• Invest in Africa Mauritania signs partnership with Banque Mauritanienne pour le Commerce International
  • IIA sponsors a new cohort of certified ICF coaches to support thousands of businesses across Africa
  • IIA’s hackathon boosts tech opportunities for Kenya’s youth

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Nouakchott, 17 June 2021 | Banque Mauritanienne pour le Commerce International (BMCI), a leading local lender committed to the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the Mauritania division of Invest in Africa (IIA), a non-profit initiative focused on growing local businesses in Africa, have signed a partnership agreement to extend access to finance to SMEs in Mauritania working closely with the extractives industry.

The partnership, which marks the first agreement between IIA Mauritania and a domestic lender, aims to accelerate participation of local SMEs in the oil and gas supply chain. IIA can leverage existing experience from work with British Petroleum (BP) in Grand Tortue Ahmehim (GTA), spanning Senegal and Mauritania. The agreement makes BMCI IIA’s fourth banking partner in the GTA project, with three other partners in Senegal.

Improved access to finance will address a range of commercial constraints they currently face. This involves limited availability of cheap capital and difficulties in accessing domestic and international lending markets. The partnership will also ensure SMEs receive funding advice and training.

Commenting on the partnership agreement, BMCI CEO, Moulay Abbas, expressed his delight at working with IIA, “BMCI’s team is looking forward to a successful partnership with IIA and are happy to provide our services to promote the development of African businesses.”

IIA Mauritania country Director Bocar-Alpha Ba noted, “This is a crucial period of economic development for Mauritania and SMEs need to be afforded opportunities to grow. In partnering with BMCI, whose commitment to SME development aligns with ours, we are optimistic about the future for local businesses to sustain and thrive.”

This comes as the Mauritanian government has pledged its commitment to the sustainable development of the country’s extractives industry, notably through supporting Mauritanian enterprises to become active suppliers to international oil companies. IIA is preparing local SMEs to maximise upcoming opportunities, pledging a series of webinars and workshops on improving access to skills, markets and finance, complementing strong local commitment of public and private bodies.

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Congratulations to the graduating cohort of the 6th Certified Productivity coaching programme! The 15 graduates, sponsored by Invest in Africa (IIA), were recognised for the achievements, obtaining the status of International Coaching Federation (ICF) accredited coaches, during an online ceremony on Tuesday, 18th May.

The ceremony convened high level guests, including representatives from the African Development Bank as well as Ecobank. They applauded the accomplishments of this year’s graduating class, as did some of their predecessors, including Chief Operating Officer of Invest in Africa’s Kenya chapter, Terry Kinyua. She encouraged the graduates to make the most of their new titles and learnings to the benefit of thousands across the continent. 

The programme, delivered by The Coaching Hub, is designed to provide the necessary tools to offer professional coaching services to help clients optimise organisational productivity and effectiveness, while giving individuals, teams and organizations the focus and motivation required to achieve tangible results. This is especially important as businesses are severely stretched for resources and navigate the turbulent commercial landscape created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 15 certified coaches, five of whom are Invest in Africa staff, will use their knew found knowledge and coaching techniques to enhance SME resilience in this distressed business environment, and beyond. The Certified Productivity Coach programme is designed to deliver tangible results, irrespective of organisation size and sector.

In response to the challenges faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Invest in Africa launched the Recovery and Resilience Programme, with the support of the Mastercard Foundation. Amongst the primary interventions was SME coaching but with few ICF certified coaches in Ghana, Senegal, and Mauritania, IIA sponsored 15 coaches, including Mauritania’s only ICF accredited coach, Bocar Alpha Ba, IIA’s Mauritania country director.

William Pollen, IIA Director, explained during the ceremony that, “IIA will be rolling out a coaching support programme to better provide wider opportunity for creating awareness and increasing the productivity of the businesses we support.

