Advising Africa on Africa: ACT Afrique

We spoke with Fabrice Nze-Bekale, the Managing Director of Africa Consulting and Trading Group (ACT), a boutique investment banking and advisory firm based in Senegal.

Fabrice, please tell us about the history of ACT.

ACT was created eight years ago by our founder and CEO, Ibrahima Cheikh Diong. After working with the Senegalese government and with large finance and nonprofit organizations, he believed that Africans have the ability to advise organizations in Africa to succeed and make a difference. I joined ACT as Managing Director after a successful career in investment banking in London and a government position in Gabon because I also share this belief and today, we are among the most impactful African-owned advisory firms.

What services does ACT offer?

We operate in three business segments: investment banking services, strategic consulting, and communications. As financial advisors, we help our clients raise debt or equity financing to grow their operations and expand into new markets. We also facilitate M&A transactions, private placements and corporate restructuring. Our strategic consultants help organizations drive innovation and achieve change in industries ranging from energy to education, agribusiness to international development.

ACT’s wholly-owned communications subsidiary was born out of the evident necessity to help African governments and institutions market their vision and projects to identify the most suitable partners in Africa.

What sets ACT apart from the global consulting firms?

Two things: local presence and our passion for Africa. ACT is African-focused. We are based in Africa, we operate in Africa and we understand the continent quite well. This enables us to focus on each situation that clients approach us with, instead of frameworks which may not be adapted to particular contexts.

Also, we’re deeply committed to changing the narrative of Africa and supporting the organizations and people who adhere to this mission. That’s why at ACT, we approach all projects with the purpose to achieve impactful results. Whether we’re helping a microfinance institution to raise funds or implementing programs for an international NGO, we remain focused on impactful results.

How has ACT fared in market?

Quite well, I’d say. In the beginning, we struggled to convince clients that Africans are the advisors of the future on the continent. However, the success of the partnership with our first clients has helped us to build momentum. Today, organisations understand the importance of working with an established local advisory firm in Africa that operates with international standards. Our client portfolio includes SMEs, African states, multinationals and NGOs. They’ve valued our depth of understanding of the African context and the level of the due diligence that we undertake in all transactions to ensure that the core values of all parties are aligned.

Any last words for our readers?

For nearly eight years now at ACT, we have been proving that the most effective way for investors, organizations, and other change-makers to conduct activities in Africa is to partner with advisory firms that have the global expertise and a local presence. This strategy has proven successful for our partners and the firm and as an evidence of the winning strategy, ACT opened a second office in Abidjan.

While our growth has been an amazing journey for our partners and us, we strongly believe that there’s more room to grow. That’s why we’re constantly investing in our human capital and improving our processes to continue to help our clients obtain impactful results.

ACT provides fundraising and strategic advisory services to clients in the public and private sectors in Africa. In his prior life, Fabrice was a corporate executive with a wealth of experience in the finance, telecom, and mining sectors. He is an MBA graduate of the London Business School.