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BREAKING: Former PPC Cement head announced as new SA SME Fund CEO [Updated]

Former PPC Cement head Ketso Gordhan was today announced as the new CEO of the SA SME Fund.

The announcement that Gordhan will take the helm of the fund — which has yet to start lending to small businesses two years after it was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa when he was then deputy president — was made today in a press release by Discovery on behalf o the SA SME Fund.

It follows the resignation in June of Quinton Dicks, after being appointed in January last year. Using commitments by large listed companies, the R1.5-billion fund will put money into private funds that will then lend to small companies.

Read more: SA SME Fund CEO’s stepping down was ‘amicable’ says fund official

Discovery head of mergers and acquisitions Lisa Klein had been tasked by Discovery CEO Adrian Gore, to find a new CEO.

Gordhan — a former anti-apartheid activist — has previously served as the head of private equity at FirstRand for almost a decade. He has also managed a personal impact investment portfolio with a focus on education in SA and Rwanda and has served as Africa advisor to the Omidyar Network.

Former PPC Cement head Ketso Gordhan was today announced as the new CEO of the SA SME Fund

He has also served as head of Africa for the Commonwealth Development Corporation where he led the Africa investment strategy for the UK government’s development finance arm.

Among his other roles, Gordhan was also first post-apartheid director general in the Ministry of Transport and served as the city manager for the City of Johannesburg in 1999 and 2000.

Adrian Gore, Chairman of the SA SME Fund Board said Gordhan held a “deep-seated knowledge” of and a breadth of experience in many spheres of investing.

“He also has a profound understanding of how best to execute public private partnerships. Ketso is passionate about social change, and as the board we are very excited about the energy he will bring to Phase 2 of the Fund,” he said.

In June Klein said while Dicks had done a good job in putting in place “rigorous” systems for the fund and has assembled a team of five, there was a need to put in place a new person for what she referred to as “stage two” of the fund.

At the time she conceded that the fund had “probably moved a bit too slowly”, but pointed out that with all governance and systems now in place the fund could move forward more aggressively.

She confirmed that the fund had so far signed up three funds which it would invest in, that then lend or invest in small businesses. The names of the three would be announced in the coming months, she added.

In the statement today, Gordhan noted that he will focus on the fund’s broad objective of creating and growing mainly black entrepreneurs. This will be done via co-investments in SMEs and gazelles, entrepreneur-led early stage businesses, and social impact investments.

He told Ventureburn in an email that he hopes to match his experience as a senior government official and private equity and impact investor to the mandate of the SA SME Fund. “This is to create and grow mainly black entrepreneurs and businesses,” he said.

“This will be done in partnership with fund managers, our corporate investors and other intermediaries which whom we can structure working relationships. I am excited by the challenge, and look forward to hitting the ground running,” he told Ventureburn.

Read more: Exclusive: ‘Government won’t match private sector in R1.5bn SME fund’
Read more: Over a year on, when will big companies’ SA SME Fund get going? [Opinion]
Read more: SA SME Fund will commence with due diligence in July says CEO
Read more: SA SME Fund is not aimed at venture capital sector, says CEO

Editor’s note (21 August 2018): In June Ventureburn editor Stephen Timm promised Discovery’s Lisa Klein that he would crack open a bottle of champagne — and photograph this and carry this as a story — upon receiving the announcement of the SA SME Fund’s first deal. Ventureburn extends the invitation to Mr Gordhan too. Let’s make it happen.

Editor’s note (21 August 2018): Ketso Gordhan told Ventureburn in an email on 21 August that he needed time to meet with the “key players and have my feet under the desk” and will be able to field questions from the publication after doing so.

“I hope to match my experience as a senior government official and private equity and impact investor to the mandate of the SA SME Fund. This is to create and grow mainly black entrepreneurs and businesses.

“This will be done in partnership with fund managers, our corporate investors and other intermediaries which whom we can structure working relationships. I am excited by the challenge, and look forward to hitting the ground running,” he told Ventureburn.

*Correction (24 August 2018): Ventureburn incorrectedly referred to Discovery Group as “Discovery Health”. Discovery Health is in fact a business within the Discovery Group. We regret the error.

Featured image: MzansiCASTER via Youtube


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