The GroFin blog page showcases GroFin entrepreneur success and provides insights on how they have grown their businesses into successful SMEs.

Nigerian Banker turned Herbalist: The entrepreneur of Jim Products Limited

Nigerian banker-turned entrepreneur Mikail Jimoh is the founder and Managing Directorof Jim Products Limited (JPL). He worked in the banking industry for over 10 years before joining Anisere Herbal Consults to deepen his knowledge of herbal products prior to setting up JPL in 2001.

The business commenced production of herbal products in 2002 for sale and distribution in Nigeria and the West Africa Region. However, by late 2011, the factory and production facilities started showing visible strain. In June 2012, the company was supported by the GroFin Africa Fund (GAF) with a loan of N79m for building a new factoryreplacing equipment and financing working capital. The building has since been completed, equipment installed and made fully operational.

His experience with GAF having exceeded the entrepreneur’s expectations on all counts, it was little surprise that Mikail approached GroFin yet again in 2015 when he needed working capital finance to grow his company’s client base.

GroFin showed no hesitation in stepping in with a loan of N89m spread over 5 years under its SGB Fund, to give the highest possible financial boost to the entrepreneur.

Besides finance, GroFin Lagos Investment Manager Femi Salami assisted the client ably on the business support front, providing help for critical working capital aspects such as inventory managementcashflow management and financial management.

ESG compliance was also ensured by restricting staff movement in sensitive production areas and effective waste management within premises. Operations improvement was effected by putting an assets register and equipment maintenance logbook in place,” says Femi.

This investment will create an additional 10 jobs of which 8 will be semi-skilled or unskilled. It will also sustain 77 jobs of which 90% are semi-skilled or unskilled and 67% are female. Also, about 1,200 indirect jobs will be sustained by the existing 37 customersand 40 suppliers.

Finally, GroFin sees high impact from this investment as the client manufactures herbal healthcare products for teeth, skin and hair, thus considerably improving the health standards of his consumers. It may be noted that a significant percentage of the consumers hail from the bottom of the pyramid.

“What most conventional banks shy away from, remains the core business of GroFin – supporting SMEs,” concludes Mikail.

Ebony Clinic: Quality healthcare for South Africans with GroFin’s support

With an overwhelming majority of the population at 97.6% consisting of native South Africans, and only half the households having access to piped water, Kaalfontein in Johannesburg is a typical township that is struggling to cater for a high BoP population.

While townships are economically and politically significant in South Africa, they continue to lurk on the margins of neighbouring urban core economies, unable to attract much-needed private investment for essential services such as healthcare.

Kaalfontein found the answer to its prayers in Thabo Lewatle, an established entrepreneur with sound experience in managing peri-urban health clinics in South Africa, who founded Ebony Clinic in Kaalfontein in 2010.

Having run Ebony Clinic successfully for the last 6 years, Thabo wished to reach out to the community with a best-in-class maternity ward. With 31.7% of households in Kaalfontein being headed by females, the importance of maternal care cannot be emphasised enough.

By early 2016, having worked hard on getting the complex maternity building plans approved by the concerned authorities and committed considerable own capital towards the construction of a new maternity ward, Thabo needed a dedicated partner to provide the start-up expenses and initial working capital for the maternity ward’s operation.

GroFin provided both finance and support to make the maternity ward operational and help me realise my vision of providing affordable healthcare to expecting mothers in my community,” says Thabo.

On business support, the GroFin South Africa team identified areas of assistance on the occupational health and safety (OH&S)succession planning as well as administrative fronts.

Being a healthcare facility, the maternity ward poses significant risks such as exposure to infectiondiseasehazardous materials and waste for both patients and staff. GroFin is helping the entrepreneur implement a more robust OH&S plan. On the succession planning front, it was identified that a General Practitioner License is required in place of the current clinic license, with the team set to support the entrepreneur with placing either of the two other licensed doctors on the payroll as a license holder for the maternity ward. Finally, Medical Claim administration processes have also been identified as a business support area, since claims administration was so far being done by untrained staff. Based on GroFin’s assistance, a supervisor has been appointed and the Medical Claims software has also been upgraded.

