FB News

The Dutch family cleaning up sustainable investments in East Africa

By James Beech

A fair-trade plastics recycling company in Kenya is the latest social investment of patient capital by the entrepreneurial investors of a Dutch family of wealth.

DOB Equity, office of a discreet family, partnered with the London headquartered non-profit Global Innovation Fund and the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever to coinvest in Mr Green Africa, the Nairobi based recycler and recycled plastics supplier. The venture, announced this week, was in response to the growing demand for recyclables, in an era of heightened awareness of plastic pollution in the natural environment.

The undisclosed investment aimed to boost the two-year-old Kenyan tech-enabled startup’s processing capacity to produce higher value recycled products in larger volumes to supply consumer goods companies.

Saskia van der Mast, investment director, said in a statement DOB Equity expected the demand for recyclable materials in emerging markets such as Kenya to overtake developed countries, “driven by the fact that Kenya is a growth market for these companies, as well as the negative effect of plastic packaging being more evident."

“With its unique sourcing infrastructure and focus on quality we believe Mr Green Africa can work together with companies and provide an example for the plastics value chain globally,” she said.

Mr Green Africa was the latest in a series of investments in “innovative, scalable and impactful companies” DOB Equity has made this century. The family office acquired stakes in 15 other ventures across the East African energy, food and agriculture, education, retail and distribution sectors.

DOB Equity is a 49% shareholder in Globology, a ferry builder and operator at Lake Victoria. DOB teamed up with Hooge Raedt Social Ventures BV, a Dutch impact investor, to scale its fleet and increase the supply of safe and affordable water transportation services around Lake Victoria (pictured) in 2016. After two years of DOB investment, Globology was able to design and build fast, affordable and safe catamaran passenger ferries to serve more than half a million passengers around the vast lake.

DOB Equity was on trend with the 67% of respondents to The Private Equity and Co-Investing for Family Offices report in 2018, by Campden Research with global investment firm KKR. Those respondents said their family office demand for co-investment deals was likely to increase over the next 12 months. Their most important criteria for choosing a co-investing partner was the potential partner’s track record for value creation (86%), followed by industry-related expertise (84%) and co-investing experience (84%).

DOB Equity mirrored the 68% of families surveyed by Campden Research with UBS for The Global Family Office Report 2018 who focused on thematic sustainable investing—clean energy, gender equality, healthcare, water and so on.

DOB Equity, which has offices in the Netherlands and on the ground in Kenya and Tanzania. On the six-person board are Theo and Frank Tobé. Theo was instrumental in his family’s private equity ventures from the beginning of what evolved into DOB Equity in 1997. He was the founding managing director and became a board member in 2009. Third-generation Frank serves as an adviser while running his eponymously named communications agency for multigenerational business families.

The Tobé family sold its European-based retail conglomerate in 2003, according to Frank’s website.

“Founded by his grandfather in the 1950s, at the time of sale the holding comprised over 1,500 discount pharmacies across Western Europe and the United Kingdom. Proceeds from the sale were used to setup several foundations.”

Top Stories