NEWS

With one of the sub-region’s highest rates of access to energy, increasing demand and rapid urbanisation, Senegal’s energy sector is regionally advanced. This is apparent in a domestic setting as well as industrially, as manufacturing expands and the economy diversifies.

To prop up this progress, requires tip top utility infrastructure. Fast-growing electrical installation company, Meltec, is keenly aware of the opportunity. Created in 2014, they had no choice but to outpace development of their more established competitors and have done so methodically since launching, with annual turnover growing 15%, on average.

Meltec’s commitment to customer satisfaction ensures design and installation of electrical systems is of the highest standard. All areas of involvement are thoroughly considered to enhance efficiency and competitiveness for their clients, offering an excellent end-to-end service across a range of project requirements from industry to tertiary. Meltec’s areas of operations are also aligned to service growing sectors like renewable energy and IT networks.

Leading the forward-thinking company into this decade and beyond is the dynamic Khadime Thioune. Leveraging his experience in project management, he plans to scale operations, and rapidly. By 2022, Khadime wants to double Meltec’s profits. With a fourfold increase in the workforce and turnover of USD2m, the company is following the right growth trajectory.

Meltec’s partnership with IIA is crucial in realising this growth. During the pandemic, tailored business coaching support encouraged Meltec to target the country’s lucrative oil & gas sector – in which Khadime wants to play in influential role. Through IIA, Meltec has plugged into a network of well-established multinationals with a Senegalese footprint. Meltec is involved in the construction of the Halliburton LMP platform in the country’s capital, Dakar, contracted by Sepco.

Despite the range of business challenges, an undeterred ambition and IIA support ensures Meltec protects its dream of national development. It continues to make huge strides in its quest to provide good-paying, sustainable jobs for the nation’s youth, and eventually the wider region – with the help of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.  

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Accra, 25 August 2021Invest in Africa (IIA), a not-for-profit organisation focused on growing local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana and across Sub-Saharan Africa to deliver positive economic impact and create jobs, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA). Based on synergies identified through their respective Recovery and Resilience Programs funded by the Mastercard Foundation, both organisations are collaborating to strengthen the resilience of local businesses and young entrepreneurs.

The MoU, signed 7th July 2021, will be valid for 12 months and will support between 500 to 1,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Business Development Services (BDS) and training aimed at improving compliance and regulatory standards in the food and beverage manufacturing industry, will be one of the interventions of focus. As the industry expands across Ghana, there is wide acknowledgement that lack of knowledge and training in safety standards poses a potential barrier to its continued growth.

The GEA is an Agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) mandated to promote and develop the MSME Sector in Ghana. Since the COVID 19 pandemic, the GEA has focused on supporting local businesses as they navigate challenges resulting from the Pandemic and begin preparing for opportunities created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

Commenting on the signing of the MoU, IIA Ghana Country Director, Carol Annang said, “We are privileged to join forces with GEA, as we look to build back better following the effects of the Pandemic. The synergies between us will ensure we deliver considered interventions to help the food and beverage industry back onto its feet. However, this is only the beginning, we recognise the potential of this Sector has and will help MSMEs target opportunities that arise as a result of the AfCFTA”.

The Chief Executive Officer of GEA, Mrs. Kosi Yankey-Ayeh stated that “The growth in the Sector over the last few decades has been astounding, proving to be a bedrock for sustainable employment opportunities across the country. We want to continue increasing that contribution to the economy as we strive to endlessly improve standards, hold ourselves to better knowledge sharing and capacity building which will help further strengthen our MSMEs”.

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FINANCE LEAD

Job title:  Finance Lead

Location: Dakar, Senegal

Reporting to: Country Manager,

 

The Finance Lead is responsible for overseeing general accounting operations by controlling and verifying our financial transactions as well as collaborating with other Project Managers on all aspects of SME finance and financial institution partnerships to enhance SME engagement and Access to Finance.

