Feronia Inc

Central Africa,Africa Food and agriculture

Feronia Inc is an agricultural production and processing business in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At its heart lies a long-established palm oil business, Plantations et Huileries du Congo S.A (PHC), which has three remote plantations: Lokutu, Yaligimba and Boteka.

Set up by Lever Brothers in 1911 and once one of the most important businesses in the DRC, the business suffered decades of under-investment due to the civil conflict in the DRC prior to its acquisition by Feronia in 2009. Feronia was established to facilitate the rebuilding of the business from a state of near-collapse.

Following substantial investments, the company now has over 20,000 planted hectares and three functioning mills, making it one of the largest palm oil businesses in Africa.

The produce is entirely consumed within the DRC which is historically a strong consumer and producer of palm oil. It is now a substantial net importer.

Our investment

In late 2013, CDC invested $18.1 million in Feronia to support the revival of the existing plantation business that provided thousands of direct jobs and social infrastructure for tens of thousands of people in some of DRC’s remotest communities. A sum of $3.6 million was ring-fenced for an environmental and social governance loan.

Our funding mobilised further investment from other European DFIs, including Germany’s DEG, The Netherlands’ FMO and Belgium’s BIO.

We have made a number of additional investments into Feronia over the years and now own 38 per cent of the company.

Expected impact

The company is the only source of livelihoods for thousands of families in some of the most remote parts of the DRC, one of the world’s poorest countries with a population of approximately 80 million people.

Since CDC’s investment, the company has negotiated with its trade unions to establish a new collective agreement for worker pay and conditions for the first time in decades. It has substantially increased worker salaries while committing to safeguard jobs.

Feronia provides substantial social services to local communities, running four hospitals with over 500 beds – in which 3,500 babies were safely delivered in 2017.

It also drilled boreholes to provide safe drinking water, and established community development programmes to provide livelihoods for non-workers.

This is just the start of the company's long-term plans to deliver transformational impact.

Environmental and social aspects

CDC has worked closely with Feronia’s management to develop and implement better environmental and social (E&S) practices since it invested in the company in 2013. In particular, CDC ringfenced a $3.6 million E&S loan for urgent social infrastructure (including healthcare, water boreholes and housing) as well as improvements in health and safety and labour practices. Since then, a further $4.8 million has been spent on E&S activities.

In addition to the social infrastructure, much has been done to develop an understanding of the current environmental and social pressures in and around the plantations. Feronia is committed to zero deforestation and will replant historical palm oil plantation areas, which will avoid clearance of remaining forest adjacent to the plantations.

Key facts

Status:
Active
Region

Since 2012, we’ve only invested in Africa and South Asia. Investments outside these regions are from our pre-2012 portfolio.

:
Africa, Central Africa
Countries:
Democratic Republic of Congo
Sector

We have seven priority sectors. However, we continue to invest outside these sectors, largely in the most challenging regions, as new investment supporting any sector helps to underpin the private sector, and create jobs and livelihoods for people.

:
Food and agriculture
Website:
http://www.feronia.com/
Investment type

We provide capital in three broad ways: direct equity, debt, and intermediated equity (principally through investment funds).

:
Direct Equity
Start date

For direct investments, this is the date CDC committed capital to the business or project.

For funds, this is the date that CDC committed capital to the fund.

For underlying fund investments, this is the date that the fund invested capital into the business.e

:
November 2013
Amount

For direct investments, this is the total amount that CDC has committed to the business or project (it may be a combination of equity and debt).

For funds, this is the total amount that CDC has committed to the fund.

:
$25.2m
Domicile

This is the investee company’s place of incorporation; or a fund’s jurisdiction.

:
Canada