CardinalStone Capital Advisers Exits its Maiden Investment- i-Fitness Centre Limited

CardinalStone Capital Advisers Exits its Maiden Investment- i-Fitness Centre Limited

Lagos, 21 February 2024 — CardinalStone Capital Advisers (“CCA”), a West Africa focused private equity firm, is pleased to announce that its CardinalStone Capital Advisers Growth Fund (“CCAGF”) has successfully sold its stake in i-Fitness Nigeria Limited (“i-Fitness”), to Verod Capital Management Limited (“Verod”).

Established in 2015 with the vision of making high quality fitness fun and affordable, i-Fitness is a health and wellness brand that operates a chain of low-cost, big-box gyms across Nigeria.

CCA partnered with Foluso Ogunwale, the founder of i-Fitness, in 2019, at which point the business was serving under 3,000 subscribers, with approximately 50 employees across 5 locations; all along the Lekki axis of Lagos, Nigeria. Today, the business serves over 26,000 active subscribers, and has over 500 employees across 21 locations in 4 cities in Nigeria — making i-Fitness West Africa’s leading and fastest-growing fitness chain.

As the first institutional investor in i-Fitness, beyond its capital commitment, CCA played a significant role in advancing ESG standards, upgrading the systems, governance structures and institutional framework that prepared the business for the over 10x growth experienced over the past 4 years, culminating in CCA’s exit to a seasoned financial investor.  Such initiatives, validate CCA’s strategy of hands-on approach to investing in and growing businesses.

Foluso Ogunwale, CEO of i-Fitness while speaking on the exit said, “With CCA, we did not only build a business that is now leading the fitness industry in West Africa, we built a friendship, stayed laser-focused on achieving set objectives and worked together through good and hard times. Ten weeks into our partnership, we shut down operations for 6-months due to COVID-19. We lost a significant amount of money but still kept our growth mindset intact. Promoting fitness and having the opportunity to touch many thousands of lives gives us a true sense of fulfilment.”

On the exit, Yomi Jemibewon, Partner at CCA commented: “This has been an extremely exciting and rewarding journey for us at CCA.  From believing in and supporting Foluso’s vision when others wouldn’t; to weathering the storm of a 6-month Covid-19 shut-down only 3 months after investing; and then exceeding our growth and impact objectives 12 months ahead of schedule.  We are pleased to be exiting to a trusted financial investor that is committed to carrying on the journey we started with Foluso.  This story exemplifies the role we set out to play with the CCA Growth Fund, in developing SMEs in our markets into industry leaders with transformational impact at scale.”

i-Fitness was CCAGF’s first investment and represents its first full exit – a milestone that proves CCA’s ability to successfully source, scale and exit businesses in what has proven to be a tough market for private equity. CCA is excited to see i-Fitness’s continued success in the West African wellness space.

Rand Merchant Bank Nigeria Limited (RMB) and CardinalStone Partners Limited (CSP) acted as joint financial advisors, and Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie (UUBO) acted as legal counsel to the seller on the transaction.

About CCA

CardinalStone Capital Advisers (“CCA”) is a West Africa focused private equity investor with offices in Lagos and Accra. CCA invests in high-potential companies across Nigeria and Ghana, partnering with entrepreneurs to support their development towards becoming regional champions.  CCA is an active investor, with a team equipped to take a meaningful role in supporting the growth agenda of our portfolio companies. CCA is at the tail end of deploying CCAGF and is currently fundraising for a successor Fund, CCAGF II.

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