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GroFin Ghana honored at 14th Ghana-Africa Business Awards

GroFin won its second Gold Award in the Financial Services (SME Development) category Ghana-Africa Business Awards. GroFin has been operating in Ghana since 2010 and previously received the same award in 2015.

GroFin received both awards in recognition of its outstanding contribution to the development of Ghana, within the context of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). GroFin has invested over $30 million (USD) in 66 small and medium-sized businesses in the country. This investment allowed these businesses to sustain 3,224 jobs and to create 411 new direct jobs.  The Ghana-Africa Business Awards, now in their 14th year, are organised under the auspices of the Ghanaian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.

Samuel Sedegah, Investment Executive at GroFin Ghana, says the company is honored by this acknowledgment of its efforts to develop small and medium-sized businesses in the country.

“SMEs are a key driver of job creation and economic growth in developing economies, and already contribute over 70% of Ghana’s GDP. However, the potential of many of these businesses remains constrained by a lack of access to finance.”

Indeed, according to the latest World Bank Enterprise Survey, 49% of Ghanaian firms cite access to finance as their greatest obstacle. Sedegah explains that GroFin not only provides entrepreneurs with appropriate financing, but also with continuous business support to grow, and ensure their success.

“SMEs are prone to very high failure rates. GroFin helps entrepreneurs to overcome this by offering a combination of finance and expert advice and business support that improves their ability to manage the complexity of a growing business.”

GroFin’s 2015 Ghana-Africa Business Awards was also in the GOLD category, after the organizer’s held consultations with the Ghana Export Promotion Center, Ghana Investment Promotion Center, Ghana Free Zones Board and Ghana Tourism Authority.

About GroFin

GroFin is a pioneering private development financial institution specialising in financing and supporting small and growing businesses (SGBs) across Africa and the Middle East. We combine medium term loan capital and specialised business support to grow SGBs in emerging markets. By successfully combining medium term loans and specialised business support delivered through our local offices, we have invested in over 700 SMEs and sustained over 88,150 jobs across a wide spectrum of business activities within the 15 countries in Africa and Middle East that we operate in. GroFin has its headquarters located in Mauritius.

Media enquiries: Samuel Sedegah, [email protected]

GroFin Ivory Coast committed to supporting women entrepreneurs

Abidjan – GroFin is increasing its focus on developing women entrepreneurs. Guillaume Liby, Investment Executive at GroFin Ivory Coast, told media that women entrepreneurs in developing economies like Ivory Coast can play a powerful role in fostering economic growth and creating employment, but still face a wide range of challenges.

“All entrepreneurs face challenges, but women can find it even harder to overcome hurdles such as a lack of access to appropriate finance and business skills. GroFin believes our business model of combining tailored finance and business support is therefore very well suited to developing women entrepreneurs.”

The IFC’s Enterprise Finance Gap Database shows that more than two-thirds of formal women-owned SMEs in developing countries are either shut out by financial institutions or cannot find finance on the right terms. Liby says this gap needs to be addressed urgently.

“GroFin’s extensive experience in working with women entrepreneurs has shown us that women tend to plough back their income toward improving the well-being of their families and communities. This means that ensuring the development of women-owned businesses can have a far-reaching impact on addressing critical issues such as poverty and unemployment.”

GroFin has invested $36.5 million (USD) in 119 women-owned businesses and 30% of jobs sustained by GroFin clients are held by women. In Ivory Coast, 25% of GroFin’s investments have been in women-owned businesses and a third of the businesses in its current portfolio are owned by women. GroFin’s investment in Ivory Coast has created a total of 254 jobs in the country, which includes 101 jobs for women.

GroFin’s first client in Ivory Coast was in ICODI, a woman-owned business specialising in mobile money services and the retail of phone recharge cards.

“GroFin provided me with the financing to open to additional outlets and position my business much better amongst its peers. GroFin has become a trusted partner on my journey as a woman entrepreneur,” says Ndaw Zeinab Mariam, managing director and founder of ICODI.

Liby explains that GroFin also partners with organisations which focus specifically on women entrepreneurs to give its clients access to additional mentoring, networking opportunities and capacity building programmes.

