Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Meet the new big names that now owns Okavango Delta

Within months of the snub by the Tawana Land board, Richard Branson has found his way back into the list of people who has a stake in the much celebrated Okavango Delta ÔÇô all thanks to the Wine Investment Limited, a former shareholder in Wilderness Safaris.

The British billionaire, Branson was early this year involved in a saga relating to tourism land in the Okavango Delta with the Tawana Land board. At the time, four Tawana Land Board members, Tebogo Boalotswe, Onkgomoditse Gabokakangwe, Selinah Phorano and Mpho Mothoka were unceremoniously removed from office – a move that the government later retracted.

“After careful review of the circumstances and process leading to their removal from office, and after consultations with other affected Land Board Members, the Government has taken a decision to pardon the four Land Board members and reinstate them with immediate effect”, reads part of the statement that was released by the government at the end of April 2018.

Still around April 2018, Tourism Minister Tshekedi Khama confirmed that Branson had applied for a tourism concession in the Okavango Delta through the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC).

Fast forward to July 2018 information has surfaced that Branson, together with other billionaires have bought a significant stake in local safaris company ÔÇô Wilderness Safaris through the RISE FUND.

Sunday Standard can confirm that the shares acquired by The Rise Fund were the entire holding held by Wine Investments Limited ÔÇô a Bermuda registered investment holding company.

The Rise Fund board on the other hand is a global investment fund managed by TPG Growth – a private investment firm with approximately US$13.5 billion in assets under management. The company says the Wilderness investment is its second foray into Africa having made its first investment in Kenyan digital payments company Cellulant.

Closing at $2.1 billion in commitments in less than a year, The Rise Fund is recognized as the largest private impact fund ever raised. Its investments to date include India-based dairy company Dodla Dairy, energy-efficient oven manufacturer Brava Home, and education companies EverFi (US) and Digital House (Latin America).

Here are the other big names in the wilderness safaris takeover through The Rise Fund….

Mo Ibrahim ÔÇô the Sudanese-British philanthropist and telecoms billionaire Mohammed “Mo” Ibrahim founded Celtel International in 1998, one of the first mobile phone companies serving Africa and the Middle East. He sold it to Kuwait’s Mobile Telecommunications Company for $3.4 billion in 2005 and pocketed $1.4 billion. Since then, he’s focused on fighting corrupt leadership in Africa through the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, directed by his daughter, Hadeel. Ibrahim also owns the majority of assets in Satya Capital, a private equity fund that invests in African businesses, education and healthcare.

Laurene Powell Jobs – widow of Apple founder, Steve Jobs is also a member of The Rise Fund. Powell Jobs is regarded as philanthropist and has inherited her late husband Steve Jobs’s stakes in Walt Disney and Apple. She is credited with a 4 percent stake in Disney and has helped create commercial and charitable organizations, including natural foods maker Terravera and the Emerson Collective, which supports education and environmental reform.

Anand Mahindra ÔÇô According to Forbes, the Indian Mahindra conglomerate chairperson, Anand Mahindra is the third generation scion of the Mahindra clan and chairs the $19 billion (revenue) Mahindra & Mahindra conglomerate. The group’s operations span 20 industries from auto to information technology to real estate. Anand Mahindra also owns a small but valuable stake in Kotak Mahindra Bank.

Pierre Omidyar – billionaire philanthropist is the founder of eBay, an online marketplace with more than 170 million active buyers. The San Jose-based company facilitated the sale of $88 billion in merchandise during 2017, according to its annual report. It also owns Stubhub, an online ticket broker, and spun off payment service PayPal in 2015.

Bono ÔÇô The Irish rock icon Bono is not just a singer as he leads a widely acclaimed, data-driven, global organization that influences governments, rallies C-suites, and raises hundreds of millions of dollars for people living in poverty. He has been listed amongst the founders of The Rise Fund.

Wilderness on The Rise Fund….

The Chief Executive of Wilderness Holdings, Keith Vincent said “Wilderness has always been dedicated to a purpose-driven approach based on our 4Cs sustainability ethos of Commerce, Community, Culture and Conservation.

“We welcome our newest shareholder, The Rise Fund, and are proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with such like-minded individuals. We are [now] even more committed to our founding vision: to conserve and restore Africa’s wilderness and wildlife by creating life-changing journeys and inspiring positive action.”

Mike Stone, Chief Investment Officer of The Rise Fund on the other hand said investment marks a major milestone in the relationship we have built with Wilderness Holdings.

“The prospect of helping this business grow is a thrilling one for all of us at The Rise Fund, and looking ahead we see immense potential in partnering with entrepreneurs across Africa.”

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