The Rise Fund, a global investment fund managed by TPG Growth, has acquired a 34% stake in Wilderness Holdings, an ecotourism group with operations in seven African countries.
Founded in 1983, Wilderness Holdings’ mission is to conserve and restore African wilderness and wildlife through ecotourism.
Listed on the Botswana and Johannesburg Stock Exchanges, Wilderness Holdings is a group of responsible ecotourism companies, such as Wilderness Safaris and Governors’ Camp Collection, that together use responsible tourism to build sustainable conservation economies in Africa.
Wilderness established its first permanent safari camps in Botswana in 1985 and has since expanded across sub-Saharan Africa, where it provides premier environmentally sustainable ecotourism experiences.
At the same time, Wilderness supports the conservation of six million acres of protected land, home to several endangered and at-risk species like the black rhino and mountain gorilla.
Wilderness has also initiated programs to reintroduce some threatened animals back into their former range areas, as well as rehabilitate existing natural environments through dedicated management programs.
Wilderness works closely with local community leaders and drives local economic growth by creating stable, well-paying jobs in the communities where it operates.
“We are excited about our partnership with Wilderness Holdings, a great example of Botswana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Bill McGlashan, Co-Founder and CEO of the Rise Fund and Founder and Managing Partner of TPG Growth.
“This is a great opportunity to partner with an important Africa-grown company to help them expand their business while building on their long track-record and history of sustainability and environmental and social impact across the continent.”
“This investment marks a major milestone in the relationship we have built with Wilderness Holdings. Keith and his leadership team ranks as one of the very strongest in Africa, and Wilderness Holdings has the potential to create significant environmental and economic impact on the continent,” said Mike Stone, CIO of the Rise Fund.
“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.”
Wilderness Holdings has a 100% subsidiary, Wilderness Air, an airline specializing in transportation to remote areas.
Wilderness Holdings also founded and continues to support two nonprofit trusts focused on conservation and community empowerment: Wilderness Wildlife Trust, which supports research, conservation, community empowerment, and anti-poaching initiatives, and Children in the Wilderness, an environmental education and youth development program for local children living in the areas adjacent to the wildlife areas where Wilderness camps are situated.
Keith Vincent, Wilderness Holdings CEO, said: “Wilderness has always been dedicated to a purpose-driven approach based on our 4Cs sustainability ethos of Commerce, Community, Culture and Conservation; offering our guests life-changing journeys with a ‘purpose.’
We welcome our newest shareholder, the Rise Fund, and are proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with such like-minded individuals. As a company proudly born and bred in Botswana 35 years ago, we are even more committed to our founding vision than ever before: to conserve and restore Africa’s wilderness and wildlife by creating life-changing journeys and inspiring positive action.”
Earlier in 2018, the Rise Fund made its first investment in Africa, in Kenyan digital payments company Cellulant.
Closing at $2.1bn in commitments in less than a year, the Rise Fund is recognized as the largest private impact fund ever raised.
The Rise Fund’s investment strategy is to drive quantifiable impact outcomes aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), alongside competitive financial returns.
The Rise Fund will be represented in due course on Wilderness Holdings’ board by Yemi Lalude and Jide Olanrewaju.