Former PPC Cement head Ketso Gordhan has been announced as the new CEO of the SA SME Fund.
The announcement that Gordhan will take the helm of the fund – which has yet to start lending to small businesses two years after it was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa when he was then deputy president – was made in a press release by Discovery Health.
Discovery Health head of mergers and acquisitions Lisa Klein had been tasked by Discovery Health CEO Adrian Gore, to find a new CEO. Using commitments by large listed companies, the R1.5-billion fund will put money into private funds that will then lend to small companies.
Gordhan – a former anti-apartheid activist – has previously served as the head of private equity at FirstRand for almost a decade. He has also managed a personal impact investment portfolio with a focus on education in SA and Rwanda and has served as Africa advisor to the Omidyar Network.
He has also served as head of Africa for the Commonwealth Development Corporation, was also the first post-apartheid director general in the Ministry of Transport and served as the city manager for the City of Johannesburg in 1999 and 2000. Adrian Gore, Chairman of the SA SME Fund Board said Gordhan held a “deep-seated knowledge” of and a breadth of experience in many spheres of investing.
“He also has a profound understanding of how best to execute public private partnerships. Ketso is passionate about social change, and as the board we are very excited about the energy he will bring to Phase 2 of the Fund,” he said. In June Klein conceded that the fund had “probably moved a bit too slowly”, but pointed out that with all governance and systems now in place the fund could move forward more aggressively.
She confirmed that the fund had so far signed up three funds in which it would invest, that then lend or invest in small businesses. The names of the three would be announced in the coming months, she added. In the statement Gordhan said he will focus on the fund’s broad objective of creating and growing mainly black entrepreneurs. This will be done via co-investments in SMEs and gazelles, entrepreneur-led early stage businesses, and social impact investments.