With GroFin’s finance and support, Ebony Clinic reaches out to 19,000 patients each year and employs 15 members from the local community, sustaining multiple livelihoods in the Kaalfontein township.

What businesses can do to promote women empowerment in Africa

Eliminating gender inequality and empowering women could raise the productive potential of one billion Africans, delivering a huge boost to the continent’s development potential,” notes the African Development Bank on women empowerment.

In this context, businesses have a key role to play in advancing women’s economic empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In addition to their human rights obligations, companies are increasingly viewing women’s economic empowerment as a core part of their mission and values. Indeed, they have a business interest in ensuring that women employees, suppliers, distributors, and customers succeed – McKinsey Global Institute estimates that if women participated in the economy as equal counterparts to men, it would add as much as US$28 trillion to the annual global GDP by 2025.

Unfortunately, women in SSA face deeply rooted obstacles to achieving their potential at work. First, women in the workforce, regardless of industry, face many common challenges such as the need for additional education and training for career progression, a lack of female role models, the absence of good childcare options and decent maternity leave, and risks to their personal safety and security. Second, for women to be economically empowered, it will take much more than a job – there is an urgent need to go beyond to invest in the resources, opportunities, protections, and skills that women need to achieve their full potential and decide what they want to do with their lives. Third, to address systemic challenges, companies will need to partner locally and globally with a wide range of organisations, including local grassroots women’s organisations, development finance institutions, local governments, public health care providers, and industry peers.

Due to the above challenges, women in SSA achieve an average of 87 percent of male human development outcomes, thus impeding economic and social development in the region. Indeed, the United Nations estimates that gender inequality costs SSA an average of US$ 95 billion a year.

These insights form part of an in-depth report released this year by the US-based non-profit organisation, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR). Titled ‘Women’s Economic Empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa: Recommendations for Business Action’, the report outlines the role of businesses in boosting women empowerment in Africa.

BSR’s research reveals six practical areas where companies, regardless of industry, can make significant progress in advancing women’s economic empowerment in SAA. These areas include: building a gender-sensitive workplace with flexible work arrangementsto accommodate working parents, strengthen channels for women to express their concerns, and invest in quality childcare; providing leadership and advancement opportunities through fair and transparent promotion and recruitment processes, encouraging informal and formal leadership opportunities and supporting initiatives outside of the workplace such as women’s networking associations; strengthening education and training by sponsoring technical training and internships for young women, advocating for greater public investments and incentives to keep girls in school and encouraging their interest in STEM subjects; investing in policies and procedures to protect women from sexual harassment, creating secure channels to report incidents, and ensuring that such incidents are handled fairly and result in disciplinary action; providing opportunities for entrepreneurship and business linkages with transparent processes for securing business contracts, procurement policies prioritising women-owned businesses, and working more closely with local partners to ensure that women have the skills and resources to grow their businesses; and, building more inclusive communitiesby partnering with organisations that provide community services, supporting efforts to protect women’s, labour, and human rights and advocating for local governments to promote women’s economic empowerment.

Whilst much more remains to be done, the report acknowledges that the private sector already plays an important role for women in SSA by generating economic and other opportunities. Indeed, Africa, as a whole, has more women in executive committees, more women serving as CEO, and more women on company boards than the average worldwide. Despite this progress, women are still underrepresented at every level of the corporate ladder and are disproportionately affected by some of the negative impact of business.

In this context, supporting women-based businesses in SSA can go a long way towards promoting women empowerment and building inclusive communities. Women empowerment forms a core impact objective at GroFin, a development financier that focuses on small businesses across Africa and the Middle East in vital needs sectors such as education, healthcare, agribusiness, manufacturing and key services (water/energy/waste) to help entrepreneurs make a difference to their communities.

GroFin’s mission is aligned with the achievement of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 5 (‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’) through its emphasis on women-led businesses and female employment. In keeping with its focus on women empowerment, by close of 2016, GroFin had supported over 100 women-owned businesses and as many as 28,500 of the total jobs sustained (30%) in investee businesses were for female employees.

