Commercial investment initiatives

The third funding stream of our International Development Fund (IDF) is focused on engaging the Scottish financial community with our African partners, to encourage foreign direct investment in Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda and to promote good governance in investment, banking and finance.

In October 2016 the Minister for International Development announced that we would invest £1 million from the IDF in Malawian businesses, over a three-year period. This is being match-funded by private investors based in Scotland to provide a total business investment of £2 million for Malawi.

The Malawi Investment Initiative is intended to begin moving Malawi away from reliance on aid (which will still remain important for the foreseeable future) and towards a self-sustaining economy supported by trade and investment.

To successfully secure a portion of this investment, business ventures will need to have a positive social impact, through creating jobs and sustainable livelihoods, as well as financial return.

Management of the funds: African Lakes Company Ltd

The investment is managed by a new Scottish company, African Lakes Company Ltd (ALC), reviving the original African Lakes Company that was established in Glasgow in 1878 to develop trade as an effective way of displacing slavery in Malawi.

ALC has a small board of directors drawn from the investors, and an experienced investment panel made up of private investors and expert advisers. The investment panel will determine investments after considering advice from their appointed Malawian investment advisers.

Edinburgh-based JB Equity Partners are acting as advisers on sustainable investment in food production, by drawing on their experience of consulting and raising equity investment for African agriculture businesses.


ALC is adopting the UN Principles for Responsible Investors. It will be made clear that ALC will not pay and does not condone the payment or receipt of bribes or any other form of corrupt or informal payment.

All recipients of investment from ALC will have to comply with an internal Investment Policy covering good corporate governance, living wage for employees, non-discrimination, no child labour, and so on. They will be expected to pay their fair share of tax to the Malawi Revenue Authority.


The first investment into a company in Malawi was announced in September 2018 when ALC invested £38,000 in the Lake Malawi Aquaculture Project to design an innovative cage based aquaculture operation based on indigenous species for the local and regional market. This investment will help reduce poverty by creating high quality jobs in a rural area and provide new opportunities for smallholders and traders. 

Read the news story: Investing in the Malawian economy

A follow-on commitment to invest was subsequently made in Lake Malawi Aquaculture in early 2019, with £400,000 of Scottish Government funding being matched by new private investors from Norway and Scotland, providing a total additional £800,000 investment.

Overall, the blend of expertise in the initiative, drawn from across the four countries of Malawi, Norway, Kenya and Scotland, will deliver a large-scale project which ALC is convinced has very significant potential for nutritional, economic, and developmental impact

Further investments by ALC

Further investments are currently being considered and will be announced in due course.

Please note that our commercial investment funding stream for Malawi via ALC is not managed in the same way as its development assistance grants, which are via a Scottish partner.

Under the ALC investment route, the investment is made direct into the Malawian company - after due diligence has been carried out and the ALC’s investment panel has determined whether to invest (after considering advice from their appointed Malawian investment advisers).

This encourages a direct relationship between the investors and the Malawian company right from the start, the company in which any investment would be made direct. ALC will consider companies in our partner countries seeking commercial investment, and companies are welcome to approach ALC direct.


Contact ALC by emailing managing director Robert Anderson at

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