Africa Specialty Risk Group CEO, Mikir Shah
Helios Investment Partners (“Helios” or the “Firm”) is pleased to announce the launch of Africa Specialty Risk Group (“ASR”) in partnership with Mikir Shah, former CEO of AXA Africa Specialty Risks, and Bryan Howett, former CEO of Old Mutual’s pan-African reinsurance operations. ASR is a reinsurance business focused on becoming the partner of choice to corporations through the provision of comprehensive and bespoke risk mitigating insurance solutions.
Helios, through its extensive financial services expertise in Africa, identified an unmet need in the reinsurance space to expand the continent’s long-term domestic capacity beyond its current capabilities. Having previously founded market-leading businesses such as Helios Towers, the Firm
took a similar pioneering approach in partnering with Mikir Shah and Bryan Howett to develop and increase domestic reinsurance capacity.
ASR will create tailored solutions for local and global customers, using Africa-specific pricing models coupled with a deep understanding of African risk and cultural environments. This provides corporates and investors with the confidence to grow their businesses, thereby unlocking investment activity, and the associated developmental benefits.
Mikir Shah, commenting on the partnership noted: “We chose to work with Helios given their extensive reach across Africa, their knowledge and experience in our key markets, as well as their established track record in helping entrepreneurial businesses to scale.”
Souleymane Ba, a Partner at Helios, said: “We have identified a sustained lack of adequate insurance capacity across Africa, which has been exacerbated further by Covid-19 as global reinsurance providers focus on their home markets. ASR has been established to address this gap by providing specialist risk mitigation products which companies and capital providers operating in Africa have found difficult to access to date. As demonstrated in the US and Europe, private equity has a long and successful track record of stepping up to fill unmet insurance capacity to de-risk and support investment activity.”
ASR intends to work proactively with local regulators and clients to develop skills and provide training to local underwriters. Environmental, social and governance considerations are central to ASR’s values, particularly in relation to local capacity building.
The investment in ASR is being made from Helios’ latest fund, Helios Investors IV, L.P., whose investors include CDC Group (the UK’s development finance institution) and the International Finance Corporation (a member of the World Bank Group).
North Ladder Secures $5 Million Series A Financing Round To Accelerate Global Expansion
North Ladder Team (Source: Siddharth Sudhakar)
North Ladder (previously called BuyBack Bazaar), a UAE based secured trading platform for pre-owned luxury assets and electronics, today announced a $5 million Series A funding round led by regional venture capital firm BECO Capital. The new investment will help the company scale up its technology platform, enhance customer experience and pursue further geographic expansion.
The homegrown start-up also revealed that it will begin operating under the new brand name North Ladder effective immediately, representing the company’s strategy of charting new markets and supporting individuals across the globe in their endeavour to elevate their financial situation. The disruptive and innovative technology platform is the first of its kind, providing access to verified buyers of second-hand goods and instant cash. North Ladder currently enables users to sell electronics such as phones, laptops, tablets, and smart watches, as well as luxury assets including watches and cars, with a unique option of buying it back within a few months.
The Series A financing builds on an exceptional year for North Ladder which saw rapid growth of its clients, network of buyers and corporate partnerships. To date, the platform has witnessed over 15,000 transactions in the UAE, with over 85 different nationalities served while earning an impressive 4.9/5 customer satisfaction rating. In 2021, the start-up is looking to establish its presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States, with a focus on scaling the platform significantly in the next 18 to 24 months.
“North Ladder has demonstrated tremendous success with its unique model of helping customers access immediate funds against their assets. The provision of a seamless and trusted digital platform for the sale of pre-owned goods has immense socially transformative potential at a global scale. We are excited about partnering with them to take their services to the next level,” said Dany Farha, CEO & Managing Partner, BECO Capital.
The company recently appointed Sandeep Shetty, former Managing Director of the core ride hailing business at Careem, as Cofounder and Chief Executive Officer of North Ladder. Prior to Careem he also led the digital transformation program at Emirates NBD and has held leadership positions at McKinsey & Company and GE Capital across India, the United States and the Middle East. Sandeep joins the leadership team of co-founders Pishu Ganglani and Ricky Husaini who together bring years of prior global start-up, financial services, technology and operations experience.
“Our exciting partnership with the region’s leading investor BECO Capital gives us the opportunity to scale operations in the UAE and expand to other strategic markets, with the mission of meaningfully impacting people across all strata of society,” said Sandeep Shetty of North Ladder. “Our global auction brings professional buyers from around the world to compete and provide local customers with the best prices and no hidden surprises.”
Since its launch in 2018, North Ladder has been recognized as one of the “Top 5 innovative start-ups in the MENA region” by PayPal backed accelerator, Village Capital and awarded as an Innovator by Entrepreneur Middle East.