“IIA aims to create a network of coaches, especially in Ghana and Senegal to maximise access to small and medium enterprises amid the pandemic to become resilient and build back better.”

The impact of effective coaching has been evident to beneficiaries of IIA’s Recovery and Resilience programme, two of whom received expert advice from certified coached and managed to transform their businesses. One of the recipients, on the brink of shutting up shop, turned his enterprise around, attracted investment and expanded operations.

The commitment from the graduating cohort to helping SMEs reverse their fortunes and maintain strong growth trajectories was tangible and encouraging, emphasising the importance of solidarity during and beyond this unprecedented period. According to class president Kalyan Emandi the energising coaching sessions always ‘evoked something positive’ in themselves.

The feeling of togetherness and was married with the importance of acknowledging individuality and the distinctions in culture across our diverse continent, by keynote speaker Winnie Nzamu. Winnie, who left her lucrative career in banking to take up coaching reiterated that “coaching is an honour and responsibility.”

Congratulations again to the certified Productivity Coaches!

 

Ghana

Angelina Diyuoh Minski

Agnes Allotey

Osei Kwaku Agyekum

Peter Anuum

Charlotte Asiedu

Ekow Mensah

Dr. Esi Ansah

 

Senegal

Ibrahima Talla

Ibrahima Fall

Papa Ngor Bob

DIOP Birama Laba

Fatima Simone

Kalyan Emandi

 

Mauritania

Bocar Alpha BA

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The prospect of graduating for many young students should create excitement and anxiety, in equal measure, for what the future holds. In Kenya those scales tip more towards trepidation. There seems to be more certainty to what life after university has in store, and sadly, unemployment is increasingly common for young graduates.

Invest In Africa’s Kenya team, spearheaded by IT Lead, David Ajowi, embarked on a mission to enhance opportunities for Kenya’s youth. With 65% of the young people out of work, they developed the IIA Technology Innovation Internship Program – that starts with a hackathon.

The program seeks to identify talent and enable young graduates and university students to harness their talent through the industry linkages and provide a platform from which they can gain experience through job exposure and become drivers of change.

During the hackathon applicants were invited to develop ideas and solutions to digitise processes within small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to make them more efficient, saving on resources and improving customer experience.

The idea was designed to simultaneously address two major economic constraints – youth unemployment and survival of SMEs, severely affected by the pandemic. Submissions from the hackathon would contribute to the sustainability of these businesses while leveraging the underutilised digital expertise of the nation’s youth.

“Submissions to the hackathon included a range of innovative, creative and unique solutions to multiple business challenges faced by SMEs across the country. The hackathon judges were very impressed and encouraged to see the capabilities of participants,” said David Ajowi.

After an in-depth judging process, the overall winner of the hackathon was announced: Gloria Simiyu won with her idea that addressed a serious societal challenge with a simple tech-led business solution. As the hospitality industry witnessed a considerable downturn in client numbers during the pandemic, they were left with excesses of leftover food.

The business expense combined with the opportunity cost of the wasted food inspired Gloria to share help the less fortunate in society. Some of the food was distributed through collaborations with charities and some sold to those unable to purchase in person through a mobile application.

“I am ecstatic to have won this hackathon and grateful for the opportunity to showcase my project,” explained Gloria, who is well attuned to the lack of opportunities for Kenya’s young techies. That is why she believes tremendous tech talent remains ‘undiscovered’ across the country.

She will work with the IIA team to further develop her idea and believes with their guidance it will be a success. Gloria will also be able to lean on newly acquired knowledge from the complementary web development course she was gifted as winner of the hackathon.

In second place, Samson Muchai and his colleagues developed Cleansafi, an Android application designed to expose laundromats in Nairobi to a wider market, boosting their revenue streams and enabling growth; benefitting their clients with improved service and their suppliers with larger orders.

The brilliance and range of ideas presented exhibits the plethora of tech talent in the country and we are determined it has a platform to shine. Look out on our channels for the next hackathon!

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