Norwegian investment fund Norfund, Dutch development bank FMO and Dutch Rabobank have co-launched a US$660mn investment company in Cape Town, in a bid to accelerate the growth of Africa’s financial sector.

Under the name Arise, the new company, which is now operational in more than 10 African countries, is “set to play a pivotal role in advancing the financial sector on the African continent”, according to a statement by Arise.

The investment company will partner with sustainable, locally-owned financial service providers across Sub-Saharan Africa, with its first projects soon to be announced in Uganda and Ghana. It will provide technical assistance and management services, as well as allocate capital for African banks to improve the access to finance for SMEs and trade enterprises in sectors such as agriculture and renewable energy, a spokesperson tells GTR.

Arise’s CEO Deepak Malik says the core aim of Arise is to “build strong and stable institutions that will serve retail, SMEs, the rural sector, and clients who have not previously had access to financial services”.

“Arise will increase the availability of financial services to SMEs and will provide a platform for people in Sub-Saharan Africa to empower themselves by opening bank accounts and taking loans – in turn building a better life for their families. We are excited to be spearheading this new venture and sincerely believe that we can make a difference in our own small way,” he says.

Arise currently manages more than US$660mn in assets, an amount that is expected to grow to US$1bn. The company is the result of a partnership between the three European lenders, announced in August last year, in which they agreed to pool together investments in financial service providers across Africa.