Mara Launches Uganda Fund, Makes First SME Investment

Ashish.Thakkar

VENTURES AFRICA – Mara Launch Uganda Fund, a venture capital firm of Ugandan billionaire Ashish Thakkar, has announced Charcolite Firestarter Ltd as the first beneficiary of its fund.

The MD of Charcolite Ltd., Mr. Lungs Bernard innovated clean and effective fire starters and cooking briquettes seeing that the Ugandan market widely employed an environmentally unhygienic method for cooking.

According to him: “The 2002 Uganda Population and Housing Census by Uganda Bureau of Statistics, indicates that over 97 percent of households use biomass as a source of energy for cooking, but there is no effective and clean fire starter in the market.”

He furthered: “The product was developed to solve the problem of fire starting using biomass energy faced by many Ugandans.”
The Mara Launch Uganda Fund was established 6 months ago to provide an alternative source of financing to African entrepreneurs with the goal of driving job creation.

Nigel Ball, Director of Mara Foundation, said: “A lack of access to finance, particularly for young entrepreneurs, is one of barriers to Africa’s economic development.”

“We need to equip these young entrepreneurs with all the necessary tools to compete favourably with the rest of the world,” he urged.
Bernard has said the injected capital will be used to acquire a crushing machine and rent a manufacturing premise, thereby facilitating a production expansion.

According to Mara Launch Uganda Fund, in addition to the capital provided, Charcolite will also get technical assistance from the fund’s investment committee and Mara Foundation, whose aim is to grow and strengthen the small and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs).

The Fund’s investment committee is spear headed by 3 renowned entrepreneurs – Ashish J. Thakkar, CEO of Mara Group, Alex Rezida of NARE (Nangwale, Razida & Co. Advocates), and Peter Mukiza, Director of Quantum Capital.

The Mara Launch Uganda Fund is a venture capital endeavour that provides risk capital of between 5,000,000 UGX ($2,000) and 10,000,000 UGX ($4,000) to high-growth start-up and early-stage small and medium-sized enterprises in various sectors, in return for an equity share in the business, supporting them to grow and thereby spurring economic growth and job creation.