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Jean Craven

Founder | Mad Swimmer

Jean, founding partner of Barak, manager to Africa’s largest structured commodity trade finance fund, has almost 2 decades of experience in building and managing commodity trading businesses at leading South African financial institutions. His tenure at Barak has seen steady growth in demand for such funding, yielding niche strategies, which has recently seen the AUM double in about a year, swiftly approaching the USD 1 billion mark. With the fund manager’s track record a-quarter shy of 10 years, Barak’s fund offerings have organically spawned a range of debt funds diversifying along the yield curve, catering to the deficit in growth funding on the continent whilst providing SMEs in Africa a real alternative.

His commodities business was one of the first active participants in the South African Commodity Futures Exchange and Jean served on the South African Futures Exchange advisory panel for many years.

Prior to founding Barak, Jean built and led a new team at Standard Bank that covered structured commodity finance, physical and derivative trading as well as agricultural and bio-fuel project finance. Previously, Jean worked for Rand Merchant Bank (part of the First Rand Group) heading up a team that completed the first successful USD 1 billion grain securitisation in the world. This same team also set up the third largest crop insurance company in Africa to mitigate weather risk on farmer production loans for the First Rand Retail Bank. Jean holds an accounting degree from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.

Jean is married to Christine who heads up private bank credit at Investec. They have two daughters Gabbi aged 13 and Bella aged 2.5 years old.

A special address will be made at The Annual Debate Gala Dinner by Jean Craven on behalf of Madswimmer, a charity involved with daring swimming challenges to raise funds for children’s charities. “By risking our lives we are investing everything. If we don’t, how can we expect sponsors to invest? Facing threats might mean we’re mad but we have to be even madder not to care”.

Prepare to be inspired. 

Jean has recently completed 2 x first attempt swim viz the Antarctica swim the False Bay crossing and accomplished this great feat!