Oct 18, 2018

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Staff Profile – Priyansh Dhawan, Senior Investment Associate

When did you join Arise and what was your motivation for taking up this position?

I joined Arise as a Senior Investment Associate on 1 February 2017. Prior to Arise, during my tenure as a Credit Risk Analyst covering Financial Institutions (FIs) across Sub-Saharan Africa, I had the opportunity to gain insight on the various factors driving Africa’s growth story. While this experience fostered my interest in the ongoing activity and growth potential of FIs in Africa, it also strengthened my resolve to develop my career on the continent with an investor that sought to grow FIs in a responsible manner.

At Arise, I saw the opportunity to seamlessly blend my experience in the FI space in Sub-Saharan Africa with my ambitions to grow into the role of an investment professional focused on the African continent.

Second, building a career at Arise offered me the opportunity to work with highly driven and astute professionals, who not only had an array of experiences in working with FIs in Africa, but also have a genuine passion and commitment to contribute to Africa’s growth story.

Finally, the most appealing aspect of joining Arise was our company’s value proposition to affect change on the continent by addressing the one critical barrier faced by Africa’s entrepreneurs and small & medium enterprises, that being access to finance. In this regard, I believe we have a responsible mandate and the requisite backing to successfully bridge this gap.

What aspect of your job do you most enjoy?

In my experience at Arise thus far, I have come to realise that given the uncertainties and complexities we deal with daily, one cannot simply rely on a formulaic approach in arriving at a solution. Rather, the process of overcoming a challenging situation is a very deliberate one that forces one to draw from analytical, personal, ethical, and cultural, aspects of one’s professional experience to achieve the most optimal outcome, be it for putting in a winning bid for an asset, overcoming a corporate governance gridlock or developing foresight on the performance of our investees.

What have your top 3 highlights been?

Being part of the Mercantile Bank project team – within a tight deadline, we were able to submit a binding offer for the purchase of 100% of Mercantile Bank in South Africa. Although we still await a final announcement about the preferred bidder, the opportunity to be at the forefront of navigating the various nuances associated with the transaction was a highly rewarding experience.

Engaging with management of our investee companies – Whether it is hearing Dr. James Mwangi talk about how Equity Bank’s new Fintech company is set to change the competitive landscape of banking in Kenya or how NMB (Zimbabwe) navigates one of the toughest economic environment’s in Africa, I’m all at once intellectually stimulated and humbled to work with first in class banking professionals and develop insight on how they adapt to challenging and often volatile circumstances in their respective countries.

Arise 2018 Annual Conference – Arise’s most recent annual conference was somewhat of a masterclass that propagated our investees to think critically about how the ongoing transformations in the global banking industry would impact their banks, and more importantly, how we as investors should conceptualise trends in fintech, cryptocurrency and blockchain in understanding the future of banking. I believe Arise’s next conference promises to be an equally rewarding engagement. Watch this space!

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?

One of my key learnings at Arise is that as investors, we rely on obtaining the right information that not only assists us in shaping our opinion on where our banks are headed, but also enables us to optimize our banks’ performance. However, as responsible investors, we also understand the importance of adhering to regulation that governs the information we obtain. Therefore, the process of creating rapport with our investees that enables us to obtain correct information, whilst not compromising our values as a responsible investor is a delicate balance that I have come to appreciate.

Sum up Arise in one sentence

A responsible investor with a long-term commitment to making a difference and affecting change. 

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