Category Archives: entrepreneurship

FSD Kenya Insights on Youth and Agri Finance

FSD Kenya, which aims to create value through financial inclusion, have just released their 2017 Annual Report which contains findings from ongoing research projects around Kenya.  

Some excerpts 

  • The unregulated digital credit space in Kenya, mainly phone loans, has overtaken other forms of credit in the country with 19% paying digital loans, much more than 17% repaying family/friends or 14% paying shopkeepers for goods taken on credit. 
  • 45% of borrowers through mobile phones are now female. Usage has shifted from day-to-day to investing in businesses, but 14% are (900,000 individual) are juggling multiple loans, and half have defaulted or delayed loan repayment.
  • Tweaking Agri-Finance: There is lack of access of credit to agriculture which receives just 4% of banking credit. This could be partly due to lack of data so they are partnering with M-Kopa Labs to research other models. Hall of M-Kopa customers make money from agriculture and buy solar products so the research aims to see of if the pay-as-you-go model can be applied to other products like farm inputs, water tanks, fertilizer, animal feed etc.
  • Youth Finance products: 40% of the population is under 15 years but youth are underserved by the banking sector. They see money as a means of survival and savings as being for buying something not long-term or unanticipated needs. There is a lack of appropriate financial products for the youth, and this could be because older adults are the ones developing financial solution for the youth. One outcome of this research, funded by Funded by SIDA and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation could be a new class of lending to the youth, a development by FSD Kenya and the Kenya Bankers Association. 

  • They are also involved in the Kenya Hunger Safety Net program in which the government transfers Kshs 20 billion ($200 million) a year to people over 70 years.
  • Visiting economist John Kay gave a lecture where he advised that Kenya should develop local financial solution and not adopt western financial models.
  • Smartphone uptake still low, but USSD is how Kenyans can access robust banking services with cheap handsets.

SheTrades Commonwealth Launches

The International Trade Center (ITC) has launched a women-economic empowerment program for female entrepreneurs to be able to trade across borders.

“SheTrades” aims to grow one million female entrepreneurs, and is starting with Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Bangladesh, in export-ready fields of apparel (textiles), agriculture (tea, coffee, avocado) and services (ICT, tourism). The program will offer training, capacity building and support to enable women, entrepreneurs to be more competitive, and prepare their companies for export markets such as through obtaining certifications, connecting to buyers and being able to talk they way into deals.

The SheTrades program is based on seven principle of quality data, fair policies, public procurement, striking business deals, enabling market access, unlocking financial services, and securing ownership rights. Kenya is acknowledging for having female supportive laws such as setting aside 30% of government procurement for women, youth and persons with disabilities, though the uptake of this has lagged. It also has some women-focused funding initiatives while Barclays Kenya has a program with ITC  to increase women’s access to international trade opportunities.

SheTrades is funded by the UK’S DFID and the SheTrades Commonwealth Kenya initiative is open to companies that are at least 30% female-owned and female-managed are eligible for sign up on the SheTrades website.

Digital App Loans: Understanding Borrower Behavior

An Interesting conversation was started by a tweet by Francis Waithaka on the true borrowing of costs of app loans that hundreds of Kenyans take every day by making a few clicks on their phones.

It elicited a lot of comments on the cost of finance offers to Kenyans, since an interest capping law passed in 2016 that restrict banks to lend at a maximum of 14%, the lack of regulation of app loans who may be taking advance of Kenyans by charging usurious rates etc. It also led to a mention of a research report from Micro Save about the digital credit landscape in Kenya that was shared by one of the authors.

The Microsave Report (PDF) titled “Where Credit Is Due: Customer Experience of Digital Credit In Kenya”  had lots of insights. It was drawn from feedback from 1,009 farmers located in 50 villages, equally split between Central Kenya and Western Kenya, and also with an equal number of men and women in the study.

At the end of it, the report makes some recommendations to the Communications Authority of Kenya and the Central Bank of Kenya – such as to control the type of messaging sent by text to consumers, and to require app loan companies to share information and to list all defaulters, respectively.