Women entrepreneurs such as Kenya’s Irene, whose brainchild GAEA Foods empowers farmers in the Rift Valley to supply quality potatoes to Nairobi’s competitive fast foods industry; Jordan’s Hiyam, whose school, English Talents, in turn empowers girls with the education and skills they need to succeed in a global economy; South Africa’s Rinawhose Zambesi Akademie is making a difference to more and more special needs children through the widened reach of its expanded premises; and Nigeria’s Latifat, whose Hatlab Ice Cream Delite has spawned multiple successful outlets across 3 cities and has now gone on to develop franchise management skills – GroFin’s finance and support has made a difference to women-owned businesses across Africa and the Middle East.

If you are an investor seeking to reach out to women entrepreneurs across Africa and the Middle East, we invite you to partner with us. GroFin’s proven expertise in supporting women-owned businesses, and its capacity to provide them with unprecedented access to finance, business development skills and market linkages, can help you to deepen your impact footprint.

Building an inclusive green economy in Africa, one entrepreneur at a time

To imagine a green economy alone is not enough in a world where the dominant economic model actively promotes inequalities and encourages wasteful consumption to spur unnecessary demand and production in a vicious cycle. It is the inclusive green economy that truly provides a solution to the pressing problem of environmental degradation that is affecting not only the present generation but also holding children across the globe to ransom in our hurried pursuit of quick gains.

As the United Nations notes, the inclusive green economy is a fitting alternative to the traditional economic model of capitalism which generates widespread environmental and health risks, encourages wasteful consumption and production, drives ecological and resource scarcities and results in inequality. The concept of an inclusive green economy is rooted in economic growth that goes hand in hand with sustainable development andsocial equity.

Starting this revolution in Africa then seems inevitable, as the emerging continent is writing a fresh story of growth for which an economic model that has led the developed world to the verge of ecological disaster is certainly no fitting start. As the United Nations Environment Programme highlights in its seminal work Building Inclusive Green economies in AfricaAfrica has been fortunate to realise early on that continuing with business-as-usual models of development was not a practical option in a world of increasing environmental scarcities, economic uncertainty and widespread poverty. Today, having built on a strong endowment of natural resourcesskills and cultures, Africa is well-poised to benefit from a global shift to more sustainable models of economic growth.

At GroFin, we believe that partnering with small and growing businesses to generate sustainable economic growth, jobs and social benefits, as well as protect vital natural resources, is our way of contributing towards an inclusive green economy in Africa. Ultimately, the inclusive green economy is a guaranteed pathway towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals for eradicating poverty while safeguarding the environment.

Founded in 2004 by a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about environmental conservation, GroFin has strong roots in championing the green economy. GroFin’s chairman and founder Jurie Willemse started a solar electricity business in 1988 when the technology was largely unknown. It is in keeping with the vision of its founding entrepreneur that GroFin prioritises energy as a sector of focus, together with allied services such as water and sanitation, all of which are the pillars of a green economy.

Indeed, GroFin’s footprint in the energy and allied sub-sectors space is a growing one and comprises of investments within the value chain related mostly to the supply of waterelectricity and waste management. GroFin has invested in 24 SMEs in this sector, representing a total investment of over USD 9.5 million and sustaining a total of 11,605 jobs across Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East & North Africa (MENA).

GroFin provides a unique value proposition of finance as well as value-added business support to such investee SMEs. GroFin has designated in-house key services ‘industry experts’ that work with external technical assistance partners to provide business planning, quality management systems, cash flow management and propose efficient business operation and management as well as marketing and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) best-practice knowledge to funded SMEs in the sector.

With its dedicated focus on the energy, water and waste services sector, GroFin has provided medium term finance and business support to SMEs engaged in borehole drilling to facilitate access to potable waterproduction of purified drinking water sachetsmanufacturing and sale of renewable energy products (solar and wind), plastic recycling as also to auxiliary service providers in the utilities sector. From clients in Nigeria who provide access to clean drinking water to large segments of the population, to clients in Kenya who innovate indigenous technologies in the solar energy space, our footprint in the green economy arena covers multiple sub-sectors and geographies.

One of our clients is Botto Solar, which is a leading solar energy company in Nakuru, Kenya. Botto Solar is run by entrepreneurial couple Ephraim and Edith who have spent 20 years building the local business from a small scale solar installations to a pioneering energy savings company in Kenya.

