It is a new dawn for youth in Kwale as Invest in Africa (IIA) in collaboration with Base Titanium Limited unveils a business acceleration program to formalize and catalyze the growth of youth-owned/led micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Kwale County. The initiative, named the Kwale Youth Biashara Program, involves formalizing businesses, business skills and finance training, digital skills training, business coaching, and linkages to market and finance. Under this initiative, IIA will provide young entrepreneurs with tailored capacity building through training sessions and boot camps. The young entrepreneurs will also have an opportunity to onboard their businesses onto the Biashara.Now, IIA’s unique technology-based business membership platform, to access procurement opportunities within the IIA network among other business services.

Youth make up to 75% of the Kenyan population, according to the 2019 Population and Census results. This statistic means that the country stands on the runway of economic take-off if it finds the best way to harness the energy, creativity, and entrepreneurship that young people can offer.

However, young entrepreneurs in Kenya face a myriad of challenges that curtail their success in the entrepreneurship venture. Lack of business skills and experience is one of the main setbacks ailing the take-off of youth-led businesses. Research has shown that most MSMEs, the majority of which are youth-led, do not have a business plan, are not formally registered, and do not have financial records. These MSMEs do not meet the minimal criteria to access industry opportunities, including the necessary financing to grow.

According to a 2022 survey conducted by IIA in Kwale, young entrepreneurs lack the business and digital literacy skills needed to run an enterprise successfully. The survey also revealed that most youth-led enterprises do not have access to finance and trade opportunities due to a lack of the requisite compliance and a failure to meet procurement requirements. These findings agree with an earlier study undertaken in 2020 by IIA in Kwale and Turkana Counties: The impact of COVID-19 on Rural Small and Growing Businesses and Recommended Measures to build their long-term Resilience.

The Kwale Youth Biashara Program comes in handy to enable young entrepreneurs to navigate the modern-day business environment. The program will equip the participating entrepreneurs with the necessary skills to formally run their businesses. It will also support them throughout their compliance journeys by ensuring they can register their enterprises and acquire the obligatory trade requirements. Through coaching, which is part of the program, the entrepreneurs will understand and incorporate key business elements such as ESG, investor readiness, and entrepreneurship mindset shift. This intervention will improve trade for youth-led businesses by allowing them to fully trade in the various value chains and position them for funding opportunities. By signing up for Biashara Now, the youth-led enterprises can apply for tender opportunities from big, developed enterprises such as Base Titanium Limited, which form part of IIA’s network of corporates, multinationals, and development partners.

IIA’s vision is to be the leading network in accelerating trade and investment with small and growing businesses in Africa. The organization hopes to achieve this by empowering enterprises to create sustainable jobs by improving access to skills, markets, and finance. The Kwale Youth Biashara Program, under the partnership with Base Titanium Limited, aligns with one of IIA’s key focus areas to engender the inclusion of youth in enterprise to champion inclusive private sector growth and catalyze MSMEs.

IIA acknowledges partnership as a core value and is keen to collaborate with key players in the business field to implement initiatives geared toward driving sustainable economic prosperity. The organization recognizes the immense contribution of MSMEs to the Kenyan economy. As such, IIA understands the need to empower high-potential groups such as the youth to grow MSMEs as key to bolstering the economy.

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As a business owner/leader, is your business viable for funding opportunities?

For Lyimmo Magani, this question began to linger in his mind when he noticed his funding requests to expand his business were either turned down or never replied.

Lyimmo is the founder and CEO of L's Food Lab Ltd, a Kenyan-based manufacturing start-up. L's Food Lab Ltd, which goes by the name brand Adisia, manufactures consumable products that include seasoning spices and sauces such as chill, ketchup, and mayonnaise.

When he founded L's Food Lab Ltd in 2019, Lyimmo hoped to lead the company through a flawless growth trajectory. His dream was to acquire a 15% market share, create more jobs, and impact society through charitable programs.

However, along the way, Lyimmo faced setbacks in attempts to raise the funds he required to grow his business. He used to send out funding requests to investors and financiers, but they rejected, and others never replied. Lyimmo’s business, like most micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Kenya, was unattractive to funders and investors.

Lack of access to finance is one of the main challenges curtailing the growth of MSMEs. While formality (possession of formal business documents) is a requirement to access finance, most MSMEs operate within the informal sector and do not qualify for the minimum funding criteria by investors and financiers. This challenge means that MSMEs have continued to struggle with inadequate access to finance, causing most of them to die within the first few years of their inception.

“I went out there to look for funds to jump-start the growth of my business, but I could not convince any investor or financier because, as I realize later, my business was not viable for funding at the moment." says Lyimmo Magani.

