One week ago, Kenyan's excercised their right to vote and peacefully cast their ballot for change. Now comes the hard part: Implementation of the new constitution in a way that moves the country forward and encourages sustainable economic practices.
U.S. Vice President Biden said in June the U.S. administration backs the new constitution and predicted that approval would draw record foreign investment, however, that is yet to be seen. Kenya’s economic growth rate dropped to 1.7 percent in 2008 from 7.1 percent a year earlier as a result of the violence from the country's previous election.
The Grassroots Business Fund (GBF), whose mission is to build and support high-impact businesses that provide sustainable economic opportunities to millions of people at the base of the economic pyramid, has opened a new office in Kenya this week. While GBF has been operative across the region for more than two years, the expansion intends to create a new force in the fight against global poverty by creating sustainable, high-impact business models for grassroots development, models that can attract both public and private sector funders.
Looking forward to engaging the group in the future!
More information on our new office is below:
Grassroots Business Fund Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
[email protected], +1 (202) 518-6865
Soha Ehsani, [email protected], + 254 261 4823/4
August 10, 2010 (Washington, DC) – The Grassroots Business Fund (GBF), whose mission is to build and support high-impact businesses that provide sustainable economic opportunities to millions of people at the base of the economic pyramid, has opened a new office in Kenya as a part of its ongoing global growth strategy. While GBF has been operative across the region for more than two years, the expansion intends to provide greater on-the-ground technical and financial assistance to high-impact businesses in region.
Already, GBF has investments in 10 countries and impacts the lives of 4.2 million people living at the base of economic pyramid.
Harold Rosen, executive director for GBF, said today, “This expansion will accelerate and advance our work with high-impact businesses working in fields such as information technology, energy, agriculture, access to finance and artisanal.” He adds, “We’re reaching further down the economic pyramid to help provide sustainable economic opportunities to millions of people.”
For example, the coffee industry is one of the most important sectors in East Africa, providing economic opportunities to thousands of rural farmers. However, the majority of coffee cooperatives use outdated (often by more than 20 years) and often ineffective processing equipment. This equipment is highly inefficient, resulting in lower quality coffee and higher costs, since it requires more frequent maintenance and repair.
BrazAfric Enterprises Limited (BEL) is an importer and distributor of coffee equipment, as well as equipment for grain and seed handling, primarily from Brazil to East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Ethiopia). One of the company’s key products is an ecological coffee wet mill that is significantly more reliable and efficient than the machines used by most coffee cooperatives in East Africa.
GBF is partnering closely with BrazAfric to set up and execute a new vendor financing division. This new division will enable the company to offer financing to its customers alongside equipment sales, with the vision of promoting access to productive agricultural equipment throughout East Africa. In its first phase, the vendor financing division will focus on extending credit to coffee cooperatives in Kenya to enable the acquisition of ecological coffee wet mills. As financing is not an existing business line for BEL, building a new expertise (in extending credit) within the company will be a challenging but innovative undertaking. In addition to providing BrazAfric with investment capital for on-lending to cooperatives, GBF has funded an expert consultant to build the vendor financing offering and train staff within BEL.
To find more examples like this, with photos and videos available online, or to learn more about GBF’s work in Africa, click here.
Soha Ehsani, an investment analyst in GBF’s Kenya office, said, “We’re hitting the ground running. There are over a dozen businesses in Africa that GBF is supporting, and that impact is a part of a very powerful narrative. We’re proud to have an opportunity to play such a unique role in development.”
Unlike many microfinance companies already in the region, GBF’s long-term, actively managed programs strengthen our investees’ business capacities, enhance their social impact, and grow their organizations. In turn, the growth of our investees provides sustainable income and stability to those at the BoP whom they engage as suppliers, employees, and clients.