GroFin’s investment in Botto Solar has been one of the catalysts in developing a solution to the challenges of the Dadaab refugee camp that hosts refugees from war-torn Somalia. Innovations such as a stove that runs on solar energy have helped multiple families to have access to food, which was otherwise impossible as the camp faced an increasing influx of refugees and could not cater to all of them with conventional cooking methods. Apart from finance, the business has received support to implement a new accounting system and a debt collection strategy as well as key inputs for marketing and product development.

With finance and business support from GroFin, Botto Solar is set to expand and touch many more lives. Botto Solar sustains 39 jobs and employee development is a key focus area given that many of the new hires are unskilled or semi-skilled and some are high school dropouts.

Going forward, GroFin’s objective is to further grow investments in this sector from 4% to 10-15% over the medium term, thereby facilitating access to watersanitation and energy to a wider population, especially to those in severely underserved regions in Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA. We are looking for partners in our mission to build an inclusive green economy, one entrepreneur at a time.

Ultimately, we believe at GroFin that every person deserves to have a stable job and to access basic services such as foodwaterhealthcaresanitationenergy and educationImpact investing is GroFin’s mission and our contribution to the world is to continue our focus on job creation and to accelerate our work in our priority areas of WaterEnergy and WasteAgribusinessHealthcareEducation and Manufacturing.

To imagine a green economy alone is not enough in a world where the dominant economic model actively promotes inequalities and encourages wasteful consumption to spur unnecessary demand and production in a vicious cycle. It is the inclusive green economythat truly provides a solution to the pressing problem of environmental degradation that is affecting not only the present generation but also holding children across the globe to ransom in our hurried pursuit of quick gains.

As the United Nations notes, the inclusive green economy is a fitting alternative to the traditional economic model of capitalism which generates widespread environmental and health risks, encourages wasteful consumption and production, drives ecological and resource scarcities and results in inequality. The concept of an inclusive green economy is rooted in economic growth that goes hand in hand with sustainable development andsocial equity.

Starting this revolution in Africa then seems inevitable, as the emerging continent is writing a fresh story of growth for which an economic model that has led the developed world to the verge of ecological disaster is certainly no fitting start. As the United Nations Environment Programme highlights in its seminal work Building Inclusive Green economies in AfricaAfrica has been fortunate to realise early on that continuing with business-as-usual models of development was not a practical option in a world of increasing environmental scarcities, economic uncertainty and widespread poverty. Today, having built on a strong endowment of natural resourcesskills and cultures, Africa is well-poised to benefit from a global shift to more sustainable models of economic growth.

At GroFin, we believe that partnering with small and growing businesses to generate sustainable economic growth, jobs and social benefits, as well as protect vital natural resources, is our way of contributing towards an inclusive green economy in Africa. Ultimately, the inclusive green economy is a guaranteed pathway towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals for eradicating poverty while safeguarding the environment.

Founded in 2004 by a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about environmental conservation, GroFin has strong roots in championing the green economy. GroFin’s chairman and founder Jurie Willemse started a solar electricity business in 1988 when the technology was largely unknown. It is in keeping with the vision of its founding entrepreneur that GroFin prioritises energy as a sector of focus, together with allied services such as water and sanitation, all of which are the pillars of a green economy.

Indeed, GroFin’s footprint in the energy and allied sub-sectors space is a growing one and comprises of investments within the value chain related mostly to the supply of waterelectricity and waste management. GroFin has invested in 24 SMEs in this sector, representing a total investment of over USD 9.5 million and sustaining a total of 11,605 jobs across Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East & North Africa (MENA).

GroFin provides a unique value proposition of finance as well as value-added business support to such investee SMEs. GroFin has designated in-house key services ‘industry experts’ that work with external technical assistance partners to provide business planning, quality management systems, cash flow management and propose efficient business operation and management as well as marketing and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) best-practice knowledge to funded SMEs in the sector.