Habits of Borrowers 

  • There is a preference for Chama’ s, SACCO’s and M-Shwari as a source of funding. App loan amounts are too small for significant investments.
  • Majority of the customers took up loans to smooth consumption, emergencies or to boost business.
  • They don’t understand terms and conditions of app loans and they don’t understand credit reference.
  • There are three types of borrowers: repayers (who pay loans on time), defaulters  (who don’t understand the consequences of being listed), and jugglers who take both traditional and app loans – but if they are financially stretched, they are more likely to repay the traditional loans.
  • Customers have learned to game the system through timely repayment of loans and juggling multiple borrowers.
  • There is no extra “PIN” required to request and withdraw an app loan and some family members have done this in secret leading the phone owner to default on a loan.
  • Digital credit usage doubled in Kenya between 2015 and 2016, with awareness and usage of digital credit by far lower in rural Kenya.
  • Digital credit, which offers privacy, is replacing shop credit and family/ friends as financiers.
  • The simplicity of the loan application procedures matters;  too much information requested or if there are too many variables that make it confusing, makes potential borrowers drop off.

Phone Types 

Download a loan app or use USSd

  • App usage is rather low – and this probably related to lower usage of smartphones as their batteries rarely last a full day as compared to cheaper feature phones that retain battery charge for several days of use.
  • Phones are mainly used for money transfer,  deposits, and withdrawals. There is little usage to get information or to browse the internet
  • 64% of respondents in the survey had a basic phone (57% in 2015). Smartphones were 14%, growing slightly and off-setting feature phones which declined slightly to 26%.
  • Loss of a phone may result in a  borrower defaulting on repayment.

Credit Reference Bureaus

  • Formal lenders require clearance from a credit reference bureau (CRB) which costs $22 (i.e Kshs 2,200) and that may exclude borrowers from formal finance. App loans don’t require this, e except that borrowers have not been black-listed.
  • One concern is there is little understanding of credit reference bureaus, and of channels for redress of any disputes.
  • Not all fintech’s report loans to credit reference bureaus.

App loan costs

  • High loan/interest charges are not a concern as they are comparable to other informal money lenders

At the time of the survey, M-Shwari issued 62 million loans (worth Kshs 1.3 trillion), while Equitel and KCB about 4 million each. In comments to accompany the release of their 2017 bank results last month, KCB had 13 million mobile customers, Equity Bank has 12.1 million, while a  CBA statement noted that the bank also serves 33 million mobile savings & loans customers, in East Africa, in partnership with mobile money operators.

Idea Exchange: Food, Fellowship, Counties, Army Worm, Film, Sports, AI, Oil Opportunities

New, and ongoing, opportunities to apply for.

UNCTAD: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, jointly with Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of the Alibaba Group, have the eFounders Initiative aims to help bridge the digital divide faced by young entrepreneurs in developing countries and allow them to grasp the opportunities of e-commerce ecosystems.  This capacity building programme to empower 1, 000 e-commerce entrepreneurs from developing countries over a period of five years to become catalysts and the next course will focus on African entrepreneurs from Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda and will take place at the campus of the Alibaba Business School in Hangzhou, China from 19 to 29 June 2018. Application Deadline: 4 May 2018
Earth Journalism Network: Climate Change Media Partnership 2018 Reporting Fellowships Apply to report from both the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco and the UN Climate Negotiations in Katowice, Poland.

The Africa Food Prize is the preeminent award for recognizing the extraordinary individual or institution whose contributions to African agriculture are forging a new era of sustainable food security and economic opportunity for all Africans.  The deadline for nominations for the USD 100,000 prize is Tuesday 15 May and the 2018 winner will be unveiled at a high-profile gala dinner at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2018 this September in Kigali, Rwanda.

African Food Security Prize Launched to Stop Devastating Crop Pest: Feed the Future, supported by Land O’Lakes International Development and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, has opened its call for applications for the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize that offers to fund up to $400,000 in digital solutions that aim to help stop the spread of fall armyworm in Africa-a pest that is devastating agriculture and demolishing billions of dollars’ worth of crops across the continent. The application deadline is 14 May 2018 and applications may involve a range of digital solutions and must demonstrate how the proposed tool(s) will help smallholder farmers and those that reach them, such as extension agents, monitor, identify, treat or report the incidence of fall armyworm.

