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

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.