While browsing online for potential solutions to his business ailment, Lyimmo learned about Invest in Africa's (IIA) investor readiness program. He knew his turning point had come and enrolled in the program. According to Lyimmo, the program enabled him to understand how he could bring order to his business to make it attractive to external stakeholders.  

He says that "Through the IIA investor readiness program, I learned how I could effectively govern and manage my business, and the importance of rolling out structures like audited accounts, and financial projections”. He adds that the program enabled him to understand the business structures and processes gaps that needed attention for his company to be viable for external funding.  

IIA is a not-for-profit organization focused on empowering MSMEs to grow and scale by improving their access to skills, finance, and markets. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, IIA designed a business resilience initiative that included an MSME investor readiness program. The 8-month training and finance facilitation program was aimed at supporting MSMEs to comply with the requisite business frameworks to access growth finance from investors and financial institutions.

Three months after graduating from the program, Lyimmo Magani is pleased with the immense impact this has had on his business. Through the program, he developed a professional funding pitch deck that has kicked off promising funding conversations. Lyimmo has completed audited accounts for his business, predicting his revenue and profit margins. He has further developed a financing model which has enabled him to identify financial gaps and mitigation actions for his business.

By applying business governance lessons learned in the program, Lyimmo restructured his business model, necessitating him to employ more staff to fill the gaps he found. He says that the business has clear structures that can enable them to achieve growth milestones. “Right now, we can pitch correctly for funding, and I am confident that we will expand to manufacturing more than ten different products before the end of this year. I also believe that we will improve our market share to more than 10% in the Kenyan Market within two years,” adds Lyimmo.

IIA acknowledges the immense contribution of MSMEs to job creation and the economy. As such, the organization is keen to enhance the capacity of MSMEs to actively partake in trade by positioning them for market and finance opportunities. IIA has continued to implement initiatives, such as the investor readiness program, that align with its mission of empowering enterprises to create sustainable jobs.

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The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. In the case of Nicodem Mayison, Director and Founder of Palma Group Limited, he decided not to give up on his business which had been disrupted by war.

Since 2010 Palma Group Limited, a supply, and logistics firm, had been operating mainly in South Sudan, though registered in Kenya as well. Business was good until conflict broke out in 2016, causing the entrepreneur to lose about $ 1.2 million worth of equipment and ongoing contracts, leading to a shutdown.

While waiting for the conflict to be resolved, Nick launched Palma Organic Farm, a subsidiary of Palma Group Limited, resident in Kenya, focusing on climate action by neutralizing carbon emission through activities that help absorb carbon from the atmosphere. 

In 2018, they launched the business in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), venturing into the carbon markets.

While outsourcing financial solutions and partners for his business, Nick came across Invest in Africa’s (IIA) Investor Readiness Program on social media. He seized the opportunity to help his business recover from the loss sustained as a result of the war.

According to Nick, the program was necessary for his business as it was challenging to get investors due to a lack of a financial and an accounting regime, which led to poor records keeping. Nick needed to acquire knowledge to put in place a proper documentation structure and streamline the operations to attract investors.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, about 22 percent of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) do not keep any formal records of their operations. This poses a major strain in attracting potential investors, adding to these businesses' access to finance gap.  

“The program helped us in developing proper records of our financials models. We also created an accounting routine and developed policies and a human resource management structure,’’ said Nick. 

He added that Palma Organic Farm is in the best place to implement sizeable projects while ensuring better documentation. He confirms that the organization is now investor-ready and has continued to fast-track proper policy implementation. We believe that in the near future, we will be sustainable because investors can now have confidence in investing in our venture.

As an entrepreneur, Nick realizes the importance of streamlining the business operations to ensure that most of the requirements of investment criteria are in place. He learned how to revamp company pitching materials, which improved their marketing, and clients are already appreciating.

“Our business capacity has improved thanks to the structures we have put in place. By recognizing the need to capture information about the business and the market, we learned how to collate, process, and use information. We have been keen to track our business activities and use the collected information to plan and predict the future. In addition, this provides the investors with much-needed information to make an investment decision,” iterated Nick.

Nick developed a bespoke business plan through the initiative, which was implemented professionally within the program. He also developed business models per sector and designed a financial plan per program to serve the wide area of operation the organization is in.

As a result of the capacity, we have enlisted from IIA’s Investor Readiness Program, we plan to fully establish the organization in Kenya and supervise the other offices in South Sudan and DRC from here.

Nick’s advice to other entrepreneurs is that ‘information is power’. He advises them to be accountable for all operations and be keen to keep the necessary records. This, in turn, will help plan and predict the future and present an investor-ready business.

