Dutch lender Rabobank, Norway’s Norfund, and private sector development bank FMO have teamed up to set up a new investment company to support the development of the financial sector in Africa.

The companies will create the company by pooling their stakes in several financial service providers (FSPs) in sub-Saharan Africa.

The newly created company, dubbed Arise, will take and manage minority stakes in African FSPs, with an aim to build stable FSPs that will cater to retail, SMEs, the rural sector, and customers without access to financial services. 

Arise will initially operate in over 20 countries, and will manage $660m in assets that is expected to grow to $1bn eventually.

Norfund CEO Kjell Roland said: “The establishment of Arise will contribute to the development of the financial sector in Africa on a scale which is far beyond what Norfund can achieve by itself. By partnering with experienced, like-minded investors such as FMO and Rabobank, will ensure that Arise benefits from excellent banking, technical and managerial expertise.”

The company, which will be operational from 1 January 2017, aims to support the growth of the FSPs by offering technical assistance and management services in areas of governance, management, marketing, innovation, compliance and risk management.

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FMO CEO Nanno Kleiterp said: “FMO is proud to co-create a unique platform for investing in African banks with Norfund and Rabobank. Arise can leverage the extensive banking knowledge and valuable agri-banking expertise of its founding partners.

“This partnership will increase the availability of financial services to small and medium enterprises. Above all it will allow the people in Sub-Saharan Africa to empower themselves by getting bank accounts and taking loans and thus building a better life for their families.”

Banco Montepio, a Portuguese financial group with banking investments in Africa, is also ecpected to join the partnership in the future.