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Bugesera Agribusiness: Impacting bottom of the pyramid farmers in Eastern Rwanda

Opening a large business in an area where almost 50 percent of the population live below the poverty line might deter some of the hardiest business people, not so Mr. Christophe Kanyandekwe, owner of Bugesera Agribusiness Company Ltd, also known as BABC.

A mechanical engineer, Mr. Kanyandekwe bought BABC which is located in Gashora, Bugesera district, Eastern Province of Rwanda, in 2014. Prior to his acquisition the company which started operations in 2008 was run by a farming cooperative called Indakuki Cooperative. When Mr. Kanyandekwe bought the factory, he retained the 328 members of the Indakuki Cooperative as suppliers of maize kernels, as he did not want the members to lose their livelihoods.

Today BABC is the largest agribusiness in Eastern Province and it has supply contracts with 86 cooperatives who represent approximately 70,000 farmers. In a province struggling to deal with poverty and with people thinking about how they will put food on the table, companies like BABC provide a lifeline. Each of the farmers that supply the company through their cooperatives are at the very least assured of having a captive market for their products. As many Rwandan farmers are at the bottom of the pyramid, agri-businesses like Bugesera Agribusiness encourage local farmers to see farming as a viable enterprise.  This is important in a country where agriculture is a mainstay for thousands of families.

In the first quarter of this year, according to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwandaagriculture contributed 31 percent to the country’s GDPAgriculture is expected to play a vital role in reducing poverty and ensuring the country is self-sufficient in its nutrition needs.

Mr. Kanyandekwe is also a shrewd businessman in that he finds reliable buyers for his products. One of these buyers is Africa Improved Food Ltd., a company who is taking the fight against malnutrition in Africa head on. BABC signed a contract with the company to provide them with 600 to 1500 tons of soy beans a year for the next three years.

As BABC grew it found itself in need of finance and in GroFin it found a partner willing to help. GroFin, which has made a name for itself investing in small growing businesses(SGBs) has agribusiness as a sector of focus  across sub-Saharan Africa and MENA. Another large Rwandan agribusiness that GroFin supports is Yak Fair Trade. Therefore, partnering with a company like BABC made sense for GroFin. The financing allowed BABC to purchase new equipmentbuy additional raw materials and expand its warehousing capability. In addition to the financing the GroFin Rwanda team provided business support to BABC, which started pre-finance, when the company was advised to properly register its assetsPost finance the company received help on how to better structure its sales and marketing strategy. Additionally, advice was provided on production process automation, improvement of packaging system, and looking into export possibilities. To further help BABC, GroFin Rwanda will introduce BABC to PUM experts who will be providing advice on product certification.

Through GroFin’s finance and business support, BABC is able to sustain 62 permanent jobs of which 24 are held by women and 51 are low skilled/semi-skilled.

“Thanks to GroFin, I was able to expand capacity and make a greater impact in our province of Eastern Rwanda. I think agribusinesses in Rwanda must not hesitate to invest in our agricultural sector.” – Christophe Kanyandekwe

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Millennial movement: Why the young are impact investment’s big hope

Even as ‘The Economist’ noted in an authoritative piece at the start of 2017 that impact investing has come of age, moving into 2018 it looks like the rise of impact investing is indeed an age-related phenomenon. Powering the growth of impact investing are the millennial youth, the freshly minted generation of the 1980s and 1990s, who are looking set to bring impact investments from the realm of ‘good-to-have’ to ‘must-have’.

Even as ‘The Economist’ noted in an authoritative piece at the start of 2017 that impact investing has come of age, moving into 2018 it looks like the rise of impact investing is indeed an age-related phenomenon. Powering the growth of impact investing are the millennial youth, the freshly minted generation of the 1980s and 1990s, who are looking set to bring impact investments from the realm of ‘good-to-have’ to ‘must-have’.

Acknowledging this change that is set to sweep through the impact investment world, ‘The Economist’ noted at the close of 2017 that the young are Impact Investing’s big hope. Having grown up in a digital age, millennials are both more exposed to the world’s woes, and more likely to use electronic investment tools. It then becomes clear for all to see that a powerful force for good which uses the best of modern technology to power its growth is unstoppable indeed.

And, where else would this change commence but from the education sector – an arena that reflects societal changes even before they take root in the real world. No surprise then that this millennial magic is already visible in the field of higher education. Under pressure from their alumni, several university endowments have promised to review their investment portfolios under a ‘socially responsible’ lens. Business schools are also reporting that classes related to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investments are oversubscribed. With ESG being the new mantra of the impact investment world, an increase in ESG investments invariably indicates increased uptake of impact investing as a global phenomenon.

So, what is the size of this global force for good? Global consultancy firm Deloitte estimates that, by 2020, millennials may control up to US$24trn. The vast stores of wealth at their disposal, coupled with their optimistic belief that they can ‘change the world’, means that they are set to take the world of impact investment by storm.

This is backed up by a survey in America by Morgan Stanley that is found in their “Sustainable Signals” report for 2017 which examines the findings of an impact-investing-focused survey of 1,000 active investors across the age spectrum, and is a sequel to a 2015 report on the same theme.