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With more than 15 years of experience in the Marketing Industry and being the best at her job, it seemed like a good time to switch gears. Margaret Kositany was ready to start her own marketing agency. In 2016 she launched New Heights Consultants Ltd, a modern digital marketing agency that helps small business brands grow. Little did she know that transitioning from the corporate world to entrepreneurship was a different ballgame.

Moving from formal employment to running her own business, thinking about employees and where to get business was an uphill battle, especially in a cut-throat industry like Digital Marketing. She needed guidance on how to corner the market.

In 2020, she discovered Invest in Africa (IIA) through social media and registered for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Recovery and Resilience Program, an initiative launched by IIA in partnership with Mastercard Foundation, that fronted the survival and the building back better of SMEs at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

IIA, in collaboration with industry experts, delivered personalized business development programs through; Virtual Masterclasses, Business Coaching, peer-to-peer mentorship, and an investor readiness program.

Margaret was paired with a certified business coach who offered fresh ideas on growing and better positioning the business.

The pandemic saw the digital marketing industry becoming more competitive with the accelerated adoption of digital technologies in various economic sectors in the Kenyan market. In addition, digitization has become an integral part of product and service delivery, and it is a key driver of the growth of trade in the country and the continent.

“I learnt I need to stand out, step out and sell the business by having an online presence. I need to network and be seen and heard in industry related conversations and webinars,” Margaret shared in the interview.

Another key lesson she got on staying ahead of the pack was the importance of redefining her target segment by narrowing down on the specific SMEs the business could focus on and settling with the low-end group of SMEs who are often overlooked.

The coaching, according to Margaret, helped bring in more clients, thus more revenue, and positioned the business in a sustainable growth trajectory. Adopting the lessons and revamping the company profile gave her confidence to share her work and source for clients actively.

In the future, she is looking to expand the business by having more clients and more in-house consultants who will work together with her in bringing more business.

Working with a business coach was eye-opening for Margaret. She advises other entrepreneurs to register for business coaching as the certified coach being neutral to the business can see into your business from a different angle. With an understanding of the industry, a coach can provide suggestions on how to grow your business.

The SME Recovery and Resilience program by IIA is still ongoing with diversification to incorporate additional partners and collaborators, which is focused on producing more impact to SMEs by enhancing their access to finance, skills training opportunities, and new markets. 

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Invest in Africa in partnership with the Business Scouts for Development Programme (BSFD) have  launched a market linkage program for manufacturing Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in natural food clusters.BSFD is a programme commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

The program will drive capacity building to upscale SMEs and enhance competitive access to market opportunities.Currenty, the East Africa Community (EAC) market is gaining increasing importance for value-add agricultural products made in Eastern Africa. In addition, there is also an increasing openness in the community to buying “products made in EAC. This  initiative ,therefore, targets manufacturing SMEs in Kenya and Uganda in natural food clusters focusing on Avocado, Shea Butter, Coconut, and Moringa. 

This translates into a high potential for medium-sized agro-processors and the need to augment their capacity to take up the available opportunities. Through successful linkage to buyers seeking to source locally, this initiative by IIA and the BSFD programme will jumpstart an accelerated growth of the target SMEs. Prior capacity building will guarantee the sustainability of these SMEs in accessing and delivering to available opportunities in the longer term. 

Under this initiative, we will leverage IIA’s flagship business membership platform Biashara.Now  to enable market linkage by allowing the SMEs to use the digital traceability tools on the platform to make sure buyers can trace and understand their products, which will enhance efficient engagement and transaction.  

Other capabilities which will be delivered under the capacity building component include good manufacturing practices and new product development. This will ensure that the SMEs can meet the required market standards and efficiently undertake demand-driven introduction of new products. Importantly , the initiative is in line with IIA’s goal of linking SMEs with $100M worth of contracts and creating up to one million jobs by 2025. It has come in handy to ensure collaborative efforts in supporting SMEs to competitively access industries and adequately contribute to value chain development. This, in turn, translates to job opportunities generated through the resultant enterprise growth.   

“Through this initiative, we hope to create an economy that thrives for everyone. This aligns with our purpose of prospering the African economy through sustainable development: where we all participate in trade as entrepreneurs, employees, and consumers, driving economic growth through entrepreneurship and business linkages”, said Terry Kinyua, the COO and acting Country Manager at IIA-Kenya during the project kick-off with beneficiary SMEs.    

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“Coaching is essential for any business at any stage whether you are struggling, growing, or plateaued; it is something I would recommend to all entrepreneurs,” Kefa Nyakundi gladly reiterates.

