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Franchisee for several US fast food chains sells majority stake to grow, expand

Terrence Campbell.

SEAF Caribbean SME Growth Fund has acquired a majority ownership interest in Camex Restaurants Inc. in Guyana, which will enable the fast food restaurant franchisee to push its growth and expansion plans.

The transaction will be completed over the coming week.

Camex Restaurants Inc. is Guyana’s largest restaurant operator boasting some 28 franchise/locations spread across Guyana with five, brands including Church’s Chicken, Dairy Queen, Pollo Tropical, Mario’s Pizza and Quiznos.

Founded in 2006, Camex has grown from strength to strength employing at its peak a staff complement of over 380 team members of which approximately 80% are women. It is recognized as a good corporate citizen and has developed a reputation for delivering service and quality products that Guyanese love.

Having established presence in Guyana at a strident pace, its founder Terrence Campbell felt that it was time to bring in an international partner to drive through the next phase of growth.

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 D.C. which provides growth capital and business assistance to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in emerging and transition markets, underserved by traditional sources of capital.

Through their network in 31 countries around the world, they invest in entrepreneurs to seek to build successful businesses, with the view to realize both attractive returns for their investors, and a measurable development impact in local communities and positive contribution to the economies of the countries in which SEAF invests.

SEAF’s investment in Camex Restaurants Inc. was directed by its Sr. Managing Director Latin America & Caribbean Mr. Kurt
M.A. Kisto and led by the SEAF Caribbean Fund Managing Director Mr. Leo Williams, supported by SEAF’s VP Jamal Abisourour. The team had to rise to the unprecedented challenge of completing almost the entire deal cycle during the Covid-19 travel and other operational restrictions. The combined team thanks Terrence Campbell and the talented senior management staff at Camex, for their dedication and
support in driving the transaction to this point and wishes to add special thanks to our external advisors. Terrence Campbell, of Camex Restaurants, expressed his delight at the conclusion of the process.

Mr. Campbell said that “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”.

Mr. Campbell will remain very actively involved in the business as Executive Director and Ms. Lisa Insanally will assume the role of Chief Operating Officer. Lisa was only last week recognized at Church’s Chicken annual global conference held virtually this year, with a STAR (Service, Teamwork, Attitude, Respect) recognition award.

According to Lisa “2020 has been a year full of unprecedented challenges. It is heartening to know that even at these trying times, that there are investors who continue to see the growth and potential in Guyana. Our team at Camex Restaurants Inc. welcomes SEAF to Guyana and warmly to our Camex family. We stand together in full support of our shared vision for expansion of our company, which will certainly help to develop communities and continue to provide employment opportunities throughout Guyana and beyond.”

The new Board of Camex Restaurants Inc. will be Chaired by Mr. Kisto and comprise Directors Terrence 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 Mr. 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.”

Mr. Kisto, no stranger to Guyana, is very enthusiastic with the growth opportunity and excited to return and play a role in developing Guyanese business, helping them to take advantage of the country’s growth potential. “As a former Executive Director for the Caribbean at the Inter-American Development Bank, I have always noted the need for private equity capital as an essential asset class to help
businesses grow and expand; private equity brings patient capital as well as expertise to drive growth and expansion in fast growing economies such as Guyana; and is also critically important for the rest of the Caricom region, as part of a necessary tool kit of financial assets required to assist businesses, especially in post Covid-19 recovery for re-establishing a path to growth.”

SEAF is proud to have established the SEAF Caribbean SME Growth Fund, and to be able to play a catalytic role through making available private equity, accompanied with expertise to facilitate the growth and expansion of small and medium-sized enterprises in Caricom.
SEAF is a member of AMCHAM Guyana.