Morgan Stanley’s survey found that millennials have underpinned the growth of the market for impact investing. From 2015 to 2017, those who said they were very interested in impact investing grew by 10 percentage points, to 38%. The report also noted that Millennials “are twice as likely as the overall pool to invest in companies or funds that target social or environmental outcomes. A whopping 75% millennials agreed that their investments could influence climate change, compared with 58% of the overall population. They are also twice as likely as investors in general to check product packaging or invest in companies that espouse social or environmental objectives. And, like children of every generation, they influence their parents – baby boomers who have large fortunes of their own.

Meanwhile, a 2016 survey by the Toniic institute, the global action community for impact investors with members in 26 countries, showed that millennials surveyed across 6 continents were indeed interested in impact investing. While some are taking a portfolio approach, others are considering how to align their careers and their philanthropic activities with their values and impact investments.

However, they also cited various challenges in the way of playing a more active role in the impact investment space. Overall, the survey concluded that millennials need more support to realise their impact objectives. While the young generation demonstrates a thoughtful, rigorous approach to impact investing, they need more access to tailored capacity building in impact investing as well as robust investment channels across asset classes. Finally, while they currently leverage their friends and investor networks to access the right causes and companies to invest in, they also want to collaborate more with their family members and advisors.

It is clear then that the millennial generation needs more information on the impact investing space as they take crucial decisions about partnering with organisations and joining forces for social change. Impact investors that possess deep insights and access into markets that are otherwise complex to understand and tough to reach, can then make it easier for the millennial generation to maximise their impact.

GroFin is one such organisation that has pioneered impact investing in emerging economies across Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East & North Africa (MENA). With a unique, award winning model that provides Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs) not only with access to finance but also tailored business support, GroFin manages various funds through which millennials and other investors can participate in the challenging yet rewarding impact investment space in Africa and MENA.

With a primary focus on vital needs sectors such as education, healthcare, agribusiness, manufacturing and key services such as water, waste and energy, GroFin has achieved a high impact footprint across its 15 locations of operation. To illustrate, GroFin has supported 8,750 entrepreneurs, financed 673 SMEs, helped sustain 115,580 jobs and improved the lives of 577,905 people as at 31 December 2017.

So, partner with us and become a part of this exponential movement to change the lives of entrepreneurs and communities across Africa and MENA.

GroFin Ivory Coast client expands digital education reach

Ivory Coast is facing challenges in catering for a rapidly rising labour force, counting 14 million workers in 2015 and poised to rise to around 22 million by 2025. As more and more workers enter the emerging economy, the issue is not so much employment for everyone, as it is to guarantee a decent wage. Indeed, an average worker in Ivory Coast earns the equivalent of US$200 a month, lower than the average in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is here that vocational education has a crucial role to play in imparting usable skills to the youth, such that they are able to secure their future and deepen their contribution to the national economy. GroFin’s clientEcole des Spécialités Multimedia d’Abidjan (ESMA), is one such vocational education provider that is using our finance and support to expand the reach of digital education in Ivory Coast, with the ultimate objective of upskilling youth across the West African Economic and Monetary Union.

Founded in 2006, ESMA is the first private school specialised in multimedia across Francophone West Africa and focuses on the provision of quality education to post-graduate students in the field of digital communicationsmultimediaaudiovisual and web development.

Licensed and regulated by the Ivoirian Ministry of Superior Education, ESMA has a total of 39 classrooms with 39 permanent teachers and 34 permanent and contractual administrative staff. The school started with 75 students in 2006 and presently has two campuses with a total student population of 900. With the acquisition of a new campus in 2016, the school has increased its capacity and can now accommodate 3,000 students.

The key entrepreneur behind ESMA is Mr Doumbia Vakaba, who is a computer engineer and has more than 25 years’ experience in the field of digital mediaprintweb services and business management. Apart from ESMA, Mr Doumbia also runs Cevenol International Primary School, triggered by his concern for the education of both youthand children. Located in Gonzagueville, Port Bouët, a neighborhood where most residents hail from the lower class, Cevenol provides affordable and subsidised basic and primary education to around 450 pupils currently.

n 2017, Mr Doumbia approached GroFin for finance and support to both refinance an existing short-term loan for the acquisition of ESMA’s new premises as well as adequately equip classrooms in the new campus to allow the school to cater for more students. Upgrading ESMA’s capacity will also enable the school to cover a second target segment of students in the regional market of the UEMOA (West African Economic and Monetary Union) zone which does not have such elite schools to offer vocational training in visual communications and multimedia.

Based on GroFin’s finance and support, ESMA will be in a position to increase its student intake for the 2018 academic year to 1,100, then 1,300 in 2019 and finally 1,500 for 2020in the medium term alone. A suitable moratorium of upto 6 months has also been provided to give the client a leeway to build and operate the requisite infrastructurebefore repayment starts, to avoid stress on cash flow.

“GroFin understood our requirements for both a longer tenor loan as well as aligned repayments with our cash flows by providing a much-needed moratorium. Their finance and support will go a long way in helping us to reach our target long-term intake of 3,000 students who will benefit from superior education and contribute at full capacity to the economic growth of our country,” says Mr Doumbia.