The Manager will focus on setting up accounting systems and developing the capacity of SMEs to source for finance from Financial Institutions (Banks & non-Banks ie. equity). The successful candidate should have a solid experience as an expert in SME Finance in Senegal. She/he works in close coordination with all IIA Managers, who support the unit with strategic and technical advice.

Job Purpose

The objective of this role is to

  1. 1. Oversee accounting/finance function by: 
    • maintaining general ledger and ensuring accuracy and effectiveness in all of our accounting tasks
    • reconciling account balances and bank statements
    • preparing month-end close procedures
    • analyzing financial reports and forecasts
  2. 2. Set up and manage a IIA Access to finance program which includes:
    • Design and development of Investment Readiness Programme and interventions to increase SMEs finance success rate
    • Analysis of SMEs constraints and opportunities for systemic change
    • Partnership relationship management with Financial Partners

Responsibilities

  • Produce error-free accounting reports and present their results
  • Analyze financial information and summarize financial status
  • Spot errors and suggest ways to improve efficiency and spending
  • Review and recommend modifications to accounting systems and procedures
  • Participate in financial standards setting and in forecast process
  • Prepare financial statements and produce budget according to schedule
  • Supervise monthly declarations and filings
  • Develop and document business and accounting policies to strengthen internal controls
  • Supervise the SME Investment Readiness Programme - providing input on how to support suitable SME for accessing finance from banks and investors.
  • Maintain understanding of the SME Finance landscape, with both private and public sectors
  • Support other IIA Managers in organising workshops and seminars for finance activities and sharing learning with the wider IIA team.
  • Acting as the focal point for SME Finance activities
  • Advise SME and IIA on market analysis and segmentation, SME financial products, SME credit risk evaluation processes
  • Manage consultants supporting with the achievement of the Access to finance component.

Qualifications & Experience:

  • Degree in Accounting, Finance or relevant
  • Proven experience as a senior accountant and/or auditor
  • In-depth understanding of Accounting Principles
  • Experience with general ledger functions and the month/quarter/year-end close process
  • Hands-on experience with accounting software packages, like Odoo, Saari etc…
  • Advanced MS Excel skills including Vlookups and pivot tables
  • experience facilitating finance for SME
  • experience in general credit delivery
  • Able to work independently and to provide recommendations to the Senior Leadership Team.
  • Experience working with financial institutions (banks)/investors
  • Excellent English writing and communication skills
  • Accuracy and attention to detail

PROJECT MANAGER

Job title:  Project Manager

Location: Dakar, Senegal

Reporting to: IIA Country Manager

Background

Invest in Africa plans to engage a Project Manager (PM) in anticipation of a Business Linkage Program in Senegal. The PM will focus on increasing the number of partnerships between Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and large companies in Senegal by improving the quality of local business goods and services, raising corporate standards and removing barriers preventing SMEs from accessing new clients/export markets, finance and skills.

The Project Manager will be responsible for Managing the AfDB funded programme in line with the Key Performance Indicators and managing the Key Financing Partner.

Key responsibilities:

Programme Management and Operations

  • 1. Provide overall management and coordination of all work streams including Technical and Operations in the mobilisation and delivery of program results.
  • 2. Directly line-manage the project team including delivery partners, consultants, Business Advisory and quality assurance.
  • 3. Raise interest amongst IIA Partners’ supply chains to register on the programme,
  • 4. Recruit SMEs onto the programme and identify their training needs in line with the programme specifics.
  • 5. Write progress reports for internal and external use according to the standard or specifications required by donor and Fund Managers or as may be required by the IIA leadership.
  • 6. Participate and lead program related workshops, review meetings, training and community engagements.
  • 7. Anticipate risk and take steps to mitigate them.

