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SAMANU, Ethiopia’s largest FMCG platform raises $21 million

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SAMANU factory (Press Release: Norfund)

Norfund and a consortium of private investors managed by 54 Capital announce $21 million growth capital investment into Ethiopia’s largest FMCG platform SAMANU. Increased local production of edible oil will create jobs, increase food security, and provide income for up to 200,000 smallholder farmers.

SAMANU is a platform company with well-established brands operating in Ethiopia’s main FMCG sub-sectors (Tena Edible Oils, 555 and Aura Soap & Detergents, and Chef Luca wheat products). The investment by Norfund will fund the construction of a new solvent extraction plant to produce edible oils based on locally sourced sesame, sunflower and soya beans in its refineries. By reducing the dependency on imported raw materials, the investment aims to create jobs in value-addition and increase Ethiopia’s food security. The completion of a vertical integration project will also allow for increased export opportunities within the sectors the company already operates.

To ensure enough volume of locally produced oilseeds for its refineries, the company intends to develop large oilseeds clusters in Ethiopia over the next six years, providing livelihoods for 200,000 smallholder farmers. In the first six months post investment, the objective is to identify 642 clusters and sign contracts with around 5-7,000 smallholder farmers. Norfund, through its Business Support Facility, plans to use grant funding to assist contracted smallholder farmers with inputs like high quality seeds, fertilizers, training and capacity building, as well as agricultural technology to boost productivity.

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Andreas Davidsen, Norfund’s VP of Scalable Enterprises Agribusiness & Manufacturing, said: “We are excited to partner with SAMANU and support the execution of their vertical integration strategy, creating jobs and increasing food security. We strongly believe in the opportunities of local food production in Ethiopia and Norfund looks forward to working closely with the SAMANU management team and 54 Capital to help implement best in class practises and solutions”.

SAMANU is already home to some of Ethiopia’s leading FMCG brands and has ambitious plans to expand its product offering to meet rising demand for high quality locally produced brands. The investment, Norfund’s first in manufacturing in Ethiopia, signals strong institutional backing for the platform.

Saad Aouad, 54 Capital PE Advisors’ Chief Investment Officer, said: “It is a fantastic achievement for our investments in Ethiopia and our local management team to receive further institutional backing. It stands as testament to what we have been able to achieve in terms of nurturing high-quality popular brands and achieving scale through capacity expansion and how we intend to develop the next stage of the business. This investment demonstrates the robustness of this strategy for further enhancing the value chain within Ethiopia. Which will undoubtedly benefit from Norfund’s extensive experience across the continent”.

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Press Release

Ghana Fintech Awards 2022: DPO Pay Fintech Discovery of the Year

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Leading African digital payments company DPO Pay wins the Fintech Discovery of the year award in the 2022 Ghana Fintech awards. As an initiative of Arkel Limited – a Fintech research and management consulting firm – that is supported by the Ghana Fintech and Payments Association, the awards acknowledge the fintech products and services, technologies, fintech firms and dynamic doers in the fintech ecosystem.

DPO Pay’s Country Manager of Ghana, Frank Anwelle, said: “We are very proud and humbled to receive the Fintech Discovery of the Year Award. Our Team at DPO Pay extends their appreciation to the Ghana Fintech & Payments Association for recognising the hard work and commitment we hold to growing African businesses on a local and global scale. Our innovative approach to simplifying payment processing across Africa continues to drive the core objective of DPO Pay as a merchant-focused solution.”

The award judged international fintech companies operating in the Ghanaian Fintech space on providing best-in-class infrastructure for the deployment of fintech solutions and the ease of integration with third parties to offer financial and non-financial services. The Fintech Discovery of the Year Award recognizes international fintech companies, working within the local Ghanaian ecosystem to provide multiple choices to the industry and clients, ranging from payments infrastructure, credit and debit cards, mobile money, merchant acquisitions, and other payment methods, leading to an integrated financial sector.

