DON'T MISS : Talking Africa Podcast – Mozambique's insurgency: After Palma, what comes next?

South Africa’s Khulisa seeks private-equity investors to lift employment

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Wednesday, 13 October 2021 15:46

South African Rands REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Malcolm Rutherford was bemoaning the state of South Africa’s economy as he drank a beer in early 2020 with Ian Kirk, then CEO of Sanlam.

Kirk asked him what he was planning to do about it. The result was the creation, later in 2020, of private-equity firm Khulisa Investment Partners, which is based in Cape Town and targets investments that can contribute to employment and financial inclusion.

Rutherford, former CFO of Dimension Data, is a co-founder of Khulisa alongside Phumla Mnganga and Chris Lister-James. Most private-equity funds, Rutherford says, want to invest in companies that already have sizable profits. The due diligence needed for investment is at least as great for smaller companies, meaning time is more productively spent on larger candidates. The result, he says, is a “missing middle” of companies, which are too large to qualify for grant funding, but too small to interest institutional investors.