News

15 July 2020

Nordic financing assists African safari lodges in handling the COVID-19

The tourist and leisure sectors have been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Asilia Africa, a market-leading safari operator in East Africa, has seen demand vanish temporarily and needs access to funds to maintain its social and wildlife responsibilities during the crisis. IFU and Norfund have jointly provided USD nine million in debt financing.

In 2019, Africa’s tourism industry was the second fastest growing in the world and employed more than 24 million people on the continent. [1]

For many years, Asilia’s 19 safari lodges in Kenya and Tanzania have been giving tourists a unique experience and insight into the wildlife and people of East Africa. The company offers eco-safari experiences that contribute to the conservation of the environment as well as the development of local communities.  However, overnight tourists stopped arriving because of COVID-19, with serious consequences for the company, its employees and the funding for conservation and community projects.

Maintaining jobs

To minimize the negative effects, the owners of Asilia have endeavoured to balance considerations to the future business and the current impact on local communities. Consequently, the company has managed to sustain 750 out of 900 jobs. Moreover, the company has continued funding its social and wildlife projects within the local communities.

– Asilia is grateful for the support of Norfund and IFU as we continue to navigate the unprecedented effects COVID-19 has left on the safari and tourism industries. It is with thanks to them, our committed staff and our partners that we are ready to play our part in the recovery and development of our industry beyond the negative effects of the virus,” said Jeroen Harderwijk, Co-Founder and CEO of Asilia.

– Asilia is a very professional and well-managed safari operator with a high degree of social responsibility and a sustainable approach to tourism, which is in line with IFU’s aim to creating high impact when investing in private businesses. Our goal is to assist Asilia in emerging even stronger after the crisis enabling them to further extend their positive impact said Emil Sierczynski, Senior Investment Manager, IFU.

Liquidity constraints

The combination of running expenses and no revenue puts serious constraints on the liquidity of a company like Asilia. To fund Asilia during the COVID-19 crisis and sustain the impact until the safari tourism is back to normal, IFU and Norfund have provided debt of USD nine million in total.

– One out of three jobs are at risk in Africa as a result of COVID-19. Sustainable African companies, such as Asilia, need funding now to overcome this crisis and to ensure that the positive economic and social development we have seen the last 20 years, among others thanks to development aid, is not lost, said Tellef Thorleifsson, CEO Norfund.