"I can bet that investing ten-thousand dollars in Nigeria can get you a 100 per cent return within a year. A return like that for that kind of initial investment is not possible in Europe. I remember being involved as Shoprite sought to make a foray into Nigeria. They had concerns about what they perceived as the inability of Nigerians to afford their products. They estimated that only 35 per cent of the country would be able to buy their products and thought of aborting the mission. I made them realise that 35 per cent of potential buyers in Nigeria was more than 100 per cent of potential buyers in South Africa. The rest is history because the retail giant has over a hundred branches all over the country today.
When I led the transformation of the Financial Inclusion Unit of the Central Bank of Liberia, our colleagues from United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) did not see the opportunities of going down the market. Today we have a success story."
Are African exchanges beginning to find the levels of liquidity that could have a significant impact on African entrepreneurship? Are many SMEs overlooking the capital markets due to a misconception on what they can offer to companies at their stage of growth? And what steps are being taken to drive collaboration between Africa's markets?
When we got IDF capital off the ground, we placed our primary focus on women entrepreneurs because we noticed that though efforts to facilitate the mainstreaming of black businesses were being made, black women were still being left out. This is despite a market study that had been done by the department of trade and industry that showed that women made up the majority of self-employed people of small micro and medium-sized enterprises.
We, therefore, made it our mission to focus on women-owned businesses.
Namibia based Baobab Capital is raising $50m through the Baobab Growth Fund II to drive the growth of early-stage, fast-growth companies across Southern Africa. The fund will leverage off the success of the Baobab Growth Fund I which has successfully invested in eight companies in Baobab’s home market of Namibia.
The launch of the fund presents an opportunity both for investors looking to tap into the growth of early-stage African start-ups and for entrepreneurs ready to scale their business in the SADC region.