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SEAF Caribbean SME Growth Fund Acquires Majority Stake in Guyanese Restaurant Operator Camex Restaurants

30 September 2020

SEAF Carribean SME Growth Fund has acquired a majority stake in Guyana-based restaurant operator Camex Restaurants. 

(Stabroek News) Camex Restaurants Inc, operator of the Church’s Chicken and Dairy Queen franchises among others has announced a partnership with a regional private equity fund to expand the company’s operations here in Guyana and across the Caribbean.

A joint release from Camex Restaurants Inc and SEAF Caribbean SME Growth Fund yesterday stated that SEAF Caribbean SME Growth Fund has acquired a majority ownership interest in Camex Restaurants Inc in Guyana. The transaction is to be completed over the coming week and will enable the fast food restaurant franchisee to push its growth and expansion plans.

Founded in 2006, the release said that Camex Restaurants Inc is Guyana’s largest restaurant operator with 28 franchise/locations spread across Guyana with five brands including Church’s Chicken, Dairy Queen, Pollo Tropical, Mario’s Pizza and Quiznos. After having established a presence here in Guyana, its founder, Terrence Campbell, felt that it was time to bring in an international partner to drive through the next phase of growth.

According to the release, the investment in Camex is the first for the SEAF Fund which was launched last October with its regional office in Kingston, Jamaica. With this new partnership, Camex plans to develop and add new brands to its portfolio, whilst simultaneously expanding operations across the Caricom region.

The SEAF Caribbean SME Growth Fund, is a private equity fund which invests growth capital in fast growing small and medium-sized enterprises throughout the countries of the Caribbean Common Market (Caricom). SEAF is an investment management group headquartered in Washington DC which provides growth capital and business assistance to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in emerging and transition markets, underserved by traditional sources of capital. The fund is also a member of AMCHAM Guyana.

SEAF’s investment in Camex Restaurants Inc was directed by its Senior Managing Director Latin America & Caribbean Kurt Kisto and led by the SEAF Caribbean Fund Managing Director Leo Williams, supported by SEAF’s VP Jamal Abisourour. The deal proved to be quite challenging since it was forced to contend with the ongoing pandemic and its attendant travel and operational restrictions, the release said. Campbell expressed his pleasure at the conclusion of the process. “From the initial discussion to the closing, SEAF executives operated with utmost good faith and made me comfortable that the company I built and, most importantly, the employees, are in safe hands.”

Campbell will remain very actively involved in the business as Executive Director and Lisa Insanally will assume the role of Chief Operating Officer. The new Board of Camex Restaurants Inc will be chaired by Kisto and comprise Directors Campbell, Jennifer Cipriani, Leo Williams, Floyd Haynes and Zulfikar Ally.

Leo Williams, the Fund’s Managing Director noted, “As this is our inaugural investment in the Fund, it represents the confidence that we have in both the growth prospects of Guyana and the team at Camex, led by Campbell. Our collective experience in business and within the region will allow us to do great things locally and abroad. We have built an exciting and robust pipeline of opportunities in Guyana and in the Caricom Region and look forward to making more investments soon. Importantly we are excited in driving a shared vision and collaborative growth with Terrence, the management and staff of Camex.” Kisto, who is no stranger to Guyana, is very enthusiastic with the growth opportunity and excited to return and play a role in developing Guyanese business.

SEAF is proud to be able to facilitate the growth and expansion of small and medium-sized enterprises in Caricom, the release added.