Emerging market private equity firm Actis has sold its interest in Banque Commerciale du Rwanda (BCR), in an effort to broaden BCR’s international reach.

Actis’ 80% interest in BCR was sold to Kenyan regional bank I&M and French and German development finance institutions, Proparco and DEG, with the remaining 20% still held by the government of Rwanda.

Rwanda’s minister of finance and economic planning, John Rwangombwa, says: “The successful equity exit of Actis reflects the investment opportunities that the Rwandan government has helped foster. This new sale is a testament to the attractiveness of Rwanda as an investment destination. Rwanda is committed to creating a financial sector that is inclusive and accessible to allow Rwandans to take advantages of all its services.”

Actis acquired interest in BCR in a 2004 privatisation meant to boost the country’s economy following the post-genocide crisis. Its strategy was to strengthen the management team, recruiting and training local Rwandan staff, and to broaden BCR’s range of services with a particular focus on small businesses.

“The privatisation of BCR in 2004 through a private equity investment was the first of its type in the Rwanda banking sector and has been highly successful,” adds Rwangombwa.

Paul Fletcher, senior partner at Actis, says: “The story of BCR is the story of Rwanda’s success. If we think back to 2003/4, the financial services sector was largely undeveloped and in need of capital; a large proportion of the population was unbanked. There has been extraordinary progress in the past eight years with the creation of a growing and competitive financial services industry at the heart of a thriving economy.”

Actis currently has over US$300mn of investments in East Africa, and plans to invest another US$200mn in the region in the next four years.