Africa Business News: Entrepreneurs. Investments. Banking & Finance. Emerging Markets. Start-Ups
Tuesday, 1 October 2013
‘West Africa needs patient capital to drive social entrepreneurship’
At the Women of West Africa entrepreneurship (WOWe) conference at Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos,OLUYINKA ALAWODE interviewed Godfrey Mwindaare, director of Acumen West Africa, a social venture capitalist firm focused on providing debt or equity investments to early-stage enterprises, providing low-income consumers with access to healthcare, water, housing, alternative energy, or agricultural inputs.
Acumen is a New York-based social venture capital fund with presence in India, Pakistan and East Africa, and now in West Africa. Acumen provides patient capital to social entrepreneurs with commercially viable businesses that provide goods and services to the poor. Their business model combines philanthropic funding and market principles to solve the poverty problem in the world. Acumen invests in businesses that are commercially viable and sustainable, but they must provide critical goods and services to the poor.
Their chosen portfolio sectors include agriculture, education, energy, healthcare, low-cost housing, and water and sanitation.
Globally, they have invested $85 million in 75 companies in their 12 years of existence. In West Africa, within two and half years, Acumen has invested $6 million in four businesses – two in Nigeria and two in Ghana.
In Nigeria, Acumen has invested in PAGA, a mobile payment platform, and in Sproxil, an anti-counterfeiting technology company. In Ghana, Acumen has
invested in GADCO, a rice production company, and in Medeem, a land title provider.
Acumen has chosen Ghana and Nigeria as their anchor countries, as they see opportunities exist and social impact can be significant. By 2015, they believe their portfolio should stand at about $15 million based on the
strong pipeline they are seeing. Nigeria is key to their growth plans.
Prior to this role, Godfrey Mwindaare was chief investment officer in the African Development Bank, based in Tunisia. He also worked with Standard Bank in South Africa and Tanzania as senior manager (strategy and special projects) and head of retail and business banking at Barclays Capital in London.