Monitoring and Evaluation:

  • 1. Manage all areas of M&E, to ensure that internal monitoring is carried out effectively and that external impact evaluations are being conducted in the manner intended.
  • 2. Develop and track relevant Project documents and systems such as the Logframe, M&E Framework and monitoring tools.
  • 3. Apply the internal monitoring and evaluation system in collaboration with the project team to ensure accurate record keeping, adequate and relevant data collection and analysis.
  • 4. Ensure the documentation of lessons learned and best practices are shared through internal and external IIA knowledge sharing forums.
  • 5. Manage the relationship and deliverables of the external evaluation partner in line with donor requirements.

Managing partners, suppliers and stakeholders

  • 1. Work with the Consultants and key stakeholders to ensure Project sustainability.
  • 2. Sustain positive partnerships and networking relationships with key stakeholders on projects to achieve overall objectives.
  • 3. Integrate Partners’ commitment (in kind or cash)  of training support to the programme and ensure they deliver.
  • 4. Update stakeholders including IIA steering committee boards and donors,
  • 5. Actively communicate and maintain good working relationships with external suppliers and consultants who collaborate with Invest in Africa in various ways in the delivery of our Skills Development Programmes
  • 6. Highlight best practices emerging from project at sector platforms and other relevant public events.
  • 7. Manage key stakeholders including donors to guarantee continued interest in funding IIA Skills programmes
  • 8. Convey the Business Linkage Programme advisory board to get their commitment and support in the delivery of programmes and achieve overall objectives.

Procurement and Contract Management

  • 1. Lead in all procurement activities in line with AfDB procurement guidelines
  • 2. Manage programme contract to achieve the desired outcomes
  • 3. Lead in the selection of implementing firms for the project

 

Qualifications & Experience

 

  • 1. Relevant degree in, Project Management, Development studies or similar related or relevant fields, although other degrees will be considered in light of candidate’s experience.
  • 2. Minimum of 5 years field experience in Private Sector Development with NGOs in developing countries
  • 3. Previous experience of budget and procurement management within donor funded project

Key skills & Competencies

  • 1. Strong project management skills and experience managing donor funded projects
  • 2. Highly functional knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint required
  • 3. Strong people management skills and experience in line managing teams
  • 4. Skills and experience in external stakeholder engagement including donors, government and private sector and experiences with coordination of multi-stakeholder forums
  • 5. Knowledge and experience of supply chain management is essential
  • 6. Experience managing AfDB funded projects and good understanding of AfDB procurement rules.
  • 7. Experience running a capacity building programme from design through to successful completion
  •  8. 6-8 years’ industry experience
  • 9. Skills in report writing and monitoring and evaluation
  • 10. Bilingual French-English

Personal Attributes

  • 1. Self-starter and team player with high standards
  • 2. Ability to multitask and work under some level of pressure
  • 3. Ability to work in a cross-cultural environment and with multi- and interdisciplinary teams

APPLICATION DEADLINE: 1st September 2021.

Applicants should send their applications (Resume and Cover letter) to appsenegal@investinafrica.com


 

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More than most things, avocados symbolise middle-class millennials in the global north. Their journey from seedling to fruit, and a trip thousands of kilometres away represents opportunities further afield, in the developing world.

Great Global Traders, a Kenya-based start-up is an emerging member of this multi-billion dollar industry, established to empower marginalised members of the community. Focused on uplifting women and youth, Rosemary Muita’s business employs 800 professionally trained smallholder farmers across four counties, with expansion in her sights.

Entirely locally owned and operated, armed with an export licence for high-quality domestic produce, and with agri-processing opportunities, Rosemary’s business and vision show us what an AfCFTA-enabled future could look like.

Even when she first started with a handful of female farmers in a co-operative, she dreamed big, “If you think small, you stay small,” she explained. By training them in agricultural best practices and advocating organic growing methods, her network expanded.

This helped her envisage a future plans, prioritising export of avocados, developing a nuclear farm and having her own processing plant. By appointing a commercial coach, Invest in Africa helped her distil this into a decade-long plan, introduce digital marketing tools and formalise her business, developing a structure and hierarchy, allowing her to expand methodically.

