What The World Needs to Know About African Enterprise

Published: Feb. 18, 2016

By Ellie Ward for Pioneers Post

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Ahead of the 2016 Sankalp Africa Summit in Nairobi, Kenya next week, Pioneers Post and the Sankalp team spoke to the founders of four ventures based in the continent to find out: ‘What does the world need to know about African enterprise?’

High number of funds, but impractical mandates

Sun-Culture is a business that designs and sells solar powered irrigation systems and agricultural extension services that make it cheaper and easier for farmers in East Africa to grow high-value fresh fruits and vegetables.

Co-founders Samir Ibrahim and Charles Nichols founded the business, which is headquartered in Kenya, in 2013.

Ibrahim offers his take on what the world ought to know about African enterprise. “This isn’t Europe and this isn’t the U.S. Solutions for Africans are not going to be developed in nice buildings in New York or London.

“It’s a very interesting scene right now. There are a lot of funds and donors putting money into sustainability in Africa, which is fantastic, and Nairobi is at the centre of all this activity.

“But what we’re seeing is that a lot of the Limited Partners (LPs) of the funds being set up in Africa have not spent time in the places they wish to allocate capital. This is not a good thing. When a fund is created, investors create an investment thesis and then a mandate is set outlining future investment parameters – how much each deal will be, what sectors they will invest in and what impact they will achieve. These parameters are being set by people who do not have much experience on the ground so the negotiation is happening without full understanding.

“What that translates to is a lot of money coming into the space, but with impractical restrictions. This is further exaggerated because most of the limited partners investing in impact funds are the same, which means we have a high number of funds that have the same, impractical mandate.”

Read the rest of this article at Pioneers Post

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Great news for SunCulture is also great news for smallholder farmers in Africa! SunCulture CEO Samir Ibrahim is looking forward to a productive partnership with the EDF Group, and to working together to increase rural household productivity across the African continent.

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EDF's investment in SunCulture means increased sales capacity and expanded access to farmer credit in Kenya, and the ability to expand into West Africa. SunCulture's products have already saved almost two billion liters of water, and have increased farmers' incomes while cutting their costs.

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Congratulations to SunCulture! They've closed an investment round with the EDF Group, one of the world’s largest electric utility companies and a global leader in low-carbon energy. EDF joins SunCulture’s existing institutional investors, Energy Access Ventures and Partners Group.