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GroFin - Transforming SGBs in Africa & the Middle East

Posted By Shailen Neewoor, GroFin, Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2018

Gain a deeper understanding of how GroFin, through its unique investment model in SGBs, is positively transforming small and growing businesses and the local communities they support. The inspiring success stories of its entrepreneurs exemplify the collaborative efforts of GroFin staff, investors, partners and clients. The 2017 GroFin Impact Report, Nomou Impact Report and Aspire Impact Report translates its faith in the power of the collective by asking the question “If not us, who? If not today, when? If not with our finance and support, how will these small businesses grow and succeed?”

2017 GroFin Impact Report

As at end 2017, GroFin has financed 675 small and growing businesses, supported 8,840 entrepreneurs, sustained a total of 86,190 jobs and touched the lives of 430,955 family members in the local communities across our 15 locations of operation in Africa and the Middle East. The report indicates that GroFin has made more investments in its priority sectors of education, healthcare, agribusiness, manufacturing and key services. Furthermore, GroFin invested US$ 60M in nearly 88 new small and growing businesses, with over 50% of the SMEs operating directly in our sectors of focus, sustaining 14,000 total jobs and supporting an additional 72,000 livelihoods. And to reinforce its value proposition of providing 'support beyond finance' the company introduced the GroFin STEP (Success through Effective Partnerships) Programme to support its SMEs and Entrepreneurs.

2017 Nomou Impact Report

The Nomou Programme is a regional initiative in MENA which was co-created by GroFin and Shell Foundation. As a result of the collaborative efforts of its investors, partners and clients, the Nomou programme is contributing to the alleviation of poverty and improvement of livelihoods in the communities where the programme operates, as well as striving to reduce the adverse impact of the humanitarian crisis in the region.

In 2017, the Nomou Programme supported 1,005 entrepreneurs, made investments into 103 SGBs, sustained a total of 10,287 jobs, touched the lives of 51,435 beneficiaries and added economic value of US$ 149 million per annum through its investee SMEs across Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Oman.

2017 Aspire Impact Report

Since their inception in 2014, the Aspire Small Business Fund (ASBF) and the Aspire Growth Fund (AGF) have sought to promote local entrepreneurship, employment and economic value-add in the Niger Delta. With the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) as anchor investor, the Aspire Enterprise Development Funds epitomise GroFin, a private development finance institution, and SPDC’s efforts to serve the local community with a combination of investment funds, business skills and market linkages.

In 2017 GroFin increased its commitment to supporting SMEs in the Niger Delta Region by investing in an additional 17 small and growing businesses and extending further funding of US$ 2.5M (140% increase from total amount invested as at end 2016). As at end of 2017, GroFin has supported 365 businesses, invested in 53 SMEs and sustained a total of 1,975 jobs under the Aspire Funds.

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Tags:  2017  A Access to Finance  Access to Finance  Africa  Agriculture  ANDE Africa  ANDE Members  Base of the Pyramid  Business  business training  capacity development  DGGF  East Africa  education  finance  impact  impact investing  impact investing; gender lens investing; gender; w  impact investment  impact measurement  innovation  Investors  Kenya  MENA  missing middle  Philanthropy; impact investing  Private sector development  Rwanda  SDGs  SGB  SGBs  SGBs; accelerators; East Africa  SGBs; Environment; accelerators; energy  SGBs; West Africa; Senegal; Africa; MENA; Entrepre  small and growing agrobusiness  smes  social impact  South Africa  sustainability  sustainable development  Tanzania  Training  Uganda  West Africa 

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Three Powerful Tools for Fintech Practitioners

Posted By Jane Del Ser, Bankable Frontier Associates, Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, January 17, 2018

By David del Ser

(Watch our video)

Since we launched the Catalyst Fund in 2015, we have helped 15 fintech entrepreneurs deploy novel approaches to bring products and services to their customers. We have distilled the successful patterns and behaviors we have observed into toolkits and posts for those considering fintech methods for their businesses, whether they be startups or established players.


At a high level, successful fintech startups adopt principles of Design, Risk Management and Product Management, and also put modern technologies like smartphones, artificial intelligence and cloud computing at the core of their value propositions. At successful fintech startups Designers, Product Managers, CEOs and Engineers reinforce each other in multidisciplinary teams to explore the overlap between what customers find desirable, what engineers can build, and what the business requires to grow.

Design

The function of Design is to represent the voice of the customer at all times to make sure a company stays centered on what matters most. Design is not a one-off process. In the spirit of customer validation, designers keep tight feedback loops with customers throughout the product development process, from early prototypes to usability testing of new features.


