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JM | Jul 2, 2022

VM Investments joins London-based Actus Partners to power regional SMEs

/ Our Today

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Rezworth Burchenson, CEO VM Investments Limited and VM Wealth Management (right) shares a handshake with Murat Taşçı (centre), the founder of Actus Partners and the CEO & President of JASMEF. Sharing in the photo op are (from left-right) Hugh Grant, General Manager, Development Bank of Jamaica; Adrian Nelson (second row left), Legal Counsel Development Bank of Jamaica and Dwight Jackson (second row right), Assistant Vice President, VM Investments Limited. The occasion was the official signing of The Jamaica ACTUS Small & Medium Enterprise Fund 1 (JASMEF 1) at the Development Bank of Jamaica in St Andrew on June 30, 2022. (Photo contributed)

Durrant Pate/ Contributor

The investment arm of the VM Group, VM Investments Limited has partnered with London-based Actus Partners on the successful financial closing of a new Caribbean private equity fund focused on Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Actus was declared the sole winner in 2021 of a Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ)/ World Bank global selection process to identify managers for a private equity fund focused on supporting the development of Jamaican/Caribbean SMEs. This competition was part of the Jamaica-World Bank Access to Finance for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Project.

The fund, named the Jamaica Actus Small & Medium Enterprises Fund I (JASMEF), is supported by DBJ to the tune of US$5.5 million via a partnership between the World Bank and the Jamaican Government.

Some US$500,000 will be used for technical assistance. For its part, VM Investments has committed US$10 million and will raise additional capital via large institutional fund managers for the final close of the fund.

JASMEF is targeting a final fund size of US$100 million. VMIL is participating in the management company for JASMEF, namely VMIL Actus Caribbean PE Limited. VM Investments will also have a representative on the fund’s committee to screen/assess investments in prospective SMEs.

Accessing funding through JASMEF

SMEs that wish to benefit from JASMEF must have been in operation for at least three years with 12 months recurring positive net income and operating cash flow.

However, expansion investment candidates will also be considered – that is, where larger, well-established global companies are expanding into Jamaica & other Caribbean countries by creating local SMEs.

The fund’s objectives are aligned with the long-term vision of the Jamaican Government and the World Bank to encourage private equity investors to address the financing gap that is a significant challenge to local SMEs by increasing the supply of available long-term equity financing.

Investment will primarily be made in sectors that promote strong economic growth and development which includes key sectors such as technology, climate & renewable energy, agriculture & food security, health & hygiene, tourism, logistics, light manufacturing, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and business services.

The fund will also follow DBJ and World Bank ESG requirements as well as the key objective of achieving measurable impact targets and alignment with appropriate United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, such as supporting decent work, economic growth, and gender equity.

Partners commit to working together for SMEs

“VM Investments has a solid reputation for providing active and purposeful support to SMEs. We are very excited to work alongside Actus, the DBJ and the World Bank to facilitate meaningful growth and expansion of the SME sector. We are in the business of transformation and are eager to help transform even more lives and businesses,” commented Rezworth Burchenson, CEO of VMIL.

Rezworth Burchenson, CEO VM Investments Limited and VM Wealth Management photographed speaking at the official signing of The Jamaica ACTUS Small & Medium Enterprise Fund 1 (JASMEF 1) at the Development Bank of Jamaica in St Andrew on June 30, 2022. (Photo contributed)

For his part, founder of Actus Partners and the CEO & President of JASMEF, Murat Taşçı responded that, “We’re honoured to collaborate with the DBJ, VM Investments, and the World Bank to invest growth capital in Jamaican and other Caribbean SMEs. We’re excited about introducing our global networks to local SMEs to help them expand their reach across the wider Caribbean region, the Americas, Europe, MENA and beyond.”

Zhan Li, also of Actus Partners and a VP of JASMEF made the point that, “our team has a strong background in private equity as well as a keen focus on providing ESG, technical assistance, strategic foresight and other expertise to help SMEs not only achieve their growth goals but also enhance their impact on their business ecosystems and wider communities.” 

Sharing in a special photo op from left to right: Dwight Jackson, Assistant Vice President, VM Investments Limited; Rezworth Burchenson, CEO, VM Investments Limited and VM Wealth Management; Murat Taşçı, founder of Actus Partners and the CEO & President of JASMEF; Hugh Grant, General Manager Development Bank of Jamaica; Adrian Nelson, Legal Counsel, Development Bank of Jamaica and Audrey Richards, Project Coordinator, Jamaica Venture Capital Programme during the official signing of The Jamaica ACTUS Small & Medium Enterprise Fund 1 (JASMEF 1) at the Development Bank of Jamaica in St Andrew on June 30, 2022. (Photo contributed)

VM Investments recently acquired a private equity stake in local manufacturers Home Choice Limited and in 2019 acquired a 30 per cent stake in Carilend, a Barbados-based peer-to-peer lending business.

VM Wealth, the management company for VM Investments, also supports SMEs through the provision of commercial loans and arranging/facilitating junior market initial public offerings (IPOs).

The VM Investments team recently spearheaded the Dolla Financial IPO – one of the largest in the history of the Junior Market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange.

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