With its dedicated focus on the energy, water and waste services sector, GroFin has provided medium term finance and business support to SMEs engaged in borehole drilling to facilitate access to potable waterproduction of purified drinking water sachetsmanufacturing and sale of renewable energy products (solar and wind), plastic recycling as also to auxiliary service providers in the utilities sector. From clients in Nigeria who provide access to clean drinking water to large segments of the population, to clients in Kenya who innovate indigenous technologies in the solar energy space, our footprint in the green economy arena covers multiple sub-sectors and geographies.

One of our clients is Botto Solar, which is a leading solar energy company in Nakuru, Kenya. Botto Solar is run by entrepreneurial couple Ephraim and Edith who have spent 20 years building the local business from a small scale solar installations to a pioneering energy savings company in Kenya.

GroFin’s investment in Botto Solar has been one of the catalysts in developing a solution to the challenges of the Dadaab refugee camp that hosts refugees from war-torn Somalia. Innovations such as a stove that runs on solar energy have helped multiple families to have access to food, which was otherwise impossible as the camp faced an increasing influx of refugees and could not cater to all of them with conventional cooking methods. Apart from finance, the business has received support to implement a new accounting system and a debt collection strategy as well as key inputs for marketing and product development.

With finance and business support from GroFin, Botto Solar is set to expand and touch many more lives. Botto Solar sustains 39 jobs and employee development is a key focus area given that many of the new hires are unskilled or semi-skilled and some are high school dropouts.

Going forward, GroFin’s objective is to further grow investments in this sector from 4% to 10-15% over the medium term, thereby facilitating access to watersanitation and energy to a wider population, especially to those in severely underserved regions in Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA. We are looking for partners in our mission to build an inclusive green economy, one entrepreneur at a time.

Ultimately, we believe at GroFin that every person deserves to have a stable job and to access basic services such as foodwaterhealthcaresanitationenergy and educationImpact investing is GroFin’s mission and our contribution to the world is to continue our focus on job creation and to accelerate our work in our priority areas of WaterEnergy and WasteAgribusinessHealthcareEducation and Manufacturing.

Grand Care Hospitals Nigeria – Bringing Quality Private Healthcare to Port Harcourt

Entrepreneur Dr. Eke James Amuche is a happy man these days. A number of critical cases have been successfully treated at Grand Care Hospital (a private healthcare facility) in Bayelsa State with its recently purchased fully equipped ambulance and emergency equipment , which would not have been possible previously.

From a radiant warmer that has been used to resuscitate babies suffering from breathing difficulties after birth, to a 4D scanning machine that has enabled early detection of problems during pregnancy and even uncovered a severe cardio-myopathy in an 18-year old, Grand Care Hospitals is now closer to its objective of universal healthcare than ever before.

It was a chance meeting with a GroFin investment manager that finally led to the purchase of the radiant warmer, additional incubating machines and a 4D scanning machine to detect ectopic pregnancies, besides dentaloptical equipment and an ambulance handy for moving patients to bigger hospitals, all of which were sorely needed to resolve the increasing incidence of medical problems faced by the underserved Bayelsa community.

Incidentally, Bayelsa State ranks very low in terms of access to healthcare with a doctor to patient ratio of 1 to 7,000 against a WHO recommendation of 1 to 600.

Grand Care Hospitals was opened to the public in 2010 in Port Harcourt, and then relocated to Yenagoa in Bayelsa State in 2012.

Although significant strides were made to provide quality healthcare in Yenagoa in the early years of operation, Grand Care needed key equipment to make further inroads to improving access to emergency medical support.

Dr. Amuche turned to GroFin after being overwhelmed by a torturous feeling of helplessness as he watched a fifth patient in three months driving off in private transport to the teaching hospital at Ikoloibiri. An ambulance was desperately needed to ensure safe passage for emergency cases, but turning to traditional financiers did not seem to be a guaranteed solution.

The need for modern equipment to handle the complexity of medical problems the hospital was facing in Yenagoa finally drove the entrepreneur to seek finance from GroFinin 2016 to improve the equipment and buy an ambulance for Grand Care Hospitals. The new ambulance is equipped with an oxygen concentratorsuction machine100% oxygen cylinderambubagrespiratorcardiac defibrillatorstretcher and first aid box, all of which come in handy for moving patients to a bigger hospital.

