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GroFin helps GIA Bridals respond to COVID-19 crisis with new clothing line

COVID-19 has forced couples around the world to postpone or change their wedding plans. The virus has not only left many couples in tears – wedding vendors are just as heartbroken.

In Nigeria, the popularity of large and lavish weddings has created a million-dollar industry serviced by many small businesses. With Nigerians forced to put their wedding plans on hold due to COVID-19, many of these businesses – and the jobs they create – are now in jeopardy.

GIA Bridals, a GroFin client located in Port Harcourt, makes and rents bespoke wedding gowns to brides. The Aspire Small Business Fund (ASBF) invested in GIA Bridals in 2014 and 2017, providing the business with working capital and enabling the entrepreneur to lease and equip a larger space. Since ASBF’s investment, the business posted consistent increases in its sales and revenue.

But this year, GIA was forced to remain closed for three months during the COVID-19 lockdown in Nigeria and the business did not make any sales. Although GIA resumed operations in July, business is still slow. GIA’s owner, Ngozi Brisibe, says it would be devasting to her and her staff if her business was forced to close for good.

“We all depend on the business as our only source of livelihood.”

Ngozi Brisibe, Owner – GIA Bridals

GIA Bridals employs 11 people – 10 of whom are women. Chioma Patrick does the beadwork on GIA’s wedding gowns and has been working there for five years, supporting her mother. “This job has made it possible for me to earn my own money and I am not depending on or begging anyone to provide my basic needs. It makes me feel great and gives me confidence,” she says.

GroFin shared a customised Business Resilience Tool Kit – rolled out across the group to help clients respond to the pandemic – to help Ngozi analyse the impact on her business and especially its cashflow. “GroFin’s staff was consistently calling to find out how we were doing and providing advice on what can be done,” she says.

Ngozi’s biggest concern was whether she will be able to sustain the business until economic activity is fully restored.

“We suggested that she pivots her business away from only focusing on wedding dresses by using existing equipment for other products”

Charles Chikezie, GroFin Senior Industry Expert

Ngozi has responded by launching MyLadyUrban, a new line of women’s clothing. She says the new brand seeks to represent women as “both feminine and powerful” and will allow GIA to clothe its clients before, during, and after their weddings. “Although things seemed bad now, there’s hope for us with this new line of business,” Ngozi concludes.

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GroFin receives high accolade at Nigerian Healthcare Excellence Awards

GroFin Nigeria won the Outstanding Healthcare Project-Friendly Financial Institution of the Year Award at the Nigerian Healthcare Excellence Awards (NHEA) 2019.

The award recognises banks and financial institutions that have created an inclusive innovative financing model for healthcare entrepreneurs or healthcare SMEs across the value chain. NHEA is an initiative of Global Health Project and Resources in Partnership with Anadach group and celebrates organisations who have contributed immensely to the growth of the Nigerian healthcare sector.

Felix Ezeh, Investment Executive at GroFin Nigeria, felt honoured that GroFin was recognised for this prestigious award:

“By this award, the public that voted for GroFin made a statement that they are appreciative of the work we are doing.  We heard them.  Our promise to them is that this award will only spur us to do more.”

NHEA’s recognition aims to stimulate quality improvement and innovation in the Nigerian health sector leading to improved service delivery & management of key health issues and the capacity of individuals to influence and set new performance standards in Nigeria & beyond.

GroFin’s unique model of combining finance and business support helps healthcare entrepreneurs and SMEs overcome challenges and improves their ability to manage the complexity of a growing business. GroFin has dedicated healthcare investment and business support expertise, both through its in-house healthcare “industry experts” and through formal partnerships with specialist healthcare partners like Medical Credit Fund (MCF).

GroFin’s healthcare portfolio in Africa and the Middle East consists of investments made in 41 SMEs, representing a total investment of US$ 16M, across the value chain of businesses in the healthcare industry including hospitals, clinics, dental facilities, maternal care and pharmaceutical outlets. Business support offered by GroFin includes a business planning framework, quality management systems, cash flow advice, medical waste management systems as well as operations and management expertise. And through its investments, GroFin has over 277,280 patients able to obtain medical care services annually and has helped sustain a total of 3,950 healthcare related jobs.

The NHEA 2019 brought further good news as a GroFin Nigeria exited client Healthplus Limited won Retailer of the Year Award, further helping to cement GroFin’s impact in the health sector of Nigeria.

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: Felix Ezeh, [email protected]

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.

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.

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.