Our history

  • 1948
    1948

    The Overseas Resources Development Act 1948 received Royal Assent on 11 February, establishing CDC as a statutory....

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    The Overseas Resources Development Act 1948 received Royal Assent on 11 February, establishing CDC as a statutory corporation, with a mission to 'do good without losing money', under the leadership of Lord Trefgarne.

    1949
    1949

    CDC’s involvement with Chilanga Cement lasted fifty-three years and spanned seven decades between the late 1940s and 2001....

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    CDC’s involvement with Chilanga Cement lasted fifty-three years and spanned seven decades between the late 1940s and 2001.

     

    After various periods of greater and lesser involvement in the company, Chilanga became the first company to be listed on the newly-opened Lusaka Stock Exchange in 1995. Having also taken control of two other privatised cement companies – Malawi’s Portland Cement and Tanzania’s Mbeya Cement – CDC then combined the three to form the Pan African Cement group in 2000 and this was bought by Lafarge in 2001, yielding a good return on investment.

  • 1952
    1952

    In Bechuanaland (Botswana) CDC ventured into the meat industry, first rebuilding, modernising and extending the....

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    In Bechuanaland (Botswana) CDC ventured into the meat industry, first rebuilding, modernising and extending the derelict Lobatse Abattoir and then investing in its own 120,000-hectare Molopo Ranch.

     

    Wholly-owned and managed by CDC over five decades, Molopo went on to become one of the largest cattle ranches in southern Africa and provided the foundation for a meat industry that, until diamonds were discovered, was the most important sector in the country. 

    1964
    1964

    CDC became involved in the Kenya Tea Development Authority in 1964, and set about working closely with licensed....

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    CDC became involved in the Kenya Tea Development Authority in 1964, and set about working closely with licensed smallholders at every stage of the production process from the supply of seedlings through to the transport of the green leaf tea to the factories.

     

    KTDA went on to become established as Africa’s most successful smallholder scheme and by 1983 there were 145,000 farmers with 58,000 hectares of tea being processed in thirty-nine factories. Every fourth cup of tea drunk in Britain at that time came from Kenya, half of it produced by KTDA smallholders, and KTDA could claim to be the largest single tea-growing organisation in the world. By 2006, the figures had increased to 420,000 smallholders growing tea on 90,000 hectares, with fifty-four factories producing 730,000 tonnes per annum, representing sixty per cent of Kenya’s tea production.

  • 1972
    1972

    The Mananga Agricultural Management Centre, established in Swaziland in 1972, represented one of CDC’s....

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    The Mananga Agricultural Management Centre, established in Swaziland in 1972, represented one of CDC’s more innovative and far-reaching initiatives.

     

    It aimed to turn agricultural managers from all around CDC’s universe into competent general managers. Located within the Swaziland Irrigation Scheme on the lower slopes of Mananga Mountain, it became a training centre of excellence and demand for places on its courses soon extended way beyond CDC, with eighty per cent of its students coming from outside the organisation by 1980 – most of them sent there independently by African governments. CDC continued to own it until 1998 and at that point one of its senior lecturers, Dr Ranga Taruvinga, acquired the intellectual rights to the Centre and its library. 

    1976
    1976

    Higaturu Oil Palms was formally established in 1976 as a joint venture with the Papua New Guinea government....

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    Higaturu Oil Palms was formally established in 1976 as a joint venture with the Papua New Guinea government.

     

    Managed by CDC, Higaturu formed the initial building block in what eventually became CDC’s largest palm oil group, Pacific Rim Palm Oil Ltd (PRPOL), which it controlled until 2005. 

  • 1988
    1988

    In 1988, CDC opened offices in Delhi and Karachi and later that year one investment in Pakistan had already been....

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    In 1988, CDC opened offices in Delhi and Karachi and later that year one investment in Pakistan had already been approved by the CDC Board, and in India, three approvals were on the books with another eleven being worked up.

     

    A series of very capable regional representatives soon built up two of the biggest portfolios anywhere in CDC’s world. Among the most successful early investments in India was Apollo Tyres, supported by CDC in 1989-90 with equity and loan finance to build the second of its plants in Baroda in Gujarat. Apollo has gone on to become one of the top three tyre producers in India.

    1990
    1990

    In October 1990, Exxon invited an MBO team backed by CDC and other investors to come up with a deal....

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    In October 1990, Exxon invited an MBO team backed by CDC and other investors to come up with a deal to buy a fertiliser plant at Daharki in the Sind province of Pakistan.

     

    CDC took ten per cent and, along with ten other institutions, provided a loan to help finance the expansion. Renamed Engro Chemicals Pakistan Ltd – Engro being a contraction of Energy for Growth – the company grew and diversified, becoming a highly respected member of Pakistan’s business and industrial community and an inspiration for others contemplating their own buyouts. Until it sold its shares in 2002, doubling its investment, CDC remained on the board in an advisory capacity.

  • 1998
    1998

    In 1998, MSI Cellular Investments was formed by Dr Mo Ibrahim – later re-branded as Celtel – with the aim....

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    In 1998, MSI Cellular Investments was formed by Dr Mo Ibrahim – later re-branded as Celtel – with the aim of developing a pan-African telecoms company.

     

    With its long experience of working throughout Africa, CDC was an obvious natural partner, and we then worked very closely with the company over the next seven years, providing not only finance but also boardroom, management and investment support at every level and making full use of our contacts network throughout Africa. By 2005, when Celtel was bought for $3.4 billion by the Kuwait-based Mobile Telecommunications Company– earning CDC a return of $330million on its $76.5 million investment over the years – it was operating in thirteen African countries.

    2004
    2004

    In 2004, CDC was reconfigured to operate mainly as a fund-of-funds, while a new fund management company....

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    In 2004, CDC was reconfigured to operate mainly as a fund-of-funds, while a new fund management company - Actis - was 'spun out' of CDC to manage its investments and also launch new funds in which investments by others would be invited.

     

    This would also meet the objective of enabling more capital to be channel into investments in developing countries. CDC continued to commit capital to funds managed by Actis, but it also given the freedom to invest capital with other fund managers, which we did. CDC now has 155 fund commitments managed by 80 managers. 

  • 2012
    2012

    In 2012 CDC announced a new strategy focused around its mission: to support the building of businesses....

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    In 2012 CDC announced a new strategy focused around its mission: to support the building of businesses throughout Africa and South Asia, to create jobs and make lasting difference to people's lives in some of the world's poorest places.

     

    Under the new strategy CDC also announced that it would now provide capital in all forms - debt, equity, mezzanine, guarantees - both directly as well as through funds that are aligned with our strategy. To execute this strategy we will 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.