Leo Williams has been appointed fund managing director for SEAF Caribbean SME Growth Fund which recently launched its US$40 million investment in 15 companies in partnership with Sagicor Investments and the Development Bank of Jamaica to name a few of the notable institutional investors.
“Yes, I am now the head of the Caribbean Fund which is a part of a global network led by SEAF which operates 39 emerging market funds. We currently have 15 companies we are working with but the goal is to grow by investing private equity into more companies. We have a target of US$100 million. Our aim is to grow this asset class in Jamaica.”
Chairman of the Jamaica at Princeton University Alumni Association, Williams has over 25 years investing experience in the local capital markets. Eleven years ago, Williams resigned as managing director of JMMB Securities after launching that brand into the wider Caribbean to partner with his wife, Fayval Williams and Gary Sinclair and founded Kingston REIT. At that time, Williams also formed Caribbean Energy Finance Co. Ltd and Williams & Associates Investments Ltd. Serving as Mentor to the Board of Everything Fresh Ltd since 2018, Williams continues his long association with listed companies.
For this new venture which was a year in the making, Williams will be supported at SEAF Caribbean by Kurt Kisto who is the senior managing director of the Latin America and Caribbean side of SEAF and is based in Panama. Gerard Johnson will be the senior advisor who will focus on the Caribbean investment portfolio from his base in Kingston. Johnson previously worked with the Inter-American Development Bank. He is currently a partner in an investment facilitation company and senior policy advisor to the Minister of Finance.
The partnership with Sagicor represents Williams push to leverage SEAF’s experience in completing more than 400 investments and 300 exits from small and medium enterprises. According to their website, SEAF “invests institutional and impact capital into enterprises which provide commercial returns and social impact across themes of access to education & healthcare, clean energy, agribusiness, women’s economic empowerment, and financial and technology inclusion. With more than 100 professionals across nearly thirty global offices, SEAF provides its portfolio companies with a unique platform to grow their businesses. In addition to the local management team of a respected fund, portfolio companies will be supported by SEAF’s global platform, with experienced professionals providing the knowledge and resources desired by companies to reach the next level.”
“We currently have 15 companies we are working with but the goal is to grow by investing private equity into more companies. We have a target of US$100 million.”– Leo Williams
The website also goes on to explain that the companies that SEAF invests in generally employ between 20 and 250 people and have annual revenues of between $200,000 and $15 million; however, these ranges differ greatly for different investment vehicles, industry sectors and countries.
SEAF interacts with the companies to build competencies in marketing, operations, compliance and other areas to turn these companies to profitability for investors in the fund.