And, the new ambulance could not have arrived more opportunely. Soon after Dr. Amuche received GroFin funding for the ambulance, a woman in the process of delivery was rushed to a neighbouring bigger medical facility with the new ambulance, upon developing complications that indicated the need for a major intestinal surgery.

In addition to the physical equipment, GroFin’s partnership with Grand Care includes the provision of expert business support services. Apart from assistance to formalise the administrative and financial management systems, Dr. Amuche has also been introduced to the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA) for unprecedented access to market linkages.

Besides, the emergency equipment, the community has benefited from free dental and eye screening servicesAffordable and quality healthcare is becoming more and more available to the community surrounding Grand Care; thanks to Dr. Amuche’s vision, backed by GroFin’s investment and business support.

“We are seeing the fulfilment of our dream by providing quality health care for the emerging lower and middle class of Nigeria. GroFin has been the ideal partner for us to achieve this goal,” concludes Dr. Eke James Amuche.

Impact investing comes of age, set to revolutionize the investment world

As impact investing comes of age, to quote the Economist, it is time to take a look at the largest survey of the Impact Investment landscape, and see how this nascent industry is fast becoming a mainstream phenomenon.

A decade into the creation of a formal impact investing industry, the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) continues to dig deep into the data generated by the now multiple players —including fund managers, institutional investors, and foundations, as well as field-building organisations, advisors, and others in the impact investing ecosystem— and explore important issues about the market’s development. These investment insights serve to assess the progress the impact industry has made, and identify what is needed to exponentially enhance its scale and effectiveness over the next ten years.

The GIIN’s Annual Impact Investor 2017 Survey is as definitive as it is comprehensive – taking into account the consolidated responses of 209 members of the impact investment world who together manage USD 114 billion in impact investing assets. Factoring in the responses from this broad sample base, the seventh Annual Impact Investor Survey by GIIN found that investors plan to commit USD 25.9 billion in assets to impact investment deals this year, a 17% increase from a year ago. What is most encouraging though is that investors continue to be overwhelmingly satisfied with the performance of their investments – both in terms of their financial return and the impactthey generate. Indeed, 98% respondents reported that the returns met or exceeded their expectations in terms of impact, and 91% reported that this was the case in terms of performance.

Moreover, as the impact investing industry matures, the GIIN notes that impact measurement has grown increasingly nuanced and sophisticated. In the past year alone, there has been a significant increase in in-depth research and data on impact measurement and management and growing collaboration among different players. An indicator of growing maturity, the industry has begun to shift focus from the “why” to the “how” of impact measurement and management, with several recent studies exploring different methodological aspects. Some noteworthy studies are the Tideline’s Navigating Impact Investing publication, GIIN’s The Business Value of Impact Measurement, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Situating the Next Generation of Impact Measurement and Evaluation for Impact Investing and the Bridges Impact+ and Skopos Impact Fund’s More than Measurement.

Further, multi-party data projects such as the World Economic Forum’s Shaping the Future of Impact Investing initiative, the OECD’s multi-participant study, the GIIN’s Navigating Impact initiative, the Impact Measurement Project and the Fourth Sector Mapping Initiative are all indicative of a shift toward increasingly collaborative effortswithin the industry around impact measurement and management.

Finally, three big takeaways from this year’s report were that, first, the impact investment space is broad enough to allow for a range of impact objectives and financial return targets; secondly, large firms are entering this field, but must conform to the high standards set by the existing, niche players, and lastly, the Sustainable Development Goals are influencing both impact objectives and their measurement in a big way. Most significantly, while the entry of large firms is an exciting development as it points to the mainstreaming of impact investing, this phenomenon calls for a wait-and-watch approach as there is a risk of ‘impact dilution’ or mission drift. While large-scale firms will help professionalise and bring credibility to the market, as well as bring in much-needed capital, they may not be as intentional about generating impact, may prioritise returns over impact, or may not sustain their commitment to impact for the long term. Existing, niche players then have the overriding responsibility of ensuring that the impact investment landscape continues to deliver on its promise of socio-economic returns beyond mere financial profits.