Africa Innovation Summit II: A call for application has been launched across Africa for innovations addressing the continent’s challenges – which include energy access, water, food insecurity, health systems, and governance. Applications close on 15 April.

The 2018 African Union Research Grant offers up to $9 million of funding. The deadline for applications is May 22 The call supports research on food, nutrition security and sustainable agriculture (FNSSA).

Andela Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria Fellowships:  The recruitment Schedule for Andela Kenya fellowship cycle 29, and Andela Nigeria, cycle 33 deadline is May, while for the Andela Uganda fellowship cycle 9 and boot camp, the deadline is April 27.

Anzisha Prize: Aims to find a young entrepreneur who is making a difference in their community,  aged 15- 22 so that they can have the chance to win a shared amount of US$100 000 and become an Anzisha fellow. The deadline is 15 April.

Asoko, in a new collaboration with the London Stock Exchange Group, PwC and CDC Group is seeking Africa’s leading private companies – companies to Inspire Africa for a leading report showcasing Africa’s 1,000 most dynamic private, high-growth companies. Deadline is June 11.

BAKE Awards 2018: The nominees of the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) Awards 2018, that recognizes and awards the best in Kenyan blogging have been announced  in categories including Technology, Photography, Creative Writing, Best Business Blog, Food , Environmental , Fashion & Style, Agricultural, Best New Blog, Corporate Blog, Sports, Entertainment, Education, Travel, Public Health, County Blog, Religious or Spirituality , Lifestyle, Beauty & Hair, Best Video Blog (Vlog), Social Issues & Active Citizenship, and Kenyan Blog of the Year. Voting for the winners is now on, up to 30 April.

The BMCE Bank of Africa – African Entrepreneurship Award 2018 has $1 million of prizes and a trip to Morocco for entries in categories of innovation or sports entrepreneurship. Deadline is  April 30, and more details here.

Chatham House invite applicants for the Academy Africa Fellowship in the Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs in research topics for 2018-19 of
new technologies and their impact on international security (with a focus on artificial intelligence or space), the geo-economics of technology, climate-resilient development ( managing energy transition in a low-income context) and the rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) in Africa. The deadline for applications is 29 April.

DEMO Africa 2018: DEMO Africa is a launch pad for emerging technology and trends, attracting over 2000 people from around the globe to experience the finest African innovations. The top five startups from DEMO Africa will be sponsored to Silicon Valley for an all-expense paid trip to be part of the Lions@frica Innovation Tour. Now accepting startup applications until June 15.

EDiT Research Fellows in Applied Development Finance: The Global Development Network (GDN) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have partnered to create the ambitious EIB-GDN Program in Applied Development Finance for deepening understanding of EIB’s investment operations in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. Under this partnership, GDN and EIB will identify, train and deploy teams of research professionals in the ACP regions to conduct “deep dive” studies of selected projects funded under EIB’s Impact Financing Envelope (IFE).

Kenyan winners from the Tony Elumelu Foundation announced earlier this year

Fourth Mining 4i: The Strathmore Extractives Industry Centre (SEIC), in collaboration with the Kipya (Africa) Limited and Extractives Baraza, hosts the Fourth Mining 4i, an annual invite-only forum which focuses on the promotion of Kenya’s mineral potential by attracting investment in technological innovation.

Google Africa Scholarship Program:  Web and Android Scholarships available for residents of African countries. Some scholarship recipients may be able to participate in an Andela Learning Community with our partners from Andela. Finally, top students from each track will earn full scholarships to one of our Android or Web Development Nanodegree programs. Applications due by April 24.

Kalasha Kenya: Submit your entries for the #MyKenyaMyStory competition for a chance to walk away with grand prizes worth Kshs 500,000 Check poster for more details.

The Competition Authority of Kenya #CAKuzaAwards2018 is celebrating excellence in Kenyan Broadcasting. Vote for your favorite TV and Radio Station, by sending the word KUZA to 15601. Voting is free.

Merck Accelerator Nairobi Satellite Program: In partnership with Mettā, Nairobi, Merck Accelerator’s satellite program in Nairobi is seeking early-stage startups with no more than 4 years in existence, startups in the fields of Healthcare, Life Sciences, Performance Materials and other search fields such as Biosensing and Interfaces, and Precision Farming. For startups based in East Africa, Nairobi Applications are open to May 5, 2018, and founders that are available are to attend a boot camp on May 15-18 in Nairobi, Kenya, if selected.

