…As the foremost African equity firm launches a $20m co-investment vehicle targeted mainly at women
Today, in the business world, the name Aruwa Capital now resonates like a soothing whirr of fresh breeze; many would compare it to the fresh verdure of the field that leads the dancing Naiads through the dewy meads.
Though experts have predicted that it would take decades to close the economic gender gap globally, Aruwa Capital Management, a principal investment company that provides growth capital to the untapped SME sector in Nigeria and across West Africa, has taken the road less travelled by launching a $20m West Africa-focused private equity co-investment vehicle essentially focused on closing the gender gap.
Concurrently, the company, led by the enterprising and brilliant corporate amazon, Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, has completed its first investment in Wemy Industries Limited, Nigeria’s first and only indigenous personal hygiene company with the aim to accelerate positive social and economic benefits for women.
Adesuwa is unusual. She exudes the savvy of the ancients, the type of spunk that spurred medieval Amazons to dare and surpass exploits that were the exclusive preserve of men. She projects that shrewd, indefatigable spirit that shepherds the greatest of men to most enviable heights.
However, Aruwa provides patient growth capital to companies in the lower middle market in West Africa while applying gender lens investing principles to its investment approach, which helps to create positive social and economic benefits for women. As part of the investment in Wemy, the business will be implementing an action plan to improve its representation of women in its workforce, including at the most senior levels.
With almost 200 employees and six production lines in its factory in Lagos State, Wemy, founded in 1978, manufactures high-quality and affordable daily, disposable, personal hygiene products predominantly for women and infants, including sanitary pads, maternity pads and baby diapers.
Okunbo Rhodes, Founding Partner of Aruwa Capital Management said, “We are very excited to be making this investment in Wemy Industries, a true pioneer in its industry and a local success story. Our investment will help them deliver the next stage of their growth trajectory.” She continued, “With the rapidly growing population across West Africa and increased usage levels across its product segments due to urbanisation, the company is uniquely placed to take advantage of the strong demand over the short, medium and long term.
“Following the re-introduction of Wemy’s Dr Browns baby diaper range earlier this year, revenue for this financial year is 200% higher than last. This investment is aligned entirely with our objective of promoting locally owned and driven industrialisations, investing in indigenous manufacturing champions in import-dominated industries, helping create jobs, generate taxes, export revenues and fuelling economic growth.”
Okunbo Rhodes added, “In addition, in line with Aruwa’s gender lens investing strategy, 80% of the company’s products have a positive effect on women, from improved hygiene for menstruating teenage girls in rural areas in Northern Nigeria and improved maternal health across the country. This investment ticks a lot of the boxes for us and we look forward to working with the management team for the exciting journey ahead.”
According to Paul Odunaiya, Managing Director and CEO of Wemy Industries, “I am very excited to be working with the Aruwa team. We have been working with their team in one way or the other for the last three years and their dedication and vision entirely align with the values we also have in our company. From our experience with Aruwa over that time, they have already shown us the significant value they can bring through their deep relationships locally and their operational expertise.”
He continued, “Our long-term focus is to be the leading manufacturer of personal hygiene products across West Africa. The completion of this funding process is the first of the many steps in the achievement of our objectives. The investment will enable us to increase our capacity significantly across all of our production lines and grow in both our domestic and export markets. The best is yet to come for Wemy and we are very happy to have Aruwa as our partners in that journey.”