Years ahead of the game, James Tounkara, one of Africa’s youngest and most enterprising investment professionals, was at the forefront of the transformation of the African private equity landscape. Through past ventures and current deals, James has proven himself to be a reliable and knowledgeable resource for those looking to invest in Africa’s increasingly competitive market.
Backed by an expert team of Africa and wider market specialists, James Tounkara established Gajah Investment Group (GIG) in 2015 to advise a number of highly innovative African companies, which simply lacked capital, to drive forward in the thriving African investment landscape.
For over a decade, James has specialised in identifying investment opportunities across Africa. He has built a reputation for his vast experience with proven ability across asset classes, positioning him as an enterprising pioneer for those looking to safely invest in Africa.
James is impeccably well travelled and through his years of spending much of his time on the ground dealing with local realities, James has established relationships with influencers and leaders on the African continent.
Recognised for his personal approach and successful history of dealing with some of the largest private equity funds in the world, James has opened multiple doors with leaders in Africa and with investors globally.
James has demonstrated experience as a deal maker in Africa and recent high profile ventures include spearheading a mining project now listed on the London Stock Exchange. Another mining project was initiated in March 2016 when GIG signed an agreement with the Guinean Government and the state mining company, thus making GIG a holder of the BHP Boffa South block, containing 9 billion tons of bauxite. The project, valued at $7.95bn USD will start production in 2017.
James proved himself early on in his investment management career when in 2010, he joined Swiss boutique investment group Geneva Management Group’s West Africa outfit as Managing Director. In his role, James fast became the African investment expert; securing mining, energy, gaming and agriculture contracts whilst making valuable contacts along the way.
Proving himself to be a serial entrepreneur, alongside his mentor, Chairman of GMG, Dave Elzas, James set up a luxury distribution company in Belgium as well as a diamond trading company in Antwerp. These ventures exposed him to the burgeoning investment opportunities in Africa and eventually his experience and skills were honed enough that the time came to set up his own company to focus on expanding African businesses.
As emerging markets witness a boom and bust, frontier markets, in particular Africa, flourish in the right hands. With African private equity funds alone producing deals with a total value exceeding $21billion in the last 5 years, James saw a gap in the market.
In 2015 James co-Founded a bespoke African private equity company, Gajah Investment Group with the Dubai based family office Bhansali Equities, which has extensive background in real estate and acquisitions. In just over a year, GIG has set its financial footprint across key territories in Africa.
Gajah Investment Group was established to take advantage of this booming market and whilst obstacles are high, returns are also and the increasing arrival of large international funds is a clear sign of confidence in private equity in Africa. James’ main focus at Gajah Investment Group is on de-risking and developing a portfolio of high return and high value projects across Africa.
As a thought leader in this sector, James is an expert on the growth of mutualised mining, issues with neo colonialism and its effect on African investing as well as the rise of boutique investment firms in the region. James is also well versed on discussing the attractiveness and obstacles of investing in Africa, expected drivers of return as well as preferred investment vehicles.
Speaking on what makes GIG a success, CEO, James Tounkara says: ‘Our highly experienced team and ability to identify previously missed opportunities in Africa’s increasingly lucrative market, has resulted in us succeeding where many others have failed before. As interest from institutional investors continues to gain traction, African investment opportunities are opening up and we have been, and will continue to be at the forefront of these’.