MEST Africa Challenge 2018: MEST is celebrating 10 years of supporting aspiring African entrepreneurs with a first Pan-African pitch competition, the MEST Africa Challenge. MEST Africa Challenge 2018 will give winning applicants the chance to meet and pitch to leading investors, corporate and ecosystem partners from Africa and beyond, at the finals in Cape Town. The trip will be fully funded. The winning entrepreneurs could receive, as much as, sh.5,000,000 ($50,000) in equity investment and space in one of MEST’s incubators. Companies that apply must be primarily tech-focused. Details here and the deadline for applications is April 22.

Microsoft Imagine Cup 2018: Microsoft has announced this year’s Imagine Cup, the students’ developer technology and innovation competition that will see winners walk with $100, 000 in prizes. Imagine Cup participants create or join a team of up to 3 students. Together, they make an original technology project from start to finish: come up with a great idea, make a plan, build a project, and submit. This year’s Imagine Cup has three special awards that represent the current state of digital transformation: Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Mixed Reality.

Norwegian Accelerator, Pangea, a platform connecting African startups with international investment & expertise, has shortlisted 11 start-ups who will be considered for funding of up to 50,000 USD per startup. The 11 start-ups companies are drawn from Kenya-9, Egypt -1 and Nigeria-1. Pangea plans to launch a crowd investment platform in June 2018, allowing accelerated startups further access to funding.

The 8th Orange Social Venture Prize for Innovative Startups in Africa and Middle East (50,000 Euros in Prizes) aims to reward the best innovative business projects. Application deadline is May 31, but now no more Kenyan firms are eligible after Orange divested from Kenya.

Pitch AgriHack 2018 for young agriculture entrepreneurs is a competition for agriculture startups owned by young entrepreneurs, with reward being capacity building and access to a grant. It is organized by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB). 8 winners will be selected from 2 categories and there will be an additional category to reward a woman-owned, founded or co-founded startup by one of the partnering organizations that made Pitch AgriHack 2018 possible. It is open to e-agriculture startups offering digital services in the agriculture sector. Details here and the deadline is 21 May.

She Leads Africa Accelerator is set to provide training and funding for women-led technology enabled businesses. The 2018 Accelerator will consist of three 1-week residencies in Lagos where entrepreneurs will receive training from the SLA team, business leaders and experts. Applications close on May 20.

Upstream Oil & Gas Awards: The Upstream Awards 2018 is a ceremony to recognize and celebrate outstanding achievements from within the emerging upstream oil and gas industry. Nominations have closed for, among others, nominees for company of the year, drilling contractor, oil field services ​company of the year, upstream CEO, upstream woman of the year award, local community award, local supplier, oil & gas future leader, upstream financier of the year, journalist of the year, legislator of the year, engineering award, life achievement award, and upstream county award.

USAID and Feed the Future have issued an invite to Sub-Saharan Africa women in agribusiness for the Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs Prize 2018. It is open to women helping smallholder farmers increase access to agricultural input (seeds, fertilizer, etc.), technology (ICT, irrigation, etc.), financial and risk management services. Winning applicants will enjoy access to capital to scale and improve their work. Details here and the deadline for applications is 25 April.

Visa will open the first Visa Everywhere Initiative for Sub Saharan Africa to young developers at this year’s Nairobi Tech Week (NTW) taking place from April 19- 21. Developers who win the Visa-led hackathon during the tech week will automatically gain entry into the Visa Everywhere Initiative where they will have an opportunity to compete for a chance to win up to US $50,000, at a regional event in the region.

WTO 2018 Essay Award for Young Economists:  The WTO has issued a call for young economists to submit papers for the 2018 WTO Essay Award. The award aims to promote high-quality research on trade policy and international trade co-operation and to reinforce the relationship between the WTO and the academic community. Essays must be submitted by 1 June 2018, must address issues related to trade policy and international trade co-operation and cannot exceed 15,000 words.

