Our History

Active for nearly thirty years, SEAF has experience in the Impact Investing space that is amongst the deepest in the industry. SEAF began in 1989 as the CARE Small Business Assistance Corporation (CARESBAC), a single member NGO owned by CARE, the international relief and development organization. At the time of CARESBAC’s launch, the international developmental community had begun to recognize the growing importance of the private sector in achieving economic growth, both in developing countries and in the transition countries following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Governments, international development institutions, and commercial investors alike turned to growing SMEs to seek to achieve prosperity and political and economic stability. In the case of many transition countries, large corporations were state-owned and required privatization, resulting in large-scale unemployment. A healthy SME sector was considered vital to both provide for the needs of consumers, as well as to generate a robust boost in employment. In 1992, we launched our first fund in Poland, CARESBAC-Polska. We have since expanded throughout Central and Eastern Europe and into Africa, Asia and Latin America.

In 1995, CARESBAC spun out of CARE to become the Small Enterprise Assistance Funds (SEAF). Incorporated as a New York not-for-profit with a specific mission to engage in investment activity in emerging markets and manage for-profit investment vehicles that target businesses operating in under served communities, SEAF grew rapidly following our inception. In 2005, we expanded the SEAF family by creating the Center for Entrepreneurship and Executive Development (CEED). CEED centers provide essential business development training and peer-to-peer learning to entrepreneurs in emerging markets to help them grow their businesses profitably and in a sustainable manner.

As of December 31, 2017, SEAF has made more than 400 risk capital investments through 35 investment vehicles, with three additional funds raised and entering the investment period. Our experience and growth have prompted us to augment our country-based investment model, and in 2009 and 2010, we launched two global SME investment facilities, followed by a global investment platform in 2015. These facilities enable us to continue relationships with portfolio companies and maintain our expert local leadership beyond the investment term of our individual country and regional investment vehicles. In doing so, we and our partners are laying the groundwork for an innovative financing structures to leverage the global network we have built over the years and providing growth capital on a more efficient basis for both SMEs and our partners.