working population, making a significant contribution to the region's economy. However, lack of access to affordable finance and challenging regulatory conditions are a major barrier to trade and innovation. Our investment enables the fund manager to provide finance to support fast-growing and scalable businesses, driving wider business and industrial development, particularly in the agri-processing, healthcare and manufacturing sectors.

Since its launch, the fund has made investments in International Clinical Laboratories (previously Medpharm Holdings), a diagnostic laboratory in Ethiopia; Kisumu Concrete Products in Kenya; and Chims Africa, a mobile money network in Uganda.  Several of Chims’ agencies are sited near agricultural markets to support smallholder trading; NGOs also use the service to distribute funds in refugee camps in the north of the country.

Environmental and social information

  • Environmental and social summary

    A high-level description of the environmental and social aspects of the investment. This may include a summary of key environmental and social risks identified during environmental and social due diligence (ESDD); key elements of an environmental and social action plan (ESAP); or ways in which we plan to support the investee improve environmental and social standards, such as through their environmental and social management system (ESMS); as well as any other priority areas agreed with the investee.

  • Environmental and social risk

    A risk category rating, which indicates the level of environmental and social risk associated with an investment. For an explanation of the categorisations used, see here. We consistently provide an environmental and social risk category for all investments screened from 2023 onwards.

Environmental and social summary

We worked closely with the fund manager to develop and implement an ESMS for this first-time fund.

Reporting and Complaints Mechanism

The Reporting and Complaints Mechanism allows anyone outside BII to report alleged breaches of the business integrity or environmental and social provisions of BII’s Policy on Responsible Investing. This includes breaches made by BII, a BII investee, or a portfolio company of a fund in which BII has invested. The Reporting and Complaints Mechanism Rules are available here. Reports and complaints can be submitted by email to [email protected] or by mail. See more details on our Reporting and Complaints Mechanism here.

For any other general enquiries contact us at [email protected]

  • Key facts

    Last updated

    When the last quarterly update of the website database occurred.

    March 2024
    Project number

    An identifier number shared by investments in the same project.


    The current status of the investment (green flag for active and red flag for exited).


    The geographical region where the country is located. We currently invest in Africa, South Asia, South East Asia and the Caribbean. In 2023, BII’s investment mandate was extended allowing it to invest in regional funds linked to Ukraine, with the majority of activity expected to begin post-war. Investments outside these regions were made prior to 2012 under previous investment mandates.


    We prioritise those sectors that facilitate development and need our capital the most. Our priority sectors contribute towards many of the Sustainable Development Goals. They range from investing in the power infrastructure that will provide people with better access to electricity, to investing in financial institutions that direct capital to the individuals and businesses that need it the most.

    Communications & IT services, Consumer - Health, Consumer - other services, Manufacturing

    We provide capital in the following ways: directly – through direct equity, direct debt, guarantees and other non-intermediated financial instruments; and indirectly – principally through investment funds.

    For direct investments and fund investments, this is the date BII committed capital to the investments. This is typically the date on which legal agreements are signed by all parties.

    For the portfolio companies of our fund investments, this is the date (either the month or the quarter) on which the fund committed capital to the portfolio company.

    For direct equity investments, this is the date at which British International Investment exited the investment.

    For debt investments, this is the date at which the final debt repayment was made.

    For funds, this is the date at which the fund was terminated.

    For underlying fund investments, this is the date at which the fund manager exited the investment.

    The total amount committed, per financial instrument, per investment, on the date BII becomes subject to a binding legal obligation to provide funding or assume a contingent liability. This information is provided in US dollars.

    For direct investments, this is the amount that BII has committed to the business or project. For fund investments, this is the amount BII has committed to the fund.

    The currency in which the investment was made.

    Investment type :
    Start date :
    September 2015
    Amount :
    Currency of investment :
    Fund Manager:
    Ascent Capital Africa Ltd

    The company or investment fund’s place of incorporation.


Investments made by this fund into companies:

For further information about these companies, visit

Investment name Country Region Sector Start date Status
African Queen Uganda Holdings Ltd Uganda East Africa Consumer - other services December 2015 Active
Allcent Global Corporation Ethiopia East Africa Manufacturing March 2017 Active
Auto Springs Mauritius Ltd Kenya East Africa Manufacturing March 2018 Active
Chims Africa Ltd Uganda East Africa Communications & IT services August 2015 Exited
Kisumu Concrete Products Kenya East Africa Manufacturing February 2017 Exited
Medpharm Holdings Africa Ltd Ethiopia East Africa Consumer - Health February 2015 Exited
Metroplast Mu Ltd Kenya East Africa Manufacturing October 2019 Active
Pharmcent Limited (Guardian Healthcare Limited) Uganda East Africa Consumer - Health May 2017 Exited
Unicent Limited (Universal Plastics Factory Plc) Ethiopia East Africa Manufacturing May 2017 Active

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