2018 World Travel Awards:  Nominees have been selected and voting for African winners in is open up to 19 August in categories including (*Kenyan nominees in brackets) – Leading Luxury Private Villa (Cottar’s Bush Villa, Maasai Mara) Africa’s Leading Tented Safari Camp(Elephant Pepper Camp Masai Mara, Fairmont Mara Safari Club, Finch Hattons, Mahali Mzuri, Porini Amboseli Camp, Selenkay Conservancy) Africa’s Leading Safari Lodge (Borana Lodge, Kicheche Bush Camp, Loisaba, Ngerende Island Lodge, ol Donyo Lodge, Sirikoi),  Africa’s Leading Meetings & Conference Centre 2018  (The Kenyatta International Conference Centre), Africa’s Leading Serviced Apartments (Cowrie Shell Beach Apartments), Africa’s Leading Private Island Resort (Manda Bay, Rusinga Island Lodge) Africa’s Leading Luxury Hotel Villa (The Cliff Villa, Alfajiri Villas) Africa’s Leading Hotel Residences (Palacina),  Africa’s Leading Hotel (Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, Fairmont The Norfolk Hotel), Africa’s Leading Green Hotel ( Nairobi Serena Hotel, The Aberdare Country Club) Africa’s Leading Family Resort (Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, Leopard Beach Resort & Spa), Africa’s Leading Business Hotel 2018 (Fairmont The Norfolk Hotel, Radisson Blu Hotel, Nairobi Upperhill, Tribe Hotel), Africa’s Leading Boutique Hotel (Giraffe Manor, The Safari Collection,  Hemingways Nairobi, Lion in the Sun)  Africa’s Leading Beach Resort (AfroChic Diani Beach, Almanara Luxury Resort, Swahili Beach, The Majlis), Africa’s Leading All-Inclusive Resort 2018 (Diamonds Dream of Africa) Africa’s Leading Tourist Board 2018 (Kenya Tourism Board) and Africa’s Leading National Park (Masai Mara National Reserve).  

Kenya Airways has been nominated for Africa’s Leading Airline – Business Class, Africa’s Leading Airline – Economy Class, Africa’s Leading Airline, Africa’s Leading Airline Brand 2018 and Leading Inflight Magazine (Msafiri). Also nominated are Fly540 and Jambojet, for Africa’s Leading Low-Cost Airline 2018  and AirKenya, Fly540, Mombasa Air Safari, Safarilink Aviation, Tropic Air for Kenya’s Leading Domestic Safari Carrier 2018.

What other opportunities are there for readers to apply for?

Makini Schools Sold

Edit: September 4, 2018: A 71% interest in Makini School Limited (via Schole Mauritius Limited) was acquired on 1 May 2018 for a consideration of R130.8 million (about Sh930 million), disclosed Advtech in a trading update last week. (Read more in the Business Daily.)

EDIT April 17 2018:  One of South Africa’s leading private schools  will soon open its doors in burgeoning Tatu City. Crawford Kenya International College is the brainchild of JSE-listed ADvTECH, Africa’s largest private education provider which recently acquired the Makini group of schools. Set to open in September 2018, and with a capacity for 1700 students, Crawford Kenya will teach the UK/Cambridge Curriculum in modern, trendy facilities – which include a multifunctional indoor sports centre, a swimming pool, outdoor sports fields and tennis and basketball courts. Additionally, it will also provide high school boarding facilities.

Original April 3, 2018:  It’s now official: The Okelo family, the owners, and founders of the Makini group of schools, have agreed to sell the company to an international education partnership consisting of two pan-African educational institutions – ADvTECH Ltd (which is listed on the JSE in South Africa) and Scholé Ltd.

The Makini group was founded, fourty years ago, in 1978 by Dr. Mary Okelo, and her late husband Dr. Pius Okelo, who passed away in a road accident in 2004.

Makini has 8 schools on 4 campuses in Nairobi and Kisumu and 3,200 students in nursery, primary and secondary schools (from Kindergarten to Grade 12). The consortium that is acquiring all the shares in Makini has committed to enhancing the quality of education at Makini, and that the schools will continue teaching the Kenyan educational curriculum.

ADvTECH runs 117 educational sites in Southern Africa and Scholé operates schools in Zambia and Uganda – and Kisubi High School, a boarding school in Kampala with 900 students, will become part of the partnership. 

See other recent M&A deals