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eleni LLC., a newly formed company led by Eleni Gabre-Madhin (PhD),
founder and former CEO of Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) announced that Morgan Stanley and IFC (International Finance Corporation) have both agreed to make an equity investment for the Nairobi, Kenya-based company which will incubate and support the formation of commodity exchanges across Africa, helping to promote food security.
It is also anticipated that a third investor, the 8 Miles Fund, an Africa-focused private equity fund, will join the investment round within a month, together with envisaged support from the African Development Bank.
Building on the success of the highly acclaimed Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX), which she founded and managed from 2008 to 2012, Eleni and co-founders Keith Thomas and Jawad Ali have launched eleni LLC., which aims to be the industry leader in designing, building, and supporting the operations of commodity exchange eco-systems in frontier markets.
The company’s business model is based on delivering turnkey projects on a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) basis, combining private investment with the best of know-how, technology and management, to support exchange projects. The company expects to launch several such projects in 2013.
“I cannot think of a better time to develop this business in Africa. Africa is the world’s last frontier for agriculture, with only one quarter of its yield potential achieved and seventy percent of its farmland as yet unused. Our company represents passion, excellence, integrity and innovation. Our aim is to build vibrant exchanges across frontier economies, going beyond Africa and beyond agriculture, to transform not only commodity markets but also the livelihoods of millions of producers,” Eleni said.
Funding of 5 million dollar for eleni LLC has been raised by investment from Morgan Stanley, which has invested in a number of exchanges and market centers around the world, and IFC, the financial arm of the World Bank Group, the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector, will invest up to 2.5 million dollars.
Beyond the initial funding, each country or regional exchange project will involve the formation of a private investor consortium. eleni LLC aims to rollout exchanges progressively across Africa and elsewhere in the coming years.
“Morgan Stanley is committed to leveraging its financial expertise in support of business models that help address society’s greatest challenges and as an early strategic investor in successful market structure companies. We look forward to bringing our expertise to help eleni LLC achieve positive social and economic impact,” Gary Offner, Managing Director of Morgan Stanley, said.
“Africa is a strategic priority for IFC, and, by improving the functioning of commodity markets, this project will enhance productivity and risk management. It will also make finance more accessible for farmers, helping them to increase their share of the final price and get paid more quickly,” Georgina Baker, Director Trade and Supply Chain, IFC, said on his part.
Morgan Stanley is a leading global financial services firm providing a wide range of investment banking, securities, investment management and wealth management services.
Eleni Gabre-Madhin has been recognized with the Yara Prize for Agricultural Transformation in Africa and the African Banker Icon award, among others.