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SME funding—Money transfers—Digital payments—Social ventures—Dairy investment—Urban development

SME funding

The International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, and Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, parent company of the Ecobank Group and a leading pan-African full-service banking group, launched a $110 million risk-sharing facility that will increase access to finance for small and medium sized enterprises in fragile and conflict-affected states in West and Central Africa. The facility is designed to overcome the challenges of lending to these smaller businesses, which have a higher risk profile, in what are some of the world’s poorest countries. With IFC and Ecobank sharing risk equally in the $110 million facility, SMEs in Burundi, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of Congo, Guinea, Mali and Togo will gain increased access to loans through Ecobank affiliates. IFC and Ecobank enjoy a long-standing collaboration dating back to 1993. Most recently, IFC extended an emergency liquidity facility in response to the Ebola crisis through Ecobank’s affiliates in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the most impacted countries. Ecobank is a founding member of the Global SME Finance Forum and helped launch SME Club campaigns in many African countries. 


Money transfers

SimbaPay, a leading digital money transfer provider based in London, UK, launched its money transfer service to Nigeria. Nigerians living in the UK with a bank account, debit card or credit card will be able to use the SimbaPay app from any mobile phone, tablet or computer to send money to any bank account or mobile phone in Nigeria instantly. SimbaPay charges zero fees for money transfers to Nigeria. Transfers made using SimbaPay are credited within seconds to recipients' bank accounts or mobile money wallets, eliminating the inconvenience of queues and old school paperwork. The service will gradually be rolled out to Nigerians living in other EU countries. SimbaPay provides daily locked-in exchange rates for the Nigeria Naira (NGN). The SimbaPay app can be downloaded for free from the Apple or Android app stores.


Digital payments

Malawi expects to progress from 3.5 percent of total active adult population using digital financial services at the start of 2015 to 15 percent by 2019. The government took a significant step towards creating a digital payment ecosystem in order to address poverty and drive inclusive growth when it organized an event with the United Nations Capital Development Fund's Better Than Cash Alliance and Mobile Money for the Poor initiatives that brought together digital payments players to accelerate the progress of digital finance in Malawi. The event marked the release of an in-depth analysis of the country's readiness to transition from a nearly cash-only economy to one where digital payments are widely available through an ecosystem approach. UNCDF plans to provide technical and financial assistance to Malawi to build capacity in public and private sector organizations to support the switch from cash to digital for the most promising payments streams identified in the research. Many people living in poverty only use cash, a key barrier to broader financial inclusion because cash makes it costly to provide financial services.  According to UNCDF, in least developed countries such as Malawi, mobile penetration is at 30 percent while access to a bank account is at 14 percent.


Social ventures

Telecommunications operator Orange is accepting applications for the 5th edition of the Orange African Social Venture Prize through September 18, 2015. The competition showcases entrepreneurs offering innovative products or services that meet the needs of Africans in fields such as health, agriculture, education, energy, industry or trade. The prize will recognize three projects with grants of 10,000, 15,000 and 25,000 euros, along with six months of support from Orange experts. The first prize will also be offered a patent registration in the country of the project’s deployment. Any entrepreneur aged 21 or over or legal entity that has been in existence for fewer than three years may participate at no cost and with no restriction on nationality. Submitted projects must be designed to be deployed in at least one of the 17 African countries in which Orange operates and must use information and communications technology in an innovative way to help improve the living conditions of the populations in these countries. 


Dairy investment

Scandinavian-backed private equity investment company SPEAR Capital (Pty) Ltd. acquired 27 percent of Zimbabwe's second largest dairy producer, Dendairy. The deal, which was a combined debt/equity transaction, had a value of $6 million. Dendairy has invested heavily in its factory and grown its raw milk supply since its establishment in 2004, and recently expanded into include Mozambique and Zambia. The company currently produces Maas (fermented milk), UHT Milk, UHT Flavored Milk, Yogurts, Ice Cream, and Fruit Juices. MNCapital Africa Advisors, an African focused financial advisory firm based in Johannesburg, South Africa, was responsible for the introduction of the Dendairy opportunity to SPEAR and assisted SPEAR in its initial assessment of the opportunity.


Urban development

The cities of Accra, Kinondoni and Praia were the winners of the inaugural José Eduardo dos Santos African Mayor Awards, conferred during the 2nd Africa Urban Infrastructure Investment Forum held March 29-30 in Luanda, Angola. The awards acknowledge the leadership and contribution made by mayors of large, medium and small cities and celebrate achievements and excellence in urban development in Africa. The winning cities received prize money totaling US$350,000, which will be disbursed for specific initiatives. $50,000 went to the city of Praia in Cape Verde, winner in the small city category; $100,000 went to Kinondoni in Tanzania, winner in the medium city category; and Accra in Ghana, winner in the large city category, received $200,000.



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