An African investment fund specializing in agriculture has invested in Kenyan packaging firm General Plastics Ltd. to provide funds to expand in the region, the companies announced Jan. 28.
GPL, which employs 900 people at two injection and blow molding factories in Nairobi, said the investment from the African Agricultural Fund and fund manager Phatisa will let it tap into growing demand for food packaging.
“The partnership with Phatisa will allow us to reinforce our plans to expand into the region,” said Rashik Shah, founder and managing director of GPL.
“Local and regional consumer demand is increasing for functional packaging that is affordable, convenient and suitably branded,” he said in a statement. “With this new capital injection, we believe GPL is well placed to benefit from these growing trends.”
The companies did not disclose the size of the investment in GPL but said the AAF has invested $123 million to date in eight companies across Africa's agriculture sector, including palm oil, farming, fertilizer and beverages.
GPL started in 1977 molding plastic sandals, buckles and other products and moved into packaging in 1980. Today, according to its website, the company has 8,000 metric tons a year of processing capacity in its two ISO-certified factories.
The company said it supplies bottles, closures and containers to some of the region's largest consumer goods manufacturers and wholesalers, including Unilever, Kenya Shell, Beiersdorf EA Ltd. and Excel Chemicals.
“The market for plastics packaging material in the East African and Comesa [Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa] region in general, and in Kenya, has been rapidly expanding over the last decade, including during the past five years when the Kenyan economy has in general been in a decline,” GPL said on its website.
At least 85 percent of GPL's production is used in Kenya, with exports to other countries in the region, the company said.
GPL said it provides extrusion blow molding, injection molding, thin-wall molding and PET injection stretch blow molding.
The AAF investment fund is overseen by Phatisa, an African private equity fund manager with a total of $285 million in funds under management, including the Pan Africa Housing Fund. Phatisa has offices in five African countries and London.
Phatisa said the two funds bring a “balanced blend of private equity and development finance… to build sustainable assets on the ground,” which it calls “development equity.”
“We look forward to working together to enhance and expand GPL operations across East Africa,” said Paul Wythe, senior partner with Phatisa.