Through user research (UX) techniques like online surveys and one-one-one interviews, designers invest heavily during initial stages in order to know their customers like the back of their hand; what are their problems and pain points, and how can their company help? In fact, designers segment customers into personas to allow the team to constantly keep in mind different user profiles and needs.


Aesthetics matter. Designers work hard to perfect a product’s UI and its look and feel, so it can live up to the high expectations created by WhatsApp or Google. But great design goes beyond just user research and visuals during early product design stages. Successful inclusive fintech startups map out the Customer Journey and Service Blueprint in detail to fully understand the perspective of the user each time they  interact with the company.


Ultimately, great design creates trust, that elusive quality that all startups are chasing and that distinguishes them from their competitors. We’ve captured our lessons for startups to build trust with their customers through their products or services in our Design for Trust Toolkit.


Product Management

But designers can’t work in isolation; they need someone to lead the orchestra - and that’s where a product manager comes in. The PM takes a big picture view and works to ensure that designers, engineers and marketers all work towards the same goal. Crucially, she makes sure the product or service goal is backed by data and evidence. She keeps the whole process nimble through quick agile iterations focused on the activities of users, from initial onboarding to the retention phase. For example, using A/B Testing and usage analytics she captures details of how each users is interacting with every screen to inform engagement.


The effective product manager is very focused on the key metrics for the business, such as customer lifetime value or acquisition costs. She also works hard to explore the best channels to find new customers, including viral referrals and social media. As an example, our portfolio company Destacame has seen lead acquisition costs dropping to less than $3 through these types of digital channels. We explore some of the different tools and frameworks to help startups focus as they chart their journey from idea, to minimum viable product (MVP) and growth in our upcoming product/market fit toolkit.

Modern Technologies

And finally, you can’t have good fintech without the “tech” that is enabling these new approaches.


Most important are the smartphones, which run fintech apps and also act as channels to find and interact with users. For instance, several of our startups use WhatsApp to offer customer support and drive virality, communicating with users in the way they prefer. Smartphones can also be used to generate and capture user data, which is particularly valuable when targeting low-income consumers who traditionally have been anonymous. In that vein, our portfolio company Smile Identity validates and authenticates customer identities using selfies taken on their phones.


In addition machine learning and other artificial intelligence systems can improve customer value propositions and to automate internal processes like credit scoring using data from smartphones and other new sources like satellites. As an example, our portfolio company ToGarantido is exploring chatbots for sales of their insurance policies and customer support. Harvesting is using satellite data to understand credit and insurance risk with just a GPS read. Worldcover doesn’t even need customers to file a claim as their satellite systems award them automatically.


And software engineering helped Escala and Paygo Energy to automate most of their back-office processes to be responsive to their customers. It is easier and more affordable than ever for startups to leverage affordable SaaS solutions to architect their systems. Likewise, cloud computing is also a powerful technology that offers simplicity, lower costs and flexibility. There is no need to commit capital to purchase hardware and the team requires less engineering talent to keep the servers going.

Conclusion

In our experience, companies that harness the powerful combination of design, product management and modern technologies create better and more tailored value propositions. That makes for happier customers, which is what makes businesses thrive. By driving more usage, the fintech triad can create more impact in low-income populations. And digital channels and automated processes can significantly lower costs of serving customers, allowing for expansion to new markets and reducing exclusion.


Learn more by joining us for our webinar on the Catalyst Fund toolkits during the ANDE Sector Update call in January. Register here.


Tags:  Acceleration  accelerator  accelerators  Africa  ANDE Africa  Base of the Pyramid  brazil  Business Models  capacity development  early stage ecosystem  emerging markets  entrepreneurship  finance  financial inclusion  fintech  Grants Rockefeller  impact investing  impact investment  inclusive innovation  India  India; ANDE members  innovation  Kenya  Latin America  mentoring  Mexico  SGBs; accelerators; East Africa  smaholder farmers  smes  social enterprise  social entrepreneurship  social innovation  webinar  West Africa 

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Innovation event in Nairobi

Posted By Meredith Ettridge, Royal Academy of Engineering, Monday, April 3, 2017
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4SwfFDxiz4

The 2017 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation final will take place at a celebratory evening event on 23 May. Finalists from a group of 16 talented entrepreneurs will pitch their projects to the audience and the judging panel during the event.

You will have the chance to vote for your favourite and see the winner be announced following the judges' final decision. More opportunities to network will follow as the event draws to a close.