Throughout 2022, DPO focused on bringing payment solutions closer to local businesses in Ghana. As part of its efforts, the company has partnered with Mastercard to enable thousands of businesses in Ghana to offer their customers greater choice and convenience by pivoting online and accepting digital payments. It has enabled enable merchants to safely, seamlessly and securely accept a wide range of digital payment methods including mobile money and via e-wallets – both locally and from abroad – in the currency of their choice.

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In addition, at the end of 2022 DPO released a new version of their payments app, DPO Pay Mobile. With several new features, DPO listened to merchant feedback to redesign and redevelop DumaPay. The app, previously DumaPay, now offers a variety of new features to allow for easier, more convenient transactions no matter where in Africa their businesses are. The new mobile payments application allows businesses to securely transact in multiple currencies across Africa.

Founded in 2006, DPO has developed integrated payments technology to support businesses of all sizes in over 20 countries and accepts payments securely and swiftly in all currencies and through many payment methods, including virtual cards, mobile money, and e-wallets.

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Heifer International Selects ThriveAgric, DigiCow and Brastorne as Winners of the 2022 AYuTe Africa Challenge

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Heifer International announced today the 2022 winners of the AYuTe Africa Challenge that supports agritech innovators: ThriveAgric of Nigeria, Kenya’s DigicCow and Botwana-based Brastorne Enterprises. ThriveAgric is a fast-growing start-up boosting farmer incomes and production with its breakthrough “agriculture operating system.” DigiCow is an agritech firm using digital tools to modernize production on small-scale dairy farms, while the digital technology for feature phones developed by Brastorne Enterprises is narrowing Africa’s rural digital divide.

“At a time when Africa is facing unprecedented food-related challenges, it is incredibly inspiring to see these young African champions firmly focused on an agriculture-led future that provides farmers with the innovations they need to succeed,” said Adesuwa Ifedi, senior vice president of Africa Programs, Heifer International. “We launched this competition in 2021, challenging African youths to bring us innovations poised to provide the positive disruption our farmers urgently need. ThriveAgric, DigiCow and Brastorne are more than ready to meet the moment,” she noted.

As winners of the 2022 AYuTe Africa Challenge, the three companies will receive a sizeable monetary investment: a total of USD 1.5 million in grants, along with ongoing support from a team of expert advisers accomplished business veterans to help them translate their funding into an aggressive expansion strategy. This is part of Heifer International’s commitment to support young entrepreneurs developing affordable tech innovations as they work to scale their businesses. Doing so makes new services and technologies available to African farmers to overcome long-standing challenges while attracting a new generation to unlock the huge potential of agriculture on the continent.

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All three of the 2022 winners are helping African farmers by providing a novel solution to everyday obstacles:

ThriveAgric addresses a key challenge for small-scale farmers in Africa—a lack of access to finance, technical advice, business skills and market opportunities. It does so by using a proprietary Agriculture Operating System to help a team of 2,000 field agents support some 500,000 farmers across 22 Nigerian states with insights to improve their production and profits.

“We’ve developed the technologies, strategies and partnerships we believe can build the largest network of productive, profitable farmers Africa has ever seen,” said Uka Eje, Thrive Agric’s co-founder and CEO. “ThriveAgric’s 500,000 farmers are already producing and earning much more than the average Nigerian farmer. Investors are responding to our potential and this prestigious award from Heifer International will accelerate our plans to expand across the continent.”

DigiCow is helping small-scale African dairy operations increase productivity with technology that provides free access to livestock management experts and links farmers to skilled and qualified veterinarians, artificial insemination providers and feed supply services—all from their mobile phones.

“I grew up watching my mom struggle to get our cows to produce enough milk, and I’ve spent 15 years working with small-scale dairy farmers, so I know the challenges farmers face,” said Peninah Wanja, co-founder of Nairobi-based DigiCow. “That’s why it’s been so exciting to see 60,000 farmers—many of them women—now using our DigiCow apps to become more profitable and productive. With this new support from Heifer International, I’m confident we can expand our reach to help small-scale dairy farmers across the continent.”

