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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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CEHt95CJujn/?utm_source=ig_embed

Jordan SME grows while rebuilding lives of Syrian refugees

Arabella for Aluminium provides employment opportunities to refugees in one of Jordan’s poorest governates.

Former lawyer, Mohamed Darwish, is lucky to have a job on Arabella’s factory floor. Darwish is one of the estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees presently living in Jordan. His family may have escaped the death and destruction of war when they fled from Aleppo in Syria, but building a new life is not easy.

With close to a third of Jordan’s private sector labour force employed by SMEs, the sector has a crucial role to play in addressing the refugee crisis. And with Arabella located just a few kilometres away from the Zaatari Refugee Camp in the Governate or Irbid, this SME offers a rare employment opportunity at a decent wage to both Syrians and local workers.

Under the Nomou Programme, Arabella is a GroFin Jordan SME client that specialises in aluminum extrusion, fabrication, decoration, and surface treatment & coating. In 2015, GroFin provided the company with financing to purchase equipment and complete infrastructure work at its new production site. But only a few months after it started operations, an unexpected halt in production could easily have seen the business fail.

When cracks appeared in three of the company’s extrusion press containers – which are crucial to its production process – it had no choice but to halt operations. Two of the containers were shipped to Thailand for repairs and while the third was repaired locally, the process still took several months.

Arabella was soon unable to meet its obligations to GroFin and would have defaulted under a traditional financing framework – likely forfeiting its assets and going under. However, GroFin’s model provides room to adapt its financing to the needs of the client and was able to devise an alternative payment plan to allow Arabella to overcome this difficult period.

“Not all business support is about increasing sales and revenue. It is also about helping the client to survive and overcome tough times.”

Wael Sunna, Investment Manager at GroFin Jordan, says small and medium-sized businesses are extremely vulnerable to shocks and the ability to overcome such unexpected setbacks is key to their survival. “Not all business support is about increasing sales and revenue. It is also about helping the client to survive and overcome tough times,” Sunna explains.

GroFin has also provided Arabella with further advice to improve its cash flow through negotiating better payment terms with suppliers and improving collections from clients through shorter payment terms. In 2017, GroFin provided the company with additional funding needed to boost its stock of aluminum pellets to meet higher demand for its products.

With GroFin’s support, Arabella has been able to continuously increase its production and sales. At the end of 2018, the company employed 84 workers, compared to 49 a year before, 20% of whom are Syrians. Arabella continues to grow and is expanding its production facilities even further through the addition of a new furnace for processing scrap aluminum.

“GroFin became our partner when banks refused our loan applications. In the beginning we were short of experience, but we found all the support we needed in GroFin.”

Mr. Sobhi Al Zubi, the entrepreneur behind Arabella, says he will never forget GroFin’s support and loyalty to his business. “GroFin became our partner when banks refused our loan applications. In the beginning we were short of experience, but we found all the support we needed in GroFin. They were there to help us with everything from planning to marketing and sales,” he says.

Sobhi says perseverance and determination were crucial to his success.

“I am always positive, despite the setbacks. I always keep looking forward – never back. You have to feel successful on the inside, then even people who start from nothing can become successful.”

Learn more about the The Nomou Programme and GroFin funding and business support for entrepreneurs and SMEs in the Middle East.

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 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.

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.