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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.

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.

GroFin opens 16th office across Africa and MENA, to invest in SMEs in Senegal

GroFin, a pioneering SME development financier, has opened its office in Senegal, furthering its expansion into West Africa’s Francophone belt after Ivory Coast.

With the opening of this office, Senegalese entrepreneurs can expect to benefit from the unique model of appropriate, medium-term finance and specialised, value-added business support that GroFin extends to Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs) across its locations of operation.

Headquartered in Mauritius, GroFin currently has an investment footprint in 14 countriesacross Africa and the Middle East – straddling key economies in Eastern Africa, Western Africa, Southern Africa and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region – with one to two countries expected to be added each year.

GroFin’s latest in-country expansion heralds a new investment horizon for its flagship Small and Growing Businesses Fund (SGB Fund). Launched in September 2014 across nine African countries, the Fund has capital commitments of USD 100 million, making it one of the largest funds specifically targeting SGBs in Africa.

The SGB Fund follows on the fully invested GroFin Africa Fund, marking 13 years during which GroFin has supported over 8,500 entrepreneurs and invested in 640 SGBs, as well as sustained 104,950 jobs, benefitted 524,770 livelihoods and added economic value exceeding USD 700 m per annum through its investees, as at 30th June 2017.

With an evergreen structure, the SGB Fund was created by GroFin together with the Shell Foundation, an independent charity; the German Development Bank, KfW; the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries, Norfund; and the Dutch government through the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF).

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 and social 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.

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.