Breaking cultural barriers preventing women from attaining financial independence remains central to her plans.

Rosemary has experienced this first-hand herself. Not having assets to collateralise loans, banks turn her away. “In Kenya women are not granted land rights, and the like, making it almost impossible to get funding. I have enquired with local banks but also some abroad and always the same story,” she lamented.

Such impediments lower the threshold of professional accomplishment and deter ambition 

for many women. Invest In Africa’s commitment to building inclusive economies is to break precisely these kinds of barriers. Rosemary is determined not to fall victim to this despite opportunities for growth being affected as a result.

Just as Great Global Traders were preparing to export into America, Europe and the Middle East, the pandemic struck, interrupting an important growth phase and crucial revenue streams. Unable to pay the farmers, and searching for revenue, Rosemary is powering on.

Learn more about Great Global Traders here: https://www.greatglobal.co.ke/ 

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Kenya’s economy is largely driven by Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and an informal sector that accounts for over 80% per cent of the total workforce. SMEs employ about 85% of Kenyan labour force which is close to 7.5 million aggregate employment (Gure & Karugu, 2018).  MSMEs utilize locally accessible resources, foster innovation, employ technology, assemble small-dispersed private savings, and foster entrepreneurship development. They are key to not only driving industrialization as envisaged in Vision 2030 but are also crucial in achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) geared towards improved, equitable and sustained human development.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on MSMEs has been immediately very detrimental and will continue to reverberate over a long recovery phase.   Multiple factors ranging from direct and indirect human health outcomes, disruption on supply chains, massive lay offs, decreased air freight services and limited outbound air freights continue to be felt as the country braces for the fourth wave of the predominant Delta variant. In the service industry, the drop in customers means no cash coming in to offset expenses and therefore a looming shut down and lay off of thousands of businesses and their employees will have ripple effects on clients, vendors, tertiary businesses, and the overall national economy. Service providers such as restaurants have been closed or switched to only take-away services, which has had direct and notable loss of income to the agricultural and transportation sector as well. In some parts of the country, gyms, daycare centers, hair salons and spas, retailers etc. have also shut down or operated on quarantine sensitive timeframes and social distancing in compliance to Ministry of Health recommendations.  The COVID-19 pandemic while often referred to as an unprecedented crisis has been a low probability high impact predicted event among scientists including infectious disease investigators. The pandemic has tested national level response capacity and will demand a robust recovery strategy that is cognizant and responsive to capacity to build back better in the face of disasters.  

As the cost in estimate the loss of lives and livelihoods continues to mount, it is very clear that the pandemic will affect the MSME ecosystem in an unprecedented way. At a macro level, The World Bank, cut Kenya’s 2021 economic growth projections to 4.5% compared to the previous projection of 6.8% growth which was to be the fastest in Africa, due to the impacts of COVID-19. This points to the need for MSME ecosystem stakeholders to act with a sense of urgency in protecting MSMEs from further impact, as well as buffer them from ongoing and future disasters which will have compounding shocks on the system. Historically, consideration of disaster impacts on MSMEs has not been prioritized as a business survival and continuity imperative. The approach to risk and disaster management has been reactive, short term and extrinsic to MSME sustainability and growth.  A systematic approach that is comprehensive in considering and investing in risk and disaster management as a strategic, proactive imperative has been underscored during COVID—19.

The role of government as we contend with the complex issues and uncertainty in an already fragile business environment, supporting MSMEs to build back better will be key not only due to the COVID-19 pandemic but in how they address emerging and existing risks and disasters including cyber security and climate change generated disasters.  It is incumbent on the government and all its partners to lay focus and take action through sustainable risk resilience measures to minimize the impacts on lives and livelihoods.

An opportunity to integrate a risk and disaster management approach as an integral component of MSME development and sustainability model exists and should be leveraged.  This approach through a development lens requires the collective engagement of public and private sector, development actors, academia, and the public in general as a collective taking into consideration risk and disaster management.

