Why a West African investment company chose Rwanda to domicile its investment vehicle | The new times

Since the inception of the Kigali International Financial Center in 2020 seeking to position Rwanda as a commercial and financial hub in Africa, it has consistently attracted a number of investors and members who constitute the first tenants.

Among the first entrants is Dakar Network Angels (DNA), an Angel Network based in Dakar (Senegal) which invests in startups in French-speaking Africa. DNA targets technology-driven companies that create innovative solutions for Africa and serve a significant market.

By creating an investment holding company in Rwanda, DNA sends the signal that the KIFC is a financial center that is interested in and serves the French-speaking markets.

Company officials say this is partly due to the ease of operations, investor-friendly onboarding process that DNA has chosen to structure its operations through KIFC. DNA currently has a network of approximately 45 members based in the United States, Europe and across Africa.

Marième Diop, the founder of DNA, said that she chose Rwanda as the ideal jurisdiction considering several factors including ease of installation, tax regime, flexibility, among others.

“In terms of the jurisdictions we looked at, we looked at several jurisdictions in Africa and beyond. We wanted a flexible vehicle to have a fast investment process. We also noted that Rwanda had a competitive tax regime, the application process was very fast compared to other SFIs, the set-up costs were relatively low as well as the maintenance costs,” she said.

Diop noted that so far they are happy with their choice of Kigali and plan to use the fund as an investment vehicle to invest in start-ups in the Francophone market.

“We opted for a limited liability company with several classes of shares and each class of shares follows a particular investment. Everything was made easy from the start. It was easy to set up. It is easy to manage,” he said.

The company is also looking for potential Rwandan companies eligible for investment.

“We are also looking for potential Rwandan companies to invest in. We have advocated for Rwanda among our peers (Angel Networks) as one of the best places to set up investment vehicles. We hope more people will see Rwanda as a top investment hub,” she said.

The attributes cited as ideal for investors settling in KIFC are in part due to the efforts led by Rwanda Finance Limited to carry out major reforms in the laws to improve the attractiveness of the local system for local and international capital.

Among the reformed legislations is the law relating to the promotion and facilitation of investments; the law on partnerships, the law on undertakings for collective investment, the law on companies and the law relating to the prevention and suppression of money laundering, the financing of terrorism and the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Gwladys Watrin, Business Development Manager at Rwanda Finance Limited, said the KIFC is suited to the needs of a wide range of investors for their respective types of investment opportunities across Africa.

“Early-stage investors like Dakar Network Angels (DNA) are important in providing capital to startups. At the Kigali International Financial Center, we understand the need to connect each type of investor to their respective type of business opportunity. investment all over Africa DNA is currently investing in West Africa through Kigali, we encourage more discussions between DNA and local startups ready to invest in Rwanda,” Gwladys Watrin, Business Development Manager.

Umulinga Karangwa, board member of Rwanda Finance Limited and founder of Africa Nziza Investment Advisory, said Rwandan startups will also benefit from the company serving its job creation and economic growth ambitions.

“As a proud Rwandan and a member of the Dakar Network Angels, I am delighted that DNA is a forerunner in creating an investment vehicle in KIFC. DNA and Marième Diop are leaders in seed investing on the continent and they have chosen Kigali for their investments.. I am excited about Kigali’s potential to channel record amounts of capital being invested in African startups,” he said.

The Kigali International Financial Center continues to attract a number of investors and members ranging from social impact investors, angel investors, investment firms, financial service providers, business service providers, among others.

It was ranked this year in the Global Financial Centers Index (GFCI), a renowned ranking on the competitiveness of financial centers around the world.

The index assesses 116 financial centers around the world by combining assessments of financial professionals with quantitative data that constitute instrumental factors.

KIFC was also mentioned as one of the top centers likely to become more prominent in the future as well as one of the centers with a reputational advantage.

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