1. You are in the early stages of raising money for your new fund, the
Our strategy is to buy and build. Most investments will be in Colombia, which is a very attractive place to invest. Valuations are not as high as they are in Brazil. We focus on five sectors: health care, natural resources like oil and mining, infrastructure operations, power generation and consumer goods and services. We are looking to raise $750 million. Raising money outside Colombia is new territory for us, but we’re comfortable with our target. We’re talking with placement agents who say our goal is reasonable given our track record. We hope to raise at least $500 million outside Colombia.
2. You already have a good idea of what you’re going to invest in with the new fund. Does this help you raise money?
Generally, we have a large portion of our funds earmarked for specific acquisitions that we have in mind. Our limited partners have a good understanding that they are investing in sectors that they have invested in before. Our previous funds have been fully invested way before the investment period ends.
3. When some Americans think of Colombia, they think cocaine and corruption. What will you tell investors who are worried about such things?
Some people are still concerned, but I tell them Colombia is the fastest growing and most stable country in Latin America with the possible exception of Chile. For the investment community, Colombia is no longer a secret. When I see institutional investors pouring into the country, it’s clear the word is out. Colombia also has free trade agreements with most of its neighbors. All of this is creating economic momentum in Colombia.
4. You were born in the Congo, in Africa, and now you manage a financial firm in Colombia, in South America. What has led you from point A to point B?
Well, I was born and raised in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I left the country to study engineering in Brussels, then did an MBA in Switzerland. I started my career working for multinationals, like Caterpillar, ING and Philip Morris. During that time, I managed to live and work in 11 countries and now speak six languages. When I arrived in Colombia, I was shocked by the information gap. There was a stark difference between the perception outside the country and the reality inside. What I discovered was one of the most vibrant places in all of Latin America, not only economically, but intellectually. The entrepreneurial spirit in Colombia is fantastic.
5. So now you’ve lived in Colombia for eight years. Do you feel rooted in your life and job?
Yes. My family is established in Colombia. This is the place we call home.