In 2017 Kefa’s brainchild, Centerprise Holdings Ltd (CHL), which consisted of 3 companies, Centerprise Africa Limited (CAL), Africa Risk Institute (ARI), and Mtaji Technologies, suffered a market downturn because of the prolonged general elections. This led to most of the company's shareholders jumping ship as the business was almost going under. Consequently, as the managing director and vision carrier, this was a call to restructure the company to adjust to the changing business terrain.

Hardly had the business picked up when Covid-19 hit in 2020. This blow came on the back of an already depressed business, which led to a difficult decision to close their office and operate virtually, lay off the staff, and convert them to contractors to ensure business survival. 

These systemic disruptions caused ripples at Centerprise Holdings, creating the need to find new ways to adapt to the constantly changing market conditions to stay afloat.

While Kefa was struggling to spruce up his business and implement a merger strategy, Invest in Africa (IIA) launched a Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Recovery and Resilience program that he quickly signed up for, hoping to improve his business operations.

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Invest in Africa partnered with Mastercard Foundation to champion the survival and resilience of SMEs. This is under an initiative dubbed SMEs Recovery and Resilience. In collaboration with industry experts, IIA delivers bespoke enterprise development programs to SMEs through; Business Coaching, Virtual Masterclasses, peer-to-peer mentorship, and an investor readiness program.

Working with a certified business coach assigned to him was an enlightening experience as the coach doubled up as an accountability partner in presenting his deliverables.

“The coaching gave me so much clarity. It gave me focus, and I got the confidence to progress with the initiatives I was doing,” Kefa said in an interview.

Consequently, the coaching helped redesign and reorganize the business operations, reducing cost and creating a nimble business that could operate under the new normal. 

Adopting the lean operating module developed through coaching and delivering their services using online tools scaled up their business, building it back better. Centerprise Holdings restarted the Mtaji project, an access to capital tech platform for SMEs, using the savings made and hope to launch the platform this quarter.

According to Kefa, the coaching worked as an impetus to growth and positioned the business in a sustainability trajectory. The two companies, Mtaji Technologies and Africa Risk Management Advisors (ARMA), now smarten up, offering one seamless bouquet product consisting of a digital financial marketplace and professional services firm.

In the next three years, he sees his business being at the heart of facilitating Intra- Africa Trade and taking advantage of the African Free Continental Trade Area opportunities to facilitate trade between and among African states.

With the digitization of their services, they will be able to operate across the continent with representative offices across Africa, with Nairobi being their headquarters. 

The SME recovery and resilience program by IIA is still ongoing with diversification to incorporate additional partners and collaborators. This is geared towards delivering more impact to SMEs by enhancing their access to skills development opportunities, finance linkages, and new market streams.

Under this drive, IIA partnered with Unilever to champion inclusive sourcing by incorporating women, youth, persons with disabilities, and marginalized groups SMEs via Biashara.Now platform.

IIA also recently partnered with GIZ Business Scouts for Development Program to enhance the capacity of manufacturing SMEs in natural food clusters to drive sustainable supply chains, quality production, and food safety.

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The Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah has commissioned the Obuasi Enterprise and Skills Development Centre.

The Center, which was jointly established by Anglogold Ashanti Ghana, and the AGA Community Trust Fund, is expected to be a one-stop hub to provide solutions to local businesses and to support skills development and capacity building.

Speaking at a ceremony to commission the centre, Mr. Simon Osei Mensah commended Anglogold Ashanti for investing in skill development in Obuasi. He said Anglogold Ashanti has demonstrated enough commitment to provide alternatives to diversify the economy of Obuasi and provide alternatives to the Mine.

He said, “not long ago, I was here to commission the Training and Rehabilitation Centre for Persons with Disability constructed by Anglogold Ashanti. These and many other interventions by Anglogold Ashanti which are contained in their Social Management Plan need to be applauded”. He talked about the importance of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

He emphasized that in order to reduce unemployment and improve the standards of education in the country, it was imperative to incorporate the needs of private sector players in the decision-making processes. He called for the support of all stakeholders to make TVET attractive to the youth.

The Managing Director of Anglogold Ashanti, Eric Asubonteng in his speech said the Obuasi Enterprise and Skills Development Centre has the potential to boost the local Obuasi economy by developing market-ready programmes that will improve the livelihoods of the youth and make them self-reliant.

“We are convinced that this centre will, to a large extent, improve both human and economic capital, and assist in the development and fast flow of business activities in Obuasi and our other host communities”.

Collaboration with invest Africa

Eric Asubonteng mentioned that through AGA’s collaboration with Invest in Africa (IIA); a not-for-profit organisation with the vision to create thriving African economies, 100 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Obuasi have been placed on the African Partner Pool platform.