As Kenya grapples with the ongoing pandemic demands, specific sectors can be leveraged during the response and recovery phase to establish a foundation for MSME resilience.  Kenya should leverage on its ICT capacity to make use of early warning systems and fully integrate risk modelling in its economic planning. Factoring risk and disaster impacts into decision making processes and cost benefit analysis stands to offer the MSME ecosystem a tangible motivation for investing in preparedness and mitigation processes and infrastructure.  The use of science and technology to guide development discussions and strategies will bring on board the much-needed real time data, allowing for detailed and realistic implementation plans. Further, engaging with the science and technology community will foster a culture of solid vulnerability assessments, as well as evaluation and monitoring mechanisms which are an imperative for sustainable MSME development initiatives.

The role of government and disaster governance cannot be underestimated.  A quintessential role of government is in protecting its citizens and institutions especially when their resource is depleted or overwhelmed.  In May 2020, the government of Kenya unveiled Ksh 53.7 billion economic stimulus package that included a Ksh 3 billion initial seed capital for the credit guarantee scheme to boost MSMEs. This commendable investment effort by the government of Kenya appeals for strengthened implementation plans and accountability frameworks. Accountability frameworks will also increase risk literacy, improve risk visibility, and educate MSMEs to shift the disaster management focus from response to a more comprehensive approach inclusive of recovery mitigation, risk reduction and prevention, to minimize the impacts of disasters for those that cannot be eliminated entirely.  

Addressing MSME resilience calls for an all-of-society engagement. Invest In Africa (IIA) – Kenya is an organization established in 2016 in Kenya with the objective to grow African MSMEs by improving their access to skills, markets, and finance with the goal of transforming their competitiveness, creating opportunities and jobs which in turn enhance human development.  Based on IIAs engagement in Kenya, participant expectations and data gathered in the ongoing pandemic, the opportunities and challenges of establishing and accelerating SME resilience were operationalized in October 2020.  Through a multi-stakeholder approach, (termed the Dialogue Series), IIA brought together 7 partners from the government, private sector, SME eco-system, academia, development actors and multilateral organizations, with a vision of building and enhancing capacity to risk and disaster management frameworks. Specifically, the three-part dialogue series and an ask the expert virtual session addressed pertinent topics and queries on advocating for investment in disaster risk and disaster cycle management and build back better strategies. 229 participants attended this series which was developed and anchored on needs as determined by IIA and its partners. Participants were notably interested in testimonials by local SMEs who through innovation have re-structured their approaches as a business continuity and survival imperative. The dialogue series initiative has paved way to the formulation of an MSME Risk Resilience Framework, geared towards operationalizing recommendations from the dialogue series with a roll-out envisaged in 2022.

As the MSMEs pursue resilience building strategies, IIA commits to applying and holding the process as a priority.  IIA is engaging with partners in developing policy, practices and training that will facilitate a multi-pronged approach, offer accountability and sustainability to ensuring that MSMEs have access to requisite tools towards minimizing disaster impacts. Indeed, a strategic and coordinated approach to MSME resilience building will prevent the duplication of the already scarce financial and human resources. Further, this approach will contribute to a focused implementation plan.

Finally, the important role of MSMEs in Kenya cannot be overstated. This is a clarion call to all MSMEs and partners to shift the mind-set of a siloed approach and seek for a more cohesive and integrated approach to resilience building.

 


By:

Wangechi Muriuki – Impact Area Lead, Africa Networks at Creative Metier; Former Country Manager, Invest in Africa (IIA) - Kenya.

Ms. Muthoni Njogu – Social Entrepreneur and Lead, Mweiga Youth Empowerment Group.

Dr. Njoki Mwarumba - Faculty – Disaster Cycle Management, Strathmore University Business School; Assistant Professor of Emergency Management and Disaster Preparedness, University of Nebraska, Omaha.