Location: Radisson Blu, Nairobi, Kenya
Dates: May 23 2017
Registration is free: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/africa-innovates-tickets-32888087154#tickets

Contact: africaprize@raeng.org.uk

Tags:  Africa  Entrepreneurship  Events  innovation  Kenya 

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Partnerships to impact low-income markets in Kenya and East Africa

Posted By Chandrakant Komaragiri, Ennovent, Friday, June 3, 2016
Updated: Friday, June 3, 2016

Ennovent is seeking partners who work in sectors including Education, Healthcare, Agri-business, Finance, WASH,  Energy and others, who are interested in collaborating on business opportunities in Kenya. Partners can be individuals and organisations including consultants, development agencies, foundations, investors and corporations.


Benefits for partners will include the opportunity to collaborate with a diversified network, develop and implement innovation projects to address business opportunities, and build on knowledge and expertise on pertinent issues.


If you are interested in partnering with Ennovent, please fill out this short form, and we will be in touch with you.


We would also like to request you to share this exciting partnership opportunity widely in your network and help in making a sustainable impact in Kenya together.

Tags:  Africa  Agriculture  Base of the Pyramid  Creating Shared Value  East Africa  entrepreneurship ecosystems  inclusive innovation  Kenya  Private sector development  social innovation  sustainability  sustainable development 

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CrossBoundary Energy Fund I raises $8M - First dedicated fund for C&I solar in Africa

Posted By CrossBoundary, Monday, December 7, 2015

CrossBoundary Energy today announced the first close of CrossBoundary Energy Fund I, Africa’s first dedicated fund for Commercial & Industrial solar. Over the next 18 months, the fund will deploy over $25M to build solar facilities to power African enterprises through the SolarAfrica platform.

Due to a dramatic fall in cost, solar is now a viable alternative energy source for businesses in Africa. But it needs finance to be attractive.

Across Africa, economic growth is stifled by expensive and unreliable electricity. This challenge represents an immense opportunity for investment. Matt Tilleard, co-Managing Partner of CrossBoundary observed, “Africa is undergoing an energy revolution and has become a laboratory for pioneering new methods of energy delivery. A key driver of this has been the dramatic fall in cost of solar power – down by over 80% since 2008. Solar is now often cheaper than the grid in a majority of African countries”

Jake Cusack, co-Managing Partner at CrossBoundary, noted that “For many of the businesses that drive Africa’s growth, solar power is now an alternative source of cheaper and cleaner energy. However adoption remains low due to two barriers. First, solar has a substantial upfront cost. Without financing, solar installers are typically only able to offer upfront purchase of the solar system.  This means that the customer has to pay the full cost of 25 years of electricity on the first day. Second, many customers are unfamiliar with solar and reluctant to take responsibility for the technical and operational details of the system.”

Mr Tilleard said, “In markets such as the US, both these barriers were removed through the introduction of financed solar solutions. Instead of paying upfront, the financier builds the solar asset and the customer enters into a long term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). With today’s announcement, we are bringing the same financed solar solutions to Africa. Financing is now available to make cheaper, cleaner energy a reality for African enterprise.”

Empowering project developers through the SolarAfrica platform

CrossBoundary Energy will deploy its investment capital through SolarAfrica, a platform that provides solar installers a fully financed ‘PPA in a box’ to offer customers. SolarAfrica brings together CrossBoundary Energy’s financing with technical oversight and asset management services from NVI Energy. Through SolarAfrica, CrossBoundary Energy allows solar installers to offer Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) to African firms – enabling them to pay for the solar assets over time, just as they would pay for grid electricity or diesel fuel.

Mr Tilleard said “SolarAfrica already has a strong network of partners and we are actively looking for new installers or developers who are interested in offering a financed solar solution to their potential customers. We are currently in operation in Kenya and are hoping to expand to up to three additional countries in the next three to six months. Our funding is available for solar projects above 100 kWp that serve commercial and industrial customers.”

A ground-breaking transaction

CrossBoundary Energy has raised US$8m in equity to provide solar power for African enterprises. After debt leverage, CrossBoundary Energy Fund I intends to invest a total of over US$25m in solar assets over the next 18 months.

Mr Cusack observed, “The fund is a unique and innovative financing platform that will pioneer an entire new asset class in Africa. It is backed by a prestigious group of investors from the USA and Australia attracted both by the commercial returns and the opportunity for positive environmental and economic impact.” Investors include Blue Haven Initiative, TreeHouse Investments and Ceniarth.

Power Africa has been a crucial supporter of CrossBoundary Energy. Through Power Africa, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) provided an early-stage grant to support establishment costs and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided a $1.3M first-loss contribution to the fund. Mr Tilleard noted that this “was a groundbreaking innovation by USAID that helped attract private investors to this opportunity.”

In addition, the Shell Foundation, an independent charity, has also provided grant funding and business support to accelerate CrossBoundary's expansion into markets outside of Kenya and lay the groundwork for follow-on funds.