This he said, is intended to promote their products and services and the standards they can deliver to make it easier for big companies to find them. He again revealed that through this collaboration, about 102 jobs have been created.

Obuasi Enterprise and Skills Development Centre

The centre forms part of the Enterprise Development Programme under the 3-year Social Management Plan of Anglogold Ashanti Ghana.

It is disability friendly and made up of a multi-purpose conference/ training centre, a business centre, 8 mini- meeting areas, a fully-equipped leather workshop, a fully-equipped industrial centre, a bead-making centre, and a hand sanitiser production centre.

The refurbished facility, which hitherto, served as a recreational centre, has so far supported over 600 businesses in Obuasi. Awards were presented to persons who have gone through training at the centre.

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The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, Cos-Petrogaz and the Business Council of Renewable Energy of Senegal (Coperes) are organizing, in partnership with Energy, Capital and Power (EPC), MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2021, taking place on December 13 to 14, 2021 at the Centre International de Conference Abdou DIOUF (CICAD) in Diamniadio.

Under the theme #ANewWaveOfInvestment, MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2021 will showcase some of the major projects coming onstream over the course of 2023-2024 including SNE, Sangomar, GTA, and flagship projects in the renewable energy industry like the Taiba N´Diaye wind farm.

“This landmark conference will help stimulate investment in our country in this sector, with the forthcoming prospects for oil and gas exploitation, and also in the renewable energy sector in which our country has made significant progress with nearly 30% clean energy in the electricity grid. The imminent arrival of local gas will make Senegal energy independent and constitute a significant element of our energy transition, considering climate change, to produce clean and accessible energy at a lower cost, thanks to innovative programs in this area,” H.E. Aissatou Sophie Gladima, Minister of Petroleum and Energy states.

MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power International Conference Director, Sandra Jeque notes that: “ECP is excited and grateful to have the strong support from our local partners in Senegal and throughout the MSBC region. It is one of the most promising regions for oil exploration and production in West Africa. The conference will feature a number of crucial themes such as the role of natural gas in Senegal, gas-to-power projects, energy transition, local content development and capacity building, and creating new career opportunities for women in energy.”

Emphasizing the international dimension of the MSGBC 2021 conference, she added that “we look forward to welcoming a large number of IOC’s, regional NOC’s and the Ministries of Petroleum and Energy from throughout the sub-region, as well as world-class speakers, both local and international. ECP sees the MSGBC Basin as strategic region that will shape sub-Saharan Africa’s oil and gas sector for years to come, and as such, ECP is strongly committed to the MSGBC region, not just for this high-level event in 2021, but for the long term as a strategic partner for all of the key stakeholders in the region.”

MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2021 will see the strong participation of official delegations from many sub-Saharan African countries, in particular those from the MSGBC sedimentary basin (Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Guinea Conakry), as well as other oil- producing countries from West Africa and North Africa, alongside investment partners from Europe, the Middle East, North America and Asia.

To find out more information regarding speaker or sponsorship opportunities at the MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2021, please visit or contact,

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Accra, 15 September 2021 – Invest in Africa (IIA), a not-for-profit organisation focused on growing local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across sub-Saharan Africa, has been selected by Tullow Ghana Limited to implement its recently launched Financial Readiness programme.

The Financial Readiness programme is an eight-month programme, launched in August 2021, with the goal of assisting suppliers in the oil and gas industry to build financially resilient and sustainable businesses for the future.

IIA will provide selected suppliers with financial tool kits that will enhance their interactions with lending institutions and offer 150 SMEs access to various funding options, as well as insights into financial restructuring opportunities.

Alongside hosting workshops, IIA will offer more tailored, one-to-one business advisory support to Tullow Ghana’s larger suppliers. These will be delivered on the back of a successful track record of similar interventions led by IIA.

Speaking on the potential impact of the programme, IIA Ghana’s Country Director Carol Annang said: “In many ways, the pandemic has reshaped how we conduct business. Its ramifications on financing for Ghanaian SMEs may be felt many years down the line, so even though this programme has a short-term outlook, its overall contribution to these SMEs will be much longer lasting. This is something both IIA and Tullow Ghana can appreciate, given our shared commitment to strengthening local supply chains.”

Wissam Al Monthiry, Managing Director of Tullow Ghana, on his part, said “As a company, the development of local capacity for participation in the oil and gas industry remains our priority. Central to developing local participation, is the ability of our local supply chain to remain financially resilient to continue participating in delivering oil and gas services to our operations. This Financial Readiness programme will add to our goal of ensuring a financially stable supplier base that is globally competitive”.

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