As one of the respondents selected to form part of this noteworthy initiative, GroFin is proud to represent the impact investment space in Africa and MENA, and bring its experience and expertise to bear on this comprehensive survey of the impact investing industry. A pioneering impact investor whose fund management capabilities have lent support to over 8,000 entrepreneurs and transformed more than 600 SMEs, GroFin has been active in this nascent industry for the last 13 years.

Indeed, GroFin co-developed a unique Small and Growing Businesses (SGB) model together with the Shell Foundation, that has been successfully applied since 2004 to generate employment at scale and benefit multiple lives at the base of the pyramid. With 95,130 jobs sustained and 480,000 family members supported through its investments as at close of December 2016, GroFin has won CFI.co’s Best Social Impact Finance Africa award for 2017, proving the effectiveness of its model and its application to the SME space in emerging markets.

With its pioneering and award winning model, GroFin has the potential to create exponential impact and uplift entire communities. We invite you to be a part of this far-reaching and impactful movement, whether as an entrepreneur making a difference to the lives of their community, or an investor seeking a reward beyond just financial returns from emerging market investments. If we all come together, impact investing will indeed come of age.

Impact Investing & Education–Learning to make a difference in Africa

Africa’s education story is waiting to be written, but whether it will be written by Africa’s children is a pressing question that haunts the emerging continent.

Consider this – Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) still has 30 million children out of school, and tertiary education is suffering from severe capacity constraints. SSA is also the worst-performing region globally for educational quality and learning outcomes, with up to 40% of children not meeting basic learning outcomes in literacy and numeracy. Moreover, by 2035, the number of Africans joining the workforce (15–64) will exceed that of the rest of the world combined, but SSA’s education systems are not meeting workforce needs.

Sounds like a challenge for any government? It certainly is, and one that no government can possibly rise to. A report highlighting the key role that the private sector is poised to play in Africa’s education landscape then comes as a fitting response to this challenge, replete with a powerful foreword by Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

This definitive report by Caerus Capital is aptly titled “The Business of Education in Africa”, focusing as it does on the contribution of the private sector and on how government can act as the steward of the whole education system.

“The Business of Education in Africa” paints the current landscape of private education in Sub-Saharan Africa, goes on to discuss how African governments can better engage with private education players, highlights opportunities for investing in private education in SSA and delves deep into case studies of interesting companies in education in SSA. It ends with case studies of the education market in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Senegal & Liberia that may well be some of the most comprehensive insights into the education markets of these key African economies as on date.

While Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 mandates that governments have and must continue to commit to access to a free, quality education for children, statistics highlight that around one billion African children will need to be educated over the coming three decades. Keeping pace with this demand requires enormous investment in schools, universities, and other infrastructure; recruitment and training of teachers, school leaders, and support staff; and learning materials. Public education systems will struggle to keep up with this unprecedented increase in demand.

Private sector education is then key to unlock the potential of this vital sector, and meet the rising tide of demand that otherwise threatens to engulf the continent’s children in a sea of darkness.

The report notes that the private sector is already playing a significant role in SSA. While publicly reported data compiled by UNESCO indicates that the private sector has a share of 13.5% in the education sector across 15 countries, the report’s own surveys indicate that the actual share of private schooling might be 21% (or one in five pupils), and this number is only set to rise (to one in four) over the next five years.

However, this enormous opportunity comes with the significant challenge of financing private players in education, with the report identifying a private investment requirement of US$16–$18 billion over the next five years.

The report highlights that education makes for a compelling investment opportunity because it delivers wider benefits in the form of high individual, social, and economic returns, and investors & donors are consequently willing to secure lower financial returns, or even a purely social return on investment.

Impact investing that focuses on social returns over purely financial returns then comes to mind as a lasting solution to the financing woes of private sector schools. While impact investing is a nascent field and impact investors in Africa are few and far between, some stories of positive change in local communities are already being written.

Be it Kenya’s Nairobi International SchoolTanzania’s Daystar SchoolRwanda’s Highland SchoolGhana’s Firm Foundation or South Africa’s Zambesi Akademie, these small businesses hailing from across the African education landscape have one strong link that binds them all — GroFin.