GroFin is currently partnering with the International Trade Centre (ITC), in the SheTrades Invest initiative, which aims to increase investment in women-owned businesses in Ivory Coast and the other countries where Grofin operates. The initiative aims to connect three million women to market by 2021.  In addition, GroFin also has a partnership with the Vital Voices Global Partnership which allows women leaders to participate in skill-building and network development efforts in economic empowerment and entrepreneurship.

This year GroFin is also hosting a range of capacity building workshops for female entrepreneurs in most of the countries where it has a presence. The first Ivory Coast workshop for women entrepreneurs is set to take place on 26 April and will focus on the importance of management accounts in operating a business.

“GroFin is excited to share our knowledge and expertise with women entrepreneurs as we have seen first-hand what a big difference access to the right skills can make to the success of a small business,” Liby concludes.

About GroFin

GroFin is a pioneering private development financial institution specialising in financing and supporting small and growing businesses (SGBs) across Africa and the Middle East. We combine medium term loan capital and specialised business support to grow SGBs in emerging markets. By successfully combining medium term loans and specialised business support delivered through our local offices, we have invested in over 700 SMEs and sustained over 88,150 jobs across a wide spectrum of business activities within the 15 countries in Africa and Middle East that we operate in. GroFin has its headquarters located in Mauritius.

Media enquiries:

Guillaume Liby, Investment Executive at GroFin Ivory Coast on +225 2251 5135 , or email [email protected]

Former President Jakaya Kikwete visits Binti Africa Clothing Workshop

Former president Jakaya Kikwete has urged Tanzanians to support the local fashion industry and praised local fashion houses for producing high-quality clothing of international standards.

Mr Kikwete made these remarks during a recent visit to Binti Africa in February, the fashion house from which he has been buying his vintage African print shirts since his presidential tenure. Binti Africa specialises in the production of clothing from African textiles. It is the only fashion house styling the officials of the Tanzanian Government, with the current vice president of Tanzania, Honorable Samia Hassan Suluhu, among its clients.

Mr Kikwete was very impressed by Binti Africa’s workshop and the creativity and quality of its current designs. He congratulated Johari Sadiq, fashion designed and CEO, on being self-employed and for producing top-quality clothing which can compete in the global market.

Johari Sadiq, CEO of Binti Africa and GroFin Tanzania Entrepreneur

Johari Sadiq, CEO of Binti Africa and GroFin Tanzania Entrepreneur

Mrs Sadiq founded Binti Africa in 2009 at the age of only 23, but with no business background or experience in the fashion industry she struggled to access finance to grow the business. The ILO Women Entrepreneurs Survey 2014 revealed that 85% of women interviewed in Tanzania financed their start-ups from their own savings, mainly due to high interest rates and collateral requirements. It also indicated that access to business development services (BDS) is crucial for women entrepreneurs to strengthen their capacity to start, effectively manage and grow their business.

But Mrs Sadiq’s passion for fashion led her to persevere and 2016 she obtained the finance she needed to set up a modern factory from GroFin, a pioneering private development financial institution which specialises in financing and supporting small and growing businesses across Africa and the Middle East. GroFin provided Binti Africa with funding to acquire modern equipment and high-quality fabrics which enabled it to create the exquisite garments it has become known for.

“My advice to other women entrepreneurs is to never be afraid of failure. Massive failure leads to massive success. Take risks, be open to learning lessons and take criticism well. Believe in yourself, because what a man can do, a woman can do just as well,” Mrs Sadiq said about her journey as a women entrepreneur during an interview with GroFin last year.

Biotitiale shows small business can share in Ivory Coast mining boom

It is no secret that Africa needs to add much greater value to the metals and minerals extracted by the continent’s mining sector. Commentators often highlight the need to attract foreign investment to help move Africa up the value chain by building the capacity to process the commodities it currently exports.

Extracted by the continent’s mining sector. Commentators often highlight the need to attract foreign investment to help move Africa up the value chain by building the capacity to process the commodities it currently exports.

Yet, the important role that locally-owned small and medium-sized businesses can play in not only processing what mines produce, but also providing them crucial services, is easily overlooked. Biotitiale, an Ivorian consulting firm providing laboratory testing and analysis, has proven how access to finance and support can help small businesses to benefit from growth in an industry dominated by large players.

