Today, the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA) announces the appointment of Olusola Lawson to its Board of Directors. Lawson is currently co-Managing Director at Africa Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM) and brings more than 16 years of corporate finance and infrastructure equity investment experience to AVCA. Olusula’s appointment to the Board of Directors comes following the retirement of former AIIM CEO Jurie Swart from the company and the AVCA Board.
As a Board Member, Olusola will advise AVCA on the strategic challenges and opportunities emerging through the post-COVID recovery period and build the organisation’s position and voice to champion the role of the PE and VC industry in enabling African economies to leverage innovation and “build back better”.
Olusola has played a leading role in the growth of AIIM’s pan-African investment activities since founding the Lagos office in Nigeria in 2011. He was responsible for originating, executing and managing more than USD 500 million in equity investments in the digital infrastructure, power, renewables, midstream and transportation sectors across Africa. This includes the co-development, construction and successful exit of the Azura Power project in Nigeria, the first project-financed power deal to close in Nigeria in 20 years.
Currently, he serves as a Director on the AIIM Board and is a member of the Executive Committee and the Business Review Group of Old Mutual Alternative Investments. Olusola is also a member of the AIIM Investment Committees, namely AIIF3 and IDEAS.
Ms. ‘Tokunboh Ishmael, Chair of the AVCA Board, remarked, “We would like to thank Jurie for his five years of service to AVCA and congratulate him on his retirement. Jurie played a key role in cementing our reputation as the leading industry body and representing the interests of our members. We are confident that Olusola will be a valuable addition to our Board. His extensive experience in African and European markets, particularly within the infrastructure sector, will add substantial value to AVCA and its members. I look forward to working with him to unlock the potential of private capital to power Africa’s post-COVID recovery and growth.”
Prior to serving on several portfolio company boards including Lekki Toll Road, Azura Power and Starsight Power Utilities, Olusola worked as an Investment Manager in Macquarie Group’s European Infrastructure Funds team in London. At Macquarie, he worked on various European infrastructure transactions in a principal capacity while playing a key role in portfolio company management, primarily in the petrochemical storage and transportation sectors.
Commenting on his appointment, Olusola Lawson remarked, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to the continued growth of AVCA through its Board. AVCA has played a key role in facilitating and championing the industry’s role in growing local economies, creating jobs and bringing prosperity to the African continent.”
Helios Investment Partners Backed Africa Specialty Risk Group Launches
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).
METTĀ And Nairobi Garage Join Forces To Create Kenya’s Biggest Innovation Community
Nairobi, September 15, 2020 – Kenya’s leading co-working space Nairobi Garage and entrepreneurial club METTĀ have announced they are combining their services to create the country’s largest innovation community, offering flexible access to all their workspaces and networks, as well as a new digital event series.
African businesses are facing a disrupted marketplace due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with day-to-day operations and the economic outlook for businesses of all sizes feeling the impact. As a result, there is a renewed demand for flexible work space arrangements, allowing companies to remain responsive to the market and keep their teams productive without tying up much-needed working capital.
As Kenya’s leading co-working space, Nairobi Garage is home to over 150 companies across its four premises, giving members total flexibility when it comes to the office space they need, as well as offering a range of add-on business development, collaboration, and networking opportunities.
METTĀ is a club for the entrepreneurial community to connect, share knowledge and bring ideas to life. With 370 members in Nairobi, and over 15,000 members in its digital community, METTĀ offers a range of events, workshops and corporate innovation programmes.
By joining forces, METTĀ and Nairobi Garage members will have access to both organisations’ workspaces throughout Nairobi – with drop-in and private office options available in Westlands, Riverside Drive, Karen and Kilimani -, as well as to all the complimentary business support services provided across the two communities. All members will benefit from exclusive corporate collaborations and partnerships – such as discounts, programmes, and first dibs on funding and training opportunities.
The organisations have also combined their entrepreneurship events and will launch an online event series offering thought leadership, innovation and practical business advice. The series involves six monthly events, including panel discussions, networking e-meetups, and podcasts.