Brastorne‘s apps, such as mAgri, give farmers access to farming information, markets and short-term finance using the capabilities of any feature phone, such as SMS and interactive voice technology. The Brastorne mobile service Mpotsa (“Ask me”) provides rural unconnected mobile users with localized information, and Vuka harnesses USSD technology to allow users on any phone to create profiles, add friends, create chat groups, and more.   These technologies have helped farmers realize a 250% increase in yields and achieve 85% savings in communication and information access. The company also boasts 100% youth employment.

“About 80% of Africans cannot afford smartphones or expensive data — but they do have feature phones, and Brastorne is ensuring those phones connect farmers, youth and women to the resources they need,” said Martin Stimela, co-founder and CEO of Brastorne. “We look forward to working with Heifer International to connect the rural poor with equitable access to markets, information and community.”

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Partech Africa Annual Report 2022 On Africa Tech Venture Capital

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Partech Africa, the VC fund dedicated to technology startups in Africa, has issued its annual report on Africa Tech Venture Capital.

Amid the drastic pullback in global VC funding, the African tech ecosystem stands out with +8% growth from 2021. Debt funding doubled in volume to $1.5B, accounting for nearly a quarter of the total funding. Fintech, still leading, attracted 39% of the total equity volume; Nigeria retained the top spot with 23%

Partech Africa, the VC fund dedicated to technology startups in Africa, has issued its annual report on Africa Tech Venture Capital. The report, which aims to provide a practical picture of the state of the ecosystem, revealed that despite the global VC downturn, the African tech ecosystem grew faster than all other markets globally. 

Total funding invested into tech startups on the continent reached $6.5B, an increase of 8% vs 2021, spread across 764 deals – compared to 724 rounds in 2021. The report, consisting of disclosed and confidential deals, saw debt funding more than double in volume, reaching $1.55 billion through 71 deals [65% YoY growth]. In comparison, equity rounds showed a slight decline, as 653 African tech startups raised $4.9B [-6%] in 693 equity rounds [2% YoY growth].

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Focusing on the equity funding, the report revealed the ecosystem was still accelerating during Q1 and Q2 of 2022 compared to 2021, with the YoY comparison showing Q1 and Q2 at +127% YoY and +83% YoY, respectively. However, the global VC slowdown stifled growth in activity in Q3 [-65% YoY] and Q4 [-35% YoY]. In 2022, fundraising activities remained flat across all stages. At $1.4M, Seed+ ticket sizes averaged higher in 2022 [+12% YoY], while Series A remained the same at $8.5M. Later stages reverted to 2019 levels, as Series B and Growth round sizes dropped by -23% and -50% YoY, respectively. In addition, 2022 witnessed a significant reduction in the number of megadeals [over 100M], with only seven deals compared to 14 in 2021.

Speaking on the launch of the annual report, Tidjane Deme, General Partner at Partech, said: “2022 was a particularly challenging year for the venture ecosystem worldwide, as venture and growth investors scaled back their investment by a third. However, by comparison, our report revealed the African tech ecosystem showed great resilience, as more investors have doubled their commitment to the continent by investing in local teams and funds dedicated to the market, which is proving to be the best way forward.”

Overall, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and Kenya remain the top investment destinations in Africa, with a share of total volume staying relatively steady at 72%. Nigeria retained the top rank, bringing in  $1.2B in capital, despite a decline of 36% from 2021; South Africa, Egypt, and Kenya each attracted over $0.7B in funding, with Ghana completing the top 5 with just over $0.2B. Overall, 28 countries attracted equity funding in 2022, 13 of them in Francophone Africa..

In light of the market downturn, the report’s findings also revealed that Fintech, which has historically attracted sizable investments, was the most impacted by the slowdown in the number of large rounds. However, fintech remains the most funded sector in Africa, and this across all sources of capital, with 39% of the total equity volume [$1.9B] and 45% of the total debt volume [$691M]. Other sectors have experienced substantial growth and gained a meaningful share of the equity funding activity this year, most notably Cleantech, which made a big comeback with 18% of total equity funding at $863M [