Firm Foundation Ghana–GroFin Client and School of Choice

Firm Foundation Ghana has become the school of choice for parents in the catchment area and is consistently the top performing school in the Ga West area for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). An average of 25% of students that obtain their BECE at Firm Foundation continue their education through tertiary institutions.

The school’s student population had grown dramatically from an initial intake of 358 students in 2008 to 1,095 students in 2009. By the start of the school year in 2010, the student population had risen to 1,625, putting significant pressure on the school system and parents.

Selorm Abotsi is an example of a Grade 5 learner at Firm Foundation. Many of her school mates have had to endure a transport route that included a 30-minute walk from homefollowed by a 1-hour bus ride leaving them exhausted before they attended a single class. Rapid growth in the Ga West region was stretching the Firm Foundation facilities and the lack of transport infrastructure was limiting students’ capacity to learn due to the fatigue of the morning commute. These challenges led entrepreneur Michael Boakye Yiadom to seek the finance needed to extend the school’s facilities and provide transport to their students.

In 2011, Firm Foundation approached GroFin for funding to accelerate their facility expansions so that they could accommodate the demand for places from new students.Three buses were also purchased to overcome the transportation problems from remote areas. A loan of US$ 1.1M was used to pay off a bank loanpurchase the busescomplete a laboratorybuild a classroom block, a girl’s dormitory and provide seed capital for a secondary school. Besides the financial support, GroFin provided business support services, completely revamping the school management software and assisting to streamline operations. The innovative payment scheme has created an opportunity for parents to match their school fee payments with their income cycle thus helping to reduce bad debts and give access to private education to a greater number of families.

“Our partnership with GroFin has enabled us to reach new areas with quality education and open doors of opportunity for the next generation.” Michael Boakye Yiadom.

Since GroFin’s investment, the student population has increased by over 30%, growing from 1,625 students to 2,130 and the number of staff employed from 85 to 128. Revenues have risen from 700,000 to 1.2 million Ghanaian Cedi.

“Our relationship with GroFin has been very good. Without them, we wouldn’t have come this far,” says Mr. William Klormegah, the accountant of Firm Foundation Montessori Academy.

From an entrepreneurial pastime to a pioneering Nigerian fish farming business

Nigeria Delta State entrepreneur, Olusegun Ezekiel Wuraola is successfully growing his company Grandpa Agro-Allied Farms Ltd, which started as a pastime but has become a pioneering fish farming and fish feed business.

While managing his computer business successfully for 19 years, Olusegun began fish farming as a pastime by constructing a fish pond in his compound. Over a period of 3 years, he expanded with another 2 ponds and began to see the potential of fish farming and fish feed production as a more viable business model than computing. One of the key differences is the need to supply computing equipment on credit, while fish production tends to have a steady demand and is sold on a cash and carry basis. And so as from 2013, Olusegun began to seriously pursue fish farming and fish feed production as a business venture.

Titilayo, Olusegun’s wife has become a 40% shareholder in Grandpa. As a couple, they are a dynamic unit, holding 5 university degrees between them including an MBA each. Their obvious commitment to learning together with their systematic approach has led them to engage with local consultants in Nigeria as well as 3 research professors from Delta University in the USA who have helped them to develop their fish feed recipes.

The production site that is being developed by Olusegun is perfectly situated in a growing fish farming region. There are 3 clusters of farms within their delivery radius representing approximately 8000 farmers and a potential demand of over 400 000 bags of fish feed per month. Much of the fish feed consumed in the local market is imported and with the deterioration in the exchange rate, Grandpa is well positioned to displace imports with a high quality locally produced alternative.

GroFin’s investment with Grandpa is valued at just under US$70,000 and is being used to finance equipment for the production of fish feed and working capital. This will enable them to move from a manual intensive operation to a more mechanical system and will increase their capacity to 16 bags (15 kg each) per hour. An additional 8 jobs are being created through the expansion of Grandpa bringing the total employment to 17 of which 3 are women89% of all 17 jobs are addressing the base of pyramid unskilled labour force.

We are looking forward to seeing the new production facility come online and the social impact being realised through this well organised and disciplined fish farming entrepreneur.