Acumen fund gets new director for East Africa

Saturday August 4 2012


Social investing firm Acumen Fund has had a change of guard in its East African office.

Biju Mohandas, who served as the East Africa director, has left the firm.

In a statement announcing his departure, Mr Mohandas who holds an MBA from the Indian School of Business, said that he was moving to the Nairobi office of the International Finance Corporation—the private sector arm of the World Bank—where he will lead the health and education investment team in sub-Saharan Africa.

“I will also be co-leading an initiative called Health in Africa, which aims to identify and ameliorate constraints to the development of the health sector in Africa,” he added in the statement.

As East Africa director, Mr Mohandas, who previously served in the Indian army besides working in Acumen Fund’s India office, was responsible for all investments, operations, and business development activities across the continent in addition to being jointly responsible for the firm’s global health portfolio. He was based in Nairobi.

Duncan Onyango, the group chief finance officer at the Rift Valley Railways, which holds the concession to operate the railway network in Kenya and Uganda, takes over the reins of the firm in September.

He previously served as managing director and principal consultant at Quantum Africa Limited, a business consultancy firm.

The Oxford University and University of London trained Mr Onyango joins the firm as it works on what the outgoing East Africa director described as “true local presence in every sense”.

Investment committee

At the moment, the team and board of advisors who are drawn from local talent; and Acumen Fund is working on putting together a local investment committee that will be responsible for approving deals.

At the moment, the task is handled by the global investment committee. In addition, the firm is engaged in tapping into local sources of capital.

It was during the tenure of Mr Mohandas that the firm introduced an East Africa fellows programme to grow and develop social investing talent.

He leaves Acumen, as the firm, which already has invested in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, is finalising its maiden deal in Rwanda in what he told The EastAfrican in an earlier interview, was meant to make it “truly East African”. While it has existing investments in Kenya and Uganda, it already exited the Tanzania deals.