NBE - October 27, 2022
IFC and the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank (FMO) today partnered to provide funding and advisory support to United Exports Limited to help the company increase sustainable blueberry production in South Africa, create jobs, and boost women’s participation in management roles.
IFC and FMO will loan up to €14 million to United Exports, supporting the fruit logistics company’s strategy to adopt frost resistant blueberry varieties and expand its blueberry orchards to frost free areas, including to the Western Cape region.
About a third of the funding is solely dedicated to climate-smart agriculture practices and will help the company adopt drip irrigation systems and water meters, among other measures.
The support is expected to strengthen United Exports’ agribusiness value chain and create up to 1,340 direct and indirect jobs by 2030. IFC will also help the company develop training opportunities across all skill levels for new employees and provide capacity building to improve women’s participation in management roles.
“Our track record in terms of FDI, foreign earnings, job creation and tackling gender inequality is something we are very proud of, and this has only been possible with the commitment and partnership of IFC and FMO,” said Founder and Executive Chairman of United Exports, Roger Horak.
“FMO is proud to once again support United Exports to increase financial inclusion across South Africa’s agricultural landscape by investing in the country’s emerging blueberry industry,” said FMO Director of Agribusiness, Food and Water, Pieternel Boogaard. “This transaction aligns perfectly with our agri strategy to support sustainable growth with both climate change adaptation and development impact.”
“IFC’s longstanding support for United Exports aligns with our strategy to help promote climate-smart agribusiness, create jobs and enhance women’s participation in management in South Africa,” said IFC Country Manager for South Africa, Adamou Labara. “This project will play a key role in helping to position South Africa as an emerging blueberry production hub.” The agriculture sector accounts for 27 percent of total employment in South Africa but contributes only 2.5 percent to GDP and 1 percent to exports.
This presents an opportunity to significantly enhance the sector’s contribution to economic growth.
While the South African blueberry industry is relatively nascent, it plays a key role in supporting small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) farmers, especially in rural areas.
The investment announced today builds on the €30 million in funding IFC, FMO, and the Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU) provided to United Exports in 2018 to help the company create jobs and boost exports. IFC and FMO also each provided a €1.5 million loan to support the company weather the effects of COVID-19.
IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries.
In fiscal year 2022, IFC committed a record $32.8 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity as economies grapple with the impacts of global compounding crises. FMO is the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank. As a leading impact investor, FMO supports sustainable private sector growth in developing countries and emerging markets by investing in ambitious projects and entrepreneurs. FMO believes that a strong private sector leads to economic and social development and has a 50+ year proven track-record in empowering entrepreneurs to make local economies more inclusive, productive, resilient and sustainable.
FMO focuses on three sectors that have high development impact: Agribusiness, Food & Water, Energy, and Financial Institutions. With a total committed portfolio of EUR ~12 billion spanning over 85 countries, FMO is one of the larger bilateral private sector development banks globally.
‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’