'Enhancing Kenya’s private equity and venture capital ecosystem' with Ashitiva Advocates

Africa Legal Podcast

23-08-2023 • 32 mins

In this podcast, guests from Ashitiva Advocates LLP, Pinsent Masons and the Nairobi International Financial Centre chat to Africa Legal’s Tom Pearson about the three-way collaboration to woo investors to Kenya – the “Silicon Savannah”. There’s a lot of discussion at the moment around enhancing Kenya’s private investment ecosystem, and the private equity and venture capital roundtable that’s being held on 12 September at the Nairobi Serena Hotel will help advance the conversation. The event is being organised jointly by premier African law firm Ashitiva Advocates LLP which has three commercial centres in Kenya, Pinsent Masons, a purpose led multinational law firm with 26 offices on four continents, and the Nairobi International Financial Centre, a dedicated government agency that creates an efficient and predictable operating environment. In the discussion with Tom, Nelson Ashitiva, Senior Partner at Ashitiva Advocates LLP and an expert in mergers & acquisitions, capital markets and corporate/commercial transactions, says the roundtable is about creating a bridge between investors and opportunities in East Africa. “Africa is ripe with a plethora of investment opportunities, so we are seeking to find out the impediments to the free flow of capital to Africa for purposes of investment. Once we understand those impediments, we will find a way to bridge them through a collaborative effort with all the stakeholders.” Jeddida Ndungu, Acting Director of the Financial Sector Development for the Nairobi International Financial Centre (NIFC) Authority, says their mission is to enhance Nairobi's position as the preferred hub for financial services and innovation. “We are able to leverage our role as a government agency that has been given the powers to provide incentives and also to work with other government agencies to ensure that we provide the best operating environment in the region,” Ndungu explained. She adds that the roundtable will be a good platform for the various stakeholders to be heard and provide solutions that they think the Kenyan government needs to explore and consider to enhance the ecosystem. Oliver Crowley, a partner at Pinsent Masons, specialises in the structuring and establishment of private investment funds across a range of asset classes and multiple jurisdictions. In the podcast, he shares his insights on lessons that could be learned from other regions. “The regime should be as frictionless as possible whilst protecting investors and providing good service providers, and all of that will provide the necessary checks and balances that investors expect to see when they're deploying capital,” he noted. Crowley says while the barriers vary in jurisdictions, the overarching one in particular is uncertainty. Some jurisdictions deal with this better than others, he says. Lisa Botha, a partner at Pinsent Masons who has a track record of advising on high profile transactions and assisting clients across Africa, points out that Mauritius has had substantial success in establishing itself as a financial centre for investment in Africa. “Kenya could provide a fantastic market for East Africa and for investments from Kenya upward bound further than East Africa,” she commented. Ultimately, the roundtable is a great opportunity to collaborate and shape what a successful Kenyan private equity and venture capital ecosystem would look like.

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