Legacy Premier Foundation Congratulates New World Trade Organisation (WTO) Head Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala © AFP via Getty Images
The entire team at Legacy Premier Foundation hereby congratulates Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala as the new chief of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
With a proud heart and jubilation, we salute our quintessential woman of many feats on this global call to service.
This is a perfect example of a narrative that says “when opportunity meets preparedness success is inevitable”. Madam Director, you are an epitome of this simple quote. Over the years, you’ve carefully built a track record of competence with your records very visible in the public domain.
We are very pleased to send our warmest congratulations on your appointment as the seventh (7th) Director General of the foremost World Trade Organization, also making history as the first African and female to hold this prestigious position.
At this time where the world is battling with the Covid-19 pandemic, with a gradual return to normalcy, there are still some undulating terrains in the global trade landscape. We believe with you at the helm of affairs coupled with 25 years of diplomatic dealings and demonstrated leadership as a World Bank executive, you will saddle the affairs of the WTO and the entire global trade economy through these sensitive times.
We wish you much success in your new post and we look forward to the pleasure of working with you, in the place of making our African continent prominent in the scheme of world trades, and much more rejuvenation of hope that an African has all it takes to get to the zenith of his or her career without any equivocation.
We wish you a resounding success with legendary actions for global impact.
Signed: Dr Remi Duyile, Former VP, Bank of America and Founder, Legacy Premier Foundation
Kasha Global Inc. secures $1 Million DFC equity investment to grow and scale across East Africa
Kasha Global Inc. beneficiaries (Source: DFC)
U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) today announced the disbursement of a $1 million equity investment in Kasha Global Inc., an e-commerce company that provides women’s health and personal care products to customers in Rwanda and Kenya, alongside investments from Finnfund and Swedfund. This investment was made through DFC’s Portfolio for Impact and Innovation (PI2) initiative, which aims to finance early-stage, high-impact solutions to challenges facing developing countries.
“High quality and equitable health services and products are fundamental to the wellbeing, and ultimately the economic potential, of women and girls in the developing world,” said Vice President for DFC’s Office of External Affairs Algene Sajery. “DFC is proud to support Kasha’s innovative business model, which is helping transform the personal care and health system supply chain in East Africa, and provide financing that strengthens economic growth in the region.”
“Kasha is excited to bring DFC on as an investor and as a long term partner,” said Kasha Global Founder & CEO Joanna Bichsel. “With the U.S. Government’s significant ongoing investments in the areas of Global Health and with DFC’s focus on supporting businesses proven to drive both commercial returns as well as social impact, we see strong win-win opportunities as Kasha continues to grow and scale across East Africa and beyond. We have been impressed with the level of support DFC is extending into emerging market businesses and into women-led and women-focused businesses.”
Many women in emerging markets lack access to safe, high-quality, and affordable health and personal care products as well as information surrounding these products. As products are often out of stock or counterfeit, the purchasing experience can be frustrating and disempowering for many women. Further, the stigma surrounding women’s health and personal care products in some cultures can have serious consequences. A UNESCO report estimates that one out of 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa misses school during her menstrual period, amounting to as much as 20 percent of the school year.
Since 2016, Kasha has helped address women’s lack of access to health and personal care products by delivering a unique, discreet and user-friendly purchasing experience to the customers it serves. Through its e-commerce platform, Kasha has reconfigured the supply chain, delivery channel, and customer experience in order to meet demand. Kasha’s business-to-customer line of business directly sells products to customers in rural and urban locations across East Africa, especially low income communities. Kasha empowers over 400 local women to enter hard to reach communities to provide information and assist customers in purchasing products. The company’s business model is optimized to reach low income communities. Kasha has delivered over 1 million product units to over 130,000 unique customers, of which 63% are low income customers in Rwanda and Kenya.
Despite Kasha’s rapid growth and loyal customer base, fundraising is extremely challenging for start-ups in emerging markets, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. By investing $1 million in equity through the PI2 program, DFC aims to help Kasha fill the financing gap, providing the e-commerce company with the capital required to scale its business.
DFC’s investment advances its 2X Women’s Initiative, which has committed more than $4 billion of investment in projects that empower women in developing countries. The Kasha investment also qualifies for the 2X Challenge, an initiative of the G7 countries to support women’s economic empowerment. Kasha was co-founded by two women, 50 percent of Kasha’s senior leadership team are women, 75 percent of board members are women, 64 percent of Kasha’s employees are women, and the company’s products center around care for women and girls. Based on Kasha’s commitment to the 2X Challenge criteria, Kasha, DFC, Finnfund and Swedfund have signed a side letter which highlights Kasha’s 2X accomplishments and sets an example for other companies that seek to improve their businesses using the 2X Challenge criteria.
By focusing on innovative care delivery models and supply chain innovations, DFC’s financing also advances the agency’s Health and Prosperity Initiative, helping respond to COVID-19 and other health-related issues in Rwanda and Kenya.
Swedfund is Sweden’s development finance institution. Finnfund is the Finnish development finance institution.