Barak Fund Management was founded on the back of smart thinking in the tight liquidity constraints of sub-Saharan Africa. The two founders, Prieur du Plessis and Jean Craven, both hailed from banking backgrounds and had time and time again seen potential lucrative deals being overlooked because they did not fit traditional financing structures.
Prieur and Jean acknowledged that doing business in sub-Saharan Africa was no easy feat, however realised that from their experience, the potential yields in the region from an alternative financing perspective were far greater than they had been dealing with in their respective banking-sector transactions.
The Barak Team has grown steadily over the years as both deal implementation and investor interest has grown, with this Team now boasting an impressive on-the-ground footprint in all parts of the sub-Sahara African region. Both strong investor relations and a rigid client-sourcing network has been the top priority for all at Barak, and the continued success of the story is based on this consistently solid foundation.
From the launch of the Barak Structured Trade Finance Fund in February 2009, the company has built up a strong reputation in the trade finance value chain in over 30 countries in Africa. With consistent performance and no negative months seen by the STF Fund, the global exposure from investor interest that the Fund has reached has grown considerably since 2009. The investor reach includes Family Offices, HNWI, Fund of Funds, Pension Funds, and more recently a strong sentiment from many large global institutional investors and niche assets managers. The AUM of the Fund as at the beginning of 2017 is in excess of US$450 million (up 80% from beginning of 2016), with the pipeline continuously growing each quarter.
Two more funds were added in 2014, being the Barak Impact Finance Fund and the Barak Shanta Commodity Fund. The thought process of the Fund Manager has always been to add value in the African trade markets wherever the opportunity lies, and in early 2016 the demand for longer-term financing outside of Barak’s trade finance core focus arose. Hence, the Barak Mikopo Fund (African medium-term developmental asset-backed credit) and the Barak Asha Fund (African Impact long-term agri-project financing) were launched mid-2016 to address this growing demand for our existing and prospective pipeline of longer-term funding opportunities. The sixth Fund to be added to the Barak product suite has been the Barak Shariah Trade Finance Fund, which looks to bring on board a growing investor demand out of the Middle East. The Fund, like the STF and Impact Finance Fund, focuses on short-term lending into African trade.
The Barak story thus far has been one of consistency, reliability and the ability to go into places within African financing that traditional capital providers cannot, or will not. The trading markets in Africa, be it short, medium or long term, hold exciting and unique opportunities, and the Barak Team remains committed to investors to seek out these opportunities to continuously provide the yield-seeking, correctly risk-adjusted performance that it has become globally renowned for.