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London and Accra, 5 July 2021: Invest In Africa (IIA), an enterprise focused on growing local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Sub-Saharan Africa to deliver positive economic impacts and create jobs, has partnered with Vodafone Ghana to support local businesses by enhancing their digital capabilities. The partnership will provide local SMEs with tailor-made digital solutions to enable them to adapt to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, continue interacting with customers online and grow their businesses.

 

Some of the customised ICT solutions to be provided by IIA and Vodafone to SMEs in Ghana include: Red Trader – a simple web and mobile application designed for traders to manage their inventory, track and receive payments; and Your-Business-Online – a proposition designed for SMEs to increase their market reach via tailored digital marketing offerings such as website design, e-commerce integration and social media marketing, among others. These and other specialised solutions will fuel local innovation, support digital financial inclusion and stimulate business and economic growth.  

 

Established in 2012, IIA operates locally in five countries across the continent (Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, Zambia, and Mauritania), supporting SMEs through providing training and enhancing access to finance, as well as supporting job creation and local economies. The initiative will be rolled out in Ghana from 1st April for an initial period of two years and will be available to interested local SMEs regardless of size or sector.

 

Carol Annang, IIA’s Ghana Country Director commented on the news, “This partnership represents the coming together of two leading organisations both committed to Africa’s long term sustainable growth. Our purpose at IIA is to act as catalysts for SME growth and competitiveness, and a key part of this is uniting large corporations who want to use their local buying power as a force for good with local African businesses, with a view to attracting investment, creating jobs, building capacity and diversifying the economies in which we operate.”

IIA’s CEO, William Pollen also asserted, “As Africa faces its first recession in more than 25 years and the pandemic accelerating job disruption, it is more important than ever to support SMEs, which account for an estimated 80% of economic activity and act as the primary employer in sub-Saharan Africa. The digital acceleration we are seeing due to Covid-19 is an opportunity for businesses to adapt, learn new skills and thrive in the new digital economy. This is the key objective of our partnership with Vodafone in Ghana, and we hope to be able to extend this initiative to support SMEs across sub-Saharan Africa in the near future.”

Also remarking on the IIA-Vodafone partnership, Tawa Bolarin, Director of Vodafone Business said, “The partnership between Vodafone Business and IIA is a big win for local businesses because both institutions share a joint commitment to transforming businesses via innovative digital solutions. We have a deep-seated passion to see local businesses succeed and now more than ever; in a business landscape impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative for home-grown businesses, and particularly SMEs to be able to operate seamlessly and efficiently using cutting-edge digital solutions to propel market reach, profitability and business growth. These are indeed exciting times for us and the entrepreneurial community in Ghana.”

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The turmoil in northern Mozambique has thrown a spotlight on the sustainability and ESG efforts of international oil companies (IOCs) in Africa. Historically they have not had the most constructive relationships with governments and native communities.

Often the emphasis on developing or integrating local companies and people into the supply chains or operations of these large extractive projects can be wrapped up in temporary CSR missions and not built into the longer-term frameworks of national development agendas or company vision statements.

In doing so, this improves the understanding of their operating environments, lowering their costs of procurement and building capacity and capabilities of enterprises and individuals. And crucially, this improves the economic prospects of the host country, reinvesting in human capital and improving the social economy.

Increasingly this is being implemented as the industry takes on more responsibility and some of these concerns are addressed by local content regulation – which aims to increase opportunities of local businesses in these value chains. However, this is only the starting point.

Before projects are established, it is essential that IOCs and the public sector establish clear metrics, promoting participation of locals, to monitor and evaluate against over the project duration.

This is where the guidance of experienced partners like Invest in Africa, who have cut their teeth in these industries, have a clear vision of what local sustainability means and how best to implement considered ESG strategies.

Read more of Invest in Africa Director William Pollen’s thoughts in his thought leadership piece for Environmental Finance here: https://www.environmental-finance.com/content/analysis/big-oil-needs-big-change-to-its-sustainability-approach-in-africa.html   

 

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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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