“We are confident in the resilience and capacity of Kenyan entrepreneurs to come back from this pandemic stronger than ever. We want to support them in doing just that, and this merging of forces is a demonstration of our belief in the strength of both our communities. It’s of utmost importance that innovation in business continues to be a priority, and we’re here to facilitate that process for the country’s top entrepreneurs,” says Hannah Clifford, director of Nairobi Garage.
Esther Mwikali, general manager of METTĀ, says: “We have always believed that “Innovation doesn’t happen in isolation”. Outstanding innovation breakthroughs occur when the right people collaborate, to spark commercialisation and scale. This partnership is a true testament to our
vision, as we are taking our own advice and leading by example – the value we offer our customers and the community at large through this is greatly increasing.”
With the business landscape plagued by so many uncertainties in the COVID-era, Nairobi Garage and METTĀ want to provide a sturdy, strong foundation for businesses in Kenya to thrive. By combining their two trusted names, members can have the most complete support available to weather the current storm.
To become a member, people should write to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
New members joining in the month of September get 10% off their first month’s membership.
Ozow launches payment platform that enables financial and digital inclusion for all South Africans
Ozow a digital payment company, today launched the Ozow Revolution. According to the company, the Ozow Revolution is a visionary effort to make digital payments available to everyone and create greater opportunity to participate in the digital economy- especially for historically excluded communities that rely on costly and unsecure cash payments.
Thomas Pays, CEO and co-founder of Ozow, says far too many consumers and businesses have been excluded from the benefits of the digital economy. “As an impact-driven and market-led company, Ozow is at the forefront of developing breakthrough payments products that enable greater financial and digital inclusion.
While more than 80% of South Africans hold a bank account, only one out of every eight have a credit card. This locks the vast majority of consumers out of digital payments and excludes them from a huge range of services. By simplifying payments for consumers and merchants alike and supporting them with helpful innovations such as zero-rated data costs, we can enable greater participation in the digital economy for all consumers and businesses.”
As the first step of its Ozow Revolution, the company has introduced two new online payments solutions to its platform for the South African market, Ozapp and Ozow PIN.
Ozapp is a progressive web application (PWA) that enables any customer with a bank account or eWallet to transact without a card through a QR-code enabled payment. Pays says it is designed to ease adoption by doing away with the need for a dedicated native application.
“Despite smartphone penetration standing at more than 90%, many South Africans still rely on lower-cost models that lack the storage space needed for many mobile apps,” says Pays. “In a further effort at enabling greater digital inclusion, the data needed to use Ozapp is zero-rated, meaning consumers have zero data cost to make use of the progressive web app and can make payments anytime at any Ozow-enabled point-of-sale or pretty much anywhere, including the comfort of their home.”
To further ease the customer experience and drive greater adoption, Pays also introduced Ozow PIN, which radically simplifies EFT payments through an easy four-step payment process that can be completed in seconds. The speed and convenience of Ozow PIN makes a compelling value proposition for more South Africans to engage in e-commerce at a time when physical retail is experiencing unprecedented disruption.
“With the launch of Ozow PIN, we are revolutionising the payment experience with a new patent-pending simplified payment innovation that delivers a seamless customer experience without compromising on safety,” says Pays. “And in keeping with our commitment to greater digital and financial inclusion, Ozow PIN will be developed into all eleven official languages by the end of the year.”
Pays says Ozow PIN is particularly beneficial to merchants and e-commerce sites with large numbers of returning customers that make regular purchases. “By reducing the time needed to make EFT payments and removing friction in the transaction process, Ozow PIN can help grow transaction volumes while attracting new customers. It’s a win-win for consumers and merchants.”
In addition, individuals and sole proprietors can now make use of Ozow as a payment provider too free of charge for the first 12 months or up to R1-million free processing per month. Previously, Ozow’s payments innovations were only available to enterprise and SME merchants, but due to demand, the company has expanded its services to sole proprietors and individuals.
The Ozow Revolution is driven by a healthy pipeline of new payment products that will be launched over the coming months. “We’re only just getting started with developing new innovations that enable more South Africans to enjoy the benefits of digital payments. As a business, we will continue to find ways to drive digital inclusion until every person on the African continent can make or receive safe, convenient digital payments.”