The transaction was led by Chadbourne & Parke LLP with local counsel support from the Africa Legal Network and Viva Africa. Ikenna Emehelu, a partner at Chadbourne said: "We helped solar companies create a market for distributed energy in the US.  We have seen that mass-market adoption of renewable energy occurs not when technology becomes available, but when it becomes affordable. By pooling institutional capital to finance upfront installation costs of solar systems, CrossBoundary has made solar affordable for the malls, hotels, schools and small businesses it serves in Africa.  Chadbourne congratulates the CrossBoundary team whose tenacity and vision has unlocked a promising new market in Africa."

CrossBoundary Energy’s first investment pioneers new ground in East Africa

At fund close CrossBoundary Energy also announced that its first major investment is an 858 kWp solar installation at the newly opened Garden City Mall in Nairobi. Mr Tilleard announced “It is the largest rooftop solar system in East Africa and the largest solar carport system in Africa. It is also the largest solar PPA that we are aware of with a private consumer in Sub-Saharan Africa.   This is an exciting first step on CrossBoundary Energy and SolarAfrica’s mission to introduce solar-as-service to African enterprises.”

Conclusion

Providing clean energy for African businesses represents a major commercial and environmental opportunity. The development of innovative energy financing and business models in Africa means the continent could have smarter, cleaner and more decentralized electricity infrastructure than developed countries. Mr Cusack noted that “Through the first dedicated fund for Commercial & Industrial solar, CrossBoundary Energy hopes to help Africa take a clean path to development through a transition to improved infrastructure and increased economic productivity with minimized environmental impact.”

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About CrossBoundary

CrossBoundary is an innovative investment firm that provides transaction and economic advisory services to help unlock capital for positive change in underserved markets. The firm was founded in 2011 and has worked across a range of frontier markets and also developed innovative mechanisms to attract investment in fragile states affected by conflict such as Afghanistan and Mali. Recently, the firm has launched CrossBoundary Energy, the first dedicated investment fund for commercial and industrial solar in Africa. 

 

Tags:  africa  Business Models  Capital Aggregation  East Africa  energy  finance  Financing Mechanisms  impact investing  impact investment  Investors  Kenya  Private sector development  sustainability  sustainable energy 

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IDEO.org's Urban Resilience Challenge: Add Your Ideas

Posted By IDEO.org, Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Almost 4 billion people live in the world’s cities. By 2045, that number is expected to reach 6 billion. As the earth gets warmer, sea levels rise and weather patterns become more erratic, the fates of billions will rest on the ability of cities to transform in response to these pressures. People living in urban slums already struggle to access safe housing, water and other basic resources, and will be disproportionately impacted by these changes.

We believe this presents a tremendous opportunity for design. How might urban slum communities become more resilient to the effects of climate change? Our fourth Amplify challenge focuses on the opportunity to design solutions that enable communities in urban slums to adapt, transform, and thrive as they meet the challenges presented by climate change. We're looking for solutions related to sanitation, water management, energy, communications technology, community development and more!

For the Urban Resilience Challenge, we're partnering with OpenIDEO, the UK Department for International Development and the Global Resilience Partnership. Winners of this challenge are eligible for a share of up to $800,000 in funding and technical design assistance to bring some the best ideas to life.

There's only ONE WEEK LEFT to add your idea (a few short paragraphs will do!) to be eligible to win the challenge, so check out the challenge and add your voice today: http://ideo.to/AmplifyURC

Tags:  communities  conflict affected states  East Africa  Entrepreneurship  Environment  inclusive innovation  innovation  Kenya  Poverty  Prize  social enterprise  Social Entrepreneurship  sustainability  West Africa  Women 

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Regional Integration: Towards an East African Republic

Posted By Mary Mwangi, Argidius Foundation, Thursday, February 28, 2013

The ratification of the Customs Union in 2005 and the coming into force of the Common Market Protocol in 2010 were steps in the right direction. However, the impediments to the full implementation of both lie in non-tariff barriers. East Africa's population is estimated to reach 237 million by the year 2030. This is according to the Society for International Development. East African businesses will only reap the full benefits of this market when the 5 governments prioritise full implementation of the Customs Union and the Common Market Protocol.

I came across an exposition of the progress made in implementing the Customs Union by Trade Mark East Africa. The paper also highlights the barriers to full implementation of the Customs Union and suggests some of the policy interventions that are necessary for full implementation.

http://www.trademarkea.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/TMEA-Policy-Paper.pdf

Tags:  Burundi  Common Market  Customs Union  East Africa  Kenya  Regional Integration  Rwanda  Tanzania  Uganda 

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