GREAT ideas are often born by chance. It’s certainly true of One Thousand & One Voices (1K1V), a unique investment fund focused on Africa.

1K1V’s genesis took place after just one meeting between Hendrik Jordaan and John Coors of US beer brewing family fame. “It took just two minutes to become crystal clear to me that we had to bring wealthy families together to be transformational in Africa.”

Jordaan, who was born in Klerksdorp, set about the task in 2013, establishing 1K1V, which he heads as president and CE. At his disposal was experience gained over 16 years in corporate law in the US, where he had been global chairman of the private equity and buyouts practice of Morrison & Foerster, one of the world’s largest law firms.

Jordaan mustered the support of 30 of the world’s wealthiest families, raising US$300m to start 1K1V. “They all have great family businesses that share our values,” he says. “They are proud of doing business the right way and believe they can do more together than on their own.”

As for the fund’s intriguing name, he says: “For us it means the voices of businesses and communities we invest in and those of our investing families.”

Only three families agreed to be identified. Two found their way onto Forbes’ 2015 list of the wealthiest US families. In 71st position with a net worth of $4bn is the Coors family. In 129th position with a net worth of $2bn is the Belk family, which made its fortune out of a department store chain.

For Jordaan it has been an interesting journey into the world of high-powered private investment. It began when his skill as a tennis player came to the fore after he matriculated at Hilton College in KwaZulu Natal.

“In 1989 I was offered a tennis scholarship by the Southern Methodist University in Texas,” he says. He went on to captain the university tennis team and receive BSc and legal degrees.

Jordaan has earned himself a place of honour in the US legal system. Highlights of his career include serving as chairman of the distressed mergers & acquisitions (M&A) task force of the American Bar Association’s M&A committee, which has 3,000 members in 40 countries.

He is applying himself with equal vigour to 1K1V. “We are looking for companies we can help grow by applying our three-dimensional capital model,” says Jordaan.

The model’s first two components are the intellectual capital 1K1V’s investors will share with businesses and the business connections they can provide.

The third component is taking a very long-term view.

Unlike conventional private equity firms, where the average holding period of an asset is about five years, 1K1V’s time horizon could stretch to 20 years. “You can make better decisions when you take a long-term view,” says Jordaan.

1K1V targets investments of $10m-$40m and has made two so far. Both are in SA firms: RedSun, a raisin producer, and Beefmaster, SA’s biggest beef exporter. “Both are low-risk with huge potential.”

On board since February 2015, RedSun is already enjoying benefits of the partnership. “We have introduced them to agri-business families who are helping them to grow their distribution in the US,” says Jordaan.

More investments are coming; a deal in Kenya is close to finality.

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