Key facts

We are the UK’s Development Finance Institution (DFI) and wholly owned by the UK Government. 

Our mission is to support the building of businesses throughout Africa and South Asia, to create jobs and make a lasting difference to people's lives in some of the world's poorest places. 

We were founded in 1948, making us the world's oldest DFI.

Businesses in developing countries often struggle to find the investment they need to grow. Our job is to provide scarce and patient capital to businesses and entrepreneurs in Africa and South Asia, where more than 70 per cent of the world's poorest people live.  

Our portfolio of investments is valued at £4.8bn (year end 2016) and includes 1,245 investee businesses. Last year, these companies together helped create 1.29 million new jobs. 

When we sell stakes in businesses or redeems loans, the profits are reinvested in other businesses. Last year, we invested £1.2 billion in promising businesses in developing countries, and, over the last five years, we've made an average annual return on our net assets of 12.9 per cent in pounds sterling; 7 per cent in US dollars.

Our strategy, set in conjunction with DFID, means we  only make investments in Africa and South Asia. We invest directly by providing equity, debt, mezzanine finance and guarantees to businesses; and also indirectly through supporting fund managers who are aligned with our aims and who invest our capital on our behalf. 

We are highly flexible and work to meet the needs of each business.  As an example, that may mean providing patient capital – we often look at periods of 10 years or more.  Or it might be through supporting management to adopt responsible business practices.

We aim to invest where our job creation focus can have greatest impact: in countries where the private sector is weak and jobs are scarce, and in sectors where growth leads to jobs – directly and indirectly – such as manufacturing, agribusiness, infrastructure, financial institutions, construction, health and education.

Central to our ethos is a firm commitment to responsible investment. The businesses we invest in must adhere to our Code of Responsible Investing, which stipulates environmental, social and governance standards that are often above those required by local law.