Biotitiale was founded in 2012 by Dr. Kossonou Yao Kamele to service mines in Côte d’Ivoire and the surrounding region. Holder of a Doctorate (PhD) in Food Science and Technology, Dr. Kamele spent seven years working for well-known companies, but was inspired by a passion for entrepreneurship to start Biotitiale.

The firm is dedicated to qualityenvironmenthygienesafety and health test and analysis. Biotitiale provides these services to help its clients to reduce risks, streamline processes and improve the sustainability of their operations. Its laboratory performs quality testing and analysis on a wide variety of substances including source and waste waterfoodstuffs, and soil and rocks. Biotitiale also provides training to help its clients to comply with environmental management and audit standards to meet ISOQHST and SST standards (Quality-Health-Safety-Environment).

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Côte d’Ivoire posted impressively high economic growth since 2012,  when political turmoil in the country began to recede and the business environment improved. Biotitiale was well-positioned to take advantage of this upswing, as well as a boom in the country’s mining industry after the implementation of a new mining code in 2014. Although the company secured contracts with large miners, its much larger competitors still hold the lion’s share in the market for laboratory and testing services in Côte d’Ivoire. This is not least because the industry is extremely capital intensive.

By 2017, Biotitiale had established a strong client base, but a shortage of capital to purchase new equipment was holding the business back. GroFin provided the company with financing to purchase new high-end laboratory equipment, which has greatly improved turnaround times and helped Biotitiale to gain additional market share.

The new equipment means that the Biotitiale’s laboratory can now perform between 300 and 500 sample analyses per day. Before this would have taken an entire week. This improved capacity means the firm can keep better pace with demand from the fast-growing mining industry, while GroFin’s business support has also helped Biotitiale to win new clients in other sectors through improving marketing.

The World Bank expects the Ivorian economy to grow by 7.3% during 2019 – which will keep it among the top performers in the Sub-Saharan region. Côte d’Ivoire’s Chamber of Mines also expects the mining sector to continue its expansion to contribute 5% of the country’s GDP by 2020. But at the same time, the IMF has pointed out that despite impressive economic growth in recent years, poverty level in Côte d’Ivoire has remained stubbornly high. The need to grow and ensure the sustainability of small businesses to boost job creation, therefore remains urgent.

Biotitiale has not only created and sustained much-needed jobs, but also continues to make a positive contribution to the growth of the Ivorian mining sector. Its services help mines to ensure the health and safety of their workers and to protect nearby communities and the natural environment.

GroFin honoured in Global SME Finance Awards

GroFin’s innovative SME development model of combining access to finance, business support and market-linkages has received further recognition through an Honourable Mention at this year’s Global SME Finance Awards.

The GroFin Small and Growing Businesses Fund (“SGB Fund”) recently received this accolade in the “Product Innovation of the Year” category. The Global SME Finance Awards recognize outstanding achievements of financial institutions and fintech companies, in delivering exceptional products and services to their SME clients and are endorsed by the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI).

GroFin receives Honorable Mention at Global SME Finance Awards 2018

Guido Boysen, CEO, says GroFin is honoured by this recognition which affirms the merit of its approach to developing small and medium-sized businesses.

“GroFin has demonstrated how the typically very high fail rate among SMEs can be mitigated and through a model that is scalable. This means that GroFin’s approach can be replicated to make an even greater contribution to the development of emerging economies.”

Finance provided through the SGB Fund, coupled with business support interventions, have ensured that the SGB Fund has a viability rate of 86%, compared to a failure rate of 70- 90% for SMEs in emerging economies.

Guido Boysen says the SGB Fund is also regarded as innovative in its design to not only achieve socio-economic impact objectives, but also to generate sustainable returns for its investors.

“The ability to generate financial returns attracts investors and greatly strengthens the sustainability of the fund. This is crucial to any developmental project or fund which hopes to make a lasting impact.”

Earlier this year GroFin won the ICAEW and A4S Finance for the Future Awards, in the Building Sustainable Financial Products category, as well as the 2018 Islamic Economy Award in the ‘SME Development’ category.

About GroFin

GroFin is a pioneering private development financial institution specialising in financing and supporting small and growing businesses (SGBs) across Africa and the Middle East. We combine medium term loan capital and specialised business support to grow SGBs in emerging markets. By successfully combining medium term loans and specialised business support delivered through our local offices, we have invested in over 700 SMEs and sustained over 88,150 jobs across a wide spectrum of business activities within the 15 countries in Africa and Middle East that we operate in. GroFin has its headquarters located in Mauritius.

About the GroFin Small and Growing Businesses Fund (“SGB Fund”)

Established in 2014 and based on GroFin’s then decade-long experience in supporting entrepreneurs across emerging economies in Africa, the GroFin Small and Growing Businesses Fund (“SGB Fund”) focuses on SGBs that are typically neglected by traditional financiers and even conventional SME funds – the SME “missing middle” segment.

The Fund’s unique model integrates access to finance, business development skills and market linkages to ensure job creation at scale and facilitates the provision of vital services to low income households. It focuses on high impact sectors including education, healthcare, agribusiness, manufacturing and key services and further envelop women and youth as beneficiaries of its model.

GroFin wins Islamic Economy Awards 2018 in SME Development category

GroFin is pleased to announce that it has won the 2018 Islamic Economy Award in the ‘SME Development’ category. The winners were announced at the Awards ceremony held in Dubai this Wednesday 30 October 2018.

The Islamic Economy Award was launched in 2013 under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and directed by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council.

The Islamic Economy Award is managed independently by Thomson Reuters and is adjudicated by an esteemed judges’ panel based on formal, established criteria.

GroFin was represented by its Regional Investment Director for the Middle East and North Africa region, Mohamed Hawary, who collected the award on behalf of the company.

“This award is testimony to the efforts made by GroFin to ensure its products are accessible to one and all. We, at GroFin, are determined to provide our clients with financing that respects the customs and beliefs of our clients,” says Mohamed Hawary.

GroFin wins 2018 Islamic Economy Awards in the category of 'SME Development'

HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council, presents award to Mohamed Hawary, GroFin Regional Investment Director for the Middle East and North Africa region

HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council, presents award to Mohamed Hawary, GroFin Regional Investment Director for the Middle East and North Africa region

The Islamic Economy Award is held every year and has the following categories; Money and Finance, Media, Food and Health, Waqf and Endowments, SME Development, Islamic Economy Knowledge Infrastructure, Islamic Arts, Hospitality and Tourism, and the Lifetime Achievement Award.

This is the second prestigious award for GroFin this year as it also won Finance for the Future Awards in the Building Sustainable Financial Products category. Finance for the Future Awards is run by ICAEW and A4S along with their partner Deloitte.

About GroFin

GroFin is a pioneering private development financial institution specialising in financing and supporting small and growing businesses (SGBs) across Africa and the Middle East. We combine medium term loan capital and specialised business support to grow SGBs in emerging markets. By successfully combining medium term loans and specialised business support delivered through our local offices, we have invested in over 700 SMEs and sustained over 88,150 jobs across a wide spectrum of business activities within the 15 countries in Africa and Middle East that we operate in. GroFin has its headquarters located in Mauritius.

GroFin wins its category at the 2018 Finance for the Future Awards

GroFin is pleased to announce that it is the winner of the Finance for the Future Awards, in the Building Sustainable Financial Products category.

Finance for the Future Awards is run by ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) and A4S (The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project) along with their partner Deloitte. The prestigious awards saw nominees, in the different categories, such as HSBC (UK), Coca Cola and Standard Bank Group amongst others.

With the Building Sustainable Financial Products category, the nominees competing with GroFin were the highly-recognised and highly-respected nominees, namely, Abundance Investment (UK), Environmental Finance (UK), QBE (Australia) and Yes Bank (India).

The award ceremony took place in London on the 16th of October and GroFin was represented by its CFO William Morkel who collected the award on behalf of the company.

“I would like to dedicate this award to our employees, as well as our clients and investors. It is testimony to the collective effort we undertake here at GroFin to bring about positive social and financial impact in the lives of the people we serve,” says Guido Boysen, GroFin CEO.

GroFin wins 2018 Finance for the Future Awards

Finance for the Future Awards is held every year and has six categories namely; Embedding an integrated approach, Innovative project, Communicating integrated thinking, Investing and financing, Building sustainable financial products and Driving change through education, training and academia.

About GroFin

GroFin is a pioneering private development financial institution specialising in financing and supporting small and growing businesses (SGBs) across Africa and the Middle East. We combine medium term loan capital and specialised business support to grow SGBs in emerging markets. By successfully combining medium term loans and specialised business support delivered through our local offices, we have invested in over 700 SMEs and sustained over 88,150 jobs across a wide spectrum of business activities within the 15 countries in Africa and Middle East that we operate in. GroFin has its headquarters located in Mauritius.

Media enquiries:

Sharmila Kowlessur (Chief Marketing Officer – GroFin) on +230 452 9156 , or email [email protected]

Notes to editors:

ICAEW connects over 147,000 chartered accountants worldwide, providing this community of professionals with the power to build and sustain strong economies.

Training, developing and supporting accountants throughout their career, we ensure that they have the expertise and values to meet the needs of tomorrow’s businesses.

Our profession is right at the heart of the decisions that will define the future, and we contribute by sharing our knowledge, insight and capabilities with others. That way, we can be sure that we are building robust, accountable and fair economies across the globe.

ICAEW is a member of Chartered Accountants Worldwide (CAW), which brings together 11 chartered accountancy bodies, representing over 1.6m members and students globally.

The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S)

The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) was established by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2004. Our aim is to make sustainable decision making business as usual.

We work with the finance and accounting community to:

  • Inspire finance leaders to adopt sustainable and resilient business models
  • Transform financial decision making to enable an integrated approach, reflective of the opportunities and risks posed by environmental and social issues
  • Scale up action across the global finance and accounting community

A4S has three global networks: the Chief Financial Officers Leadership Network, a group of CFOs from leading organizations seeking to transform finance and accounting; the Accounting Bodies Network whose members comprise approximately two thirds of the world’s accountants; and, the Asset Owners Network which brings together Pension Fund Chairs to integrate sustainability into investment.

www.accountingforsustainability.org

Deloitte

In this press release references to “Deloitte” are references to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”) a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see deloitte.com/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

Deloitte LLP is a subsidiary of Deloitte NWE LLP, which is a member firm of DTTL, and is among the UK’s leading professional services firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

For more information, please visit www.deloitte.co.uk.

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

Giving Tanzania women entrepreneurs their place in the sun

Women entrepreneurs play a pivotal role in the private sector comprising microsmall and medium enterprises in TanzaniaWomen owned enterprises increased from 35%in early 1990s to 54.3% in 2012, according to estimates by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The ILO Women Entrepreneurs Survey 2014 revealed that 85% of women interviewed in Tanzania financed their start-ups from their own savings, mainly due to high interest rates and collateral requirements. It also indicated that access to business development services (BDS) is crucial for women entrepreneurs to strengthen their capacity to start, effectively manage and grow their business.

Apart from limited access to finance and business development services, women also face challenges unique to their gender, which may influence the decisions they make when starting or growing their business. Research shows that women owned enterprises do not grow at the same rate compared to businesses owned by men; most of them remain small. In Tanzania, of the 1.716 million women-owned enterprises estimated in existence by the ILO, over 99% are micro enterprises with fewer than five employees and almost three-quarters have only one employee.

We turned to three successful women entrepreneurs in Dar-es-Salaam whose businesses have grown with GroFin’s finance and support, to share their insights on what it takes for women to start and grow their enterprises in Tanzania.

First up, Ms. Johari Amour Sadik is the founder, head designer and owner director of BintiAfrica, which specialises in the production of clothing and accessories made from African textiles, with sales outlets at ADA Estate Kinondoni and at Mbezi.

Next is Ms. Edditrice Temba, who runs Mambo Jambo Tours and Travels located at C & G Plaza, Mikocheni B along Mwai Kibaki Road.

Rounding up the powerhouse trio is Ms. Anna Habib Mponezya, who powers Bahari Bakery, a multi-presence café and bakery with its flagship outlet at Kunduchi Beach, Kichangani.

Excerpts from a joint interview:


1. Research shows that most women-led businesses stay small. In your view, what holds back women entrepreneurs from growing their businesses?

Johari:  In my experience, cultural background, social and political territory provide the primary grounds for challenges that hinder women entrepreneurs from growing their businesses.

In our society, girls and boys are perceived and treated differently, and as they assume their place as adults, men are necessarily regarded as superior to women.

While I consider this thinking primitive, it exerts a major influence on our society and is responsible for the social prejudice directed against women. In short, it has been ingrained in our minds that women are better suited for work within the home and men are better at risk-taking.

Against this social backdrop, it is very challenging for women entrepreneurs to: –

  • Be strong enough to defy social expectations
  • Find mentors, preferably other women entrepreneurs, who can support and guide them in the start-up stage
  • Have access to sufficient or appropriate funding
  • Create or establish a proper networking system
  • Earn respect in this male-dominated industry
  • Balance work and family life
  • Overcome a constantly lurking fear of failure

Edditrice: To my mind, the main reasons women entrepreneurs stay small are as follows:

  • Very limited access to finance
  • Lack of adequate initial seed capital to start on a strong footing.
  • Lack of acceptable collateral as required by banks
  • Social stereotypes which tend to view women as weak business leaders
  • Lack of business networking – most women business owners face a challenge in building meaningful business / social networks which could easily translate into better business prospects for them.
  • Lack of entrepreneurial skills – most women start a business based on a passion that they have but once the business is up and running, they tend to fall back into the mundane routine of managing the business. In the process, they forget to upgrade their entrepreneurial skills through continuous education and knowledge within their specific industries.

Anna: As a primary challenge faced by women entrepreneurs in the path of growing their business, many of them do not have access to credit to support their business, largely due to cultural norms. For instance, to obtain credit, one must produce collateral, while many such collaterals are in the names of their husbands, or partners.

Another impediment is male chauvinism, due to which businesses owned by women are considered second-class.


2. Can you tell us about any gender specific challenges you faced in starting your business?

Johari: I started this business when I was only 23 years old. Fashion has always been my passion since childhood, therefore I never saw myself doing anything else apart from what I am doing now.

I have been employed twice but the idea of putting my talent and creative thinking on hold just to make a living in a corporate world was so unsatisfying that I decided to walk away and never look back. Thus, I took a huge leap of faith.

On this journey, some of the toughest challenges I faced as a woman entrepreneur were;

  • Lack of experienced mentors: I never had an experienced mentor to guide me and give me perspective. My family and friends were my support system and my mother was my closest mentor. Since none of them were experienced entrepreneurs, everything amounted to learning by doing which was very challenging indeed.
  • Access to funding: Who in his/her right mind will be willing to fund a 20-something female entrepreneur with no business background or experience in the world of fashion and only passion for her line of work? Besides having no capital or assets to put as collateral, no recommendations or influential people to vouch for her work?
  • Avoiding culture vultures: Some even wanted to take advantage of my age and feminism on the pretext of supporting me.
  • Establishing a proper network: I had to constantly prove my worth by working twice as hard as everyone else, rising beyond expectations, being very determined and never losing sight of who I am, where I came from and where I wanted to be.
  • Balancing work and family: While constantly working, it is hard to always be available for your family and friends. However, it certainly helps to have a supportive and understanding family that always has your back and a few close friends who share the same goals as you.
  • Constantly fighting the fear of failure

Edditrice: As a woman entrepreneur, I faced these specific challenges:

  • We lacked adequate seed capital to start on a strong footing. We had to grow gradually from ground up with initial capital and grow slowly but steadily by reinvesting profits back into the business.
  • Being a married woman, it was a challenge to meet men for business meetings, at least at the very start of my innings in the business world. So, it is fair to say that I too experienced some social stereotypes first hand.
  • Suffering from a do-it-alone mentality of trying to multi-task and do everything on my own.
  • Facing staff management issues in terms of retaining staff in the initial stages of the business, because, well, you are a woman and they tend to take you less seriously.
  • Lack of confidence, a predicament I believe many women would relate to.
  • Understanding the market and creating a niche for myself based on my business strengths, by overcoming perception issues against women business owners and getting stakeholders to focus on my business instead.

Anna: Dealing with regulatory bodies in Tanzania is hard if you are a woman. You are considered an outsider, making it comparatively hard to get permits.


3. What were the steps you took to overcome these challenges?

Johari: To get past these challenges:

  • I accepted the fact that this journey will be more than tough and no one would ever have compassion on me because I chose this path for myself. Moreover, society expected me to fail as a young, inexperienced woman, thus failure was not an option.
  • I surrounded myself with well-minded and focused people who constantly motivated me, advised me, pointed out my mistakes and grounded me.
  • I constantly set goals for myself, learnt from my mistakes, sought and listened to advice, listened to criticism and learnt from my peers.
  • I got involved in events and workshops, learnt the practices of the fashion industry and how it is evolving worldwide, thus continuously educating myself on latest trends and developments.
  • I created a proper networking base.
  • I constantly tried to perform beyond expectations with hard work and perseverance.
  • I stayed truthful to who I am, what I want and what my goals are.
  • I learnt to be aggressive and competitive.

Edditrice: I followed these steps to overcome my challenges:

  • Underwent training in business skills and people management skills.
  • Started attending more business networking events and exhibitions.
  • Involved my husband more in the business, rather than relegating him to the role of a silent partner.
  • Gained more confidence as a business owner as I realised that some of the earlier challenges were caused in fact by a general lack of confidence in myself.
  • Increased personal and business networks within and outside the industry.
  • As I gained more experience in the business, I also developed a better understanding of the market and the needs of my customers.

Anna: Persistence and perseverance were my arsenal in successfully overcoming my challenges.


4. Who has supported you on the difficult path of entrepreneurship?

Johari: I would not have been able to walk this path were it not for:

  • First and foremost, my family, which has constantly had by back by believing in me.
  • My closest friends – those who shared the same mindset and goals as me.
  • My team, which has played a significant role in every success the business has had and continues to have.

Edditrice: The following have been pillars of my support system:

  • GroFin, whose finance and support is a big boost. I can now clearly see my vision and dream of Mambo Jambo Tours and Travel becoming a respectable mid-sized corporate entity come to fruition.
  • My husband and partner, who complements my efforts and endeavours.
  • A few mentors within the tourism industry, whose insights and business advice have come to my rescue at the time I most needed them. I have also benefited in terms of having developed some very useful business relationships along the way.

Anna: I must appreciate the support of my husband, Habib Mponezya, in overcoming the hurdles that I faced on the challenging path of entrepreneurship. He supported me not only morally, but also financially where he could. My friends also motivated me with their ideas and suggestions.


5. What is the advice you would offer to other women entrepreneurs?

Johari: My advice to other women entrepreneurs is to never be afraid of failure. Massive failure leads to massive success. At the very least, you can never succeed in business without failing at some point. Take risks, be open to learning lessons and take criticism well. Work with others, educate yourself through books, social media or any other tool, but mostly, open yourself up to learn from your peers.  Believe in yourself, because what a man can do, a woman can do just as well.

Edditrice: I would like to offer the following tips to other women entrepreneurs:

  • You can achieve anything you set your mind to. Challenges eventually make you stronger and wiser as you overcome them and navigate your way to becoming an entrepreneur who commands respect.
  • Maintain your strong values and uphold quality standards. Remember, as a business owner, you are the brand ambassador of the company.
  • Build on relationships and business connections. No one succeeds alone. Relationships are a great means to win and retain customers for your business too. After all, business research shows that people like doing business with their friends.

Anna: Trust yourself. You can achieve anything so long as you persevere and take steps in the right direction. Also, once you have secured capital through credit, do not divert it to non-business expenditures.


So, can other Joharis, Edditrices and Annas expect to find their place in the sun anytime soon?

The future looks exciting indeed for women entrepreneurs in the region. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2016/17 Women’s Report finds that Sub-Saharan Africa leads the way in female entrepreneurship globally, with nearly 26% of the female adult population engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activity in the region. Even more heartening is that almost 62% African women entrepreneurs said they started a business because they are taking advantage of opportunity, rather than out of necessity.

However, Sub-Saharan Africa also has the highest discontinuance rate – at 8.4%. As many as 56% of women entrepreneurs in the region cite either unprofitability or lack of finance as a reason for closing their business. At GroFin, we provide women entrepreneurs with pre-finance business support to make their businesses investment-ready, as well as widen access to finance for those eligible to receive our funding and post-finance business support.

With investments in 113 businesses owned by women and a third of the jobs sustained by our investees held by women, GroFin holds women empowerment central to its investment philosophy. If you are a woman entrepreneur looking for a combination of finance and support to take your business to the next level, we invite you to check if you qualify by filling our pre-assessment questionnaire here.

GroFin Rwanda deepens agribusiness reach in East Africa

After transforming Rwanda into a model for conflict-affected states, the Government of Rwanda is now focusing its reform efforts on a vital needs sector: agribusiness. What makes this sector so crucial is that over 75% of Rwanda’s workforce is concentrated in agriculture. Against this backdrop, GroFin is deepening its efforts to reach out to agribusinesses such as Yak Fair Trade Ltd, based in the Rwamagana district of Rwanda’s Eastern Province.

Yak Fair Trade Ltd was founded by entrepreneur couple Mediatrice Uwingabire and Janvier Gasasira in 2010. The agribusiness works hard to improve the quality of maize and beans, two of the most consumed staple foods of East African Community, through a project aimed at controlling quality from production to final consumption. The company has signed exclusive supply contracts with 65,000 farmers grouped into 52 cooperatives in Eastern, Southern and Northern Provinces, both ensuring grain supply for its own use as well as benefitting farmer livelihoods in its community. It also sells the surplus to other institutions such as the World Food ProgramAfrica Improved Food and UNHCR.

Besides, given the importance of animal protein as a readily available source of nutrition to low income households, Yak Fair Trade Ltd is also diversifying into the processing of quality cowsgoatrabbitfishpork, and chicken meat through a mini-processing plant that it has recently installed in Kigali-Nyarugenge. The plant relies principally on supplies from small holder farmers supported by the Girinka project. The One Cow per poor family or Girinka project is based on the premise that providing a dairy cow to poor households helps to improve their livelihood by commercialising dairy products. Since its introduction in 2006, more than 203,000 families have benefited from the programmewith a target of reaching 350,000 Rwandese families by end 2017.

In August 2017, Yak Fair Trade approached GroFin for finance to expand the milling capacity of its maize flour plant that currently produces at 40% of its daily production capacity. In addition, the agribusiness secured a sizeable new supply contract from Africa Improved Food (AIF) in mid-2017. A joint venture created in 2015 between Government of Rwanda and a consortium of four partners: Royal DSM, the majority shareholder, the Dutch Development Bank (FMO) and the British government’s development finance institution CDC Group; AIF produces high quality nutritious complementary foods for infants as well as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

In addition, for its meat processing venture, the company needed finance to purchase a distribution van with refrigeration capabilities for easy distribution of meat products to consumers within Kigali.

Apart from finance, GroFin is also assisting the business with conducting a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment and re-defining the duties and responsibilities of the main shareholders towards improved corporate governance.

GroFin’s capacity to extend business support to agribusinesses such as Yak Fair Trade has been enhanced by a grant from the USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (the Hub)The grant will involve GroFin screening 200 agribusinesses and offering tailor-made technical assistance to promising SMEs across Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, ensuring that many more agribusinesses such as Yak Fair Trade can benefit from this partnership between GroFin and the Hub.

Already, this grant has catalysed the creation of 55 skilled and semi-skilled jobs as well as sustained 16 existing jobs at Yak Fair Trade. Moreover, all 65,000 farmers that supply to Yak Fair Trade will benefit from the enhanced business value chain. Finally, our investment and support has high implications for women empowerment as the company is led by a female CEO and female employment stands at 43%.

With GroFin’s finance and support, we are set to deepen our reach to farmers, expand employment to four times the current levels, and improve food security for the community,” concludes Janvier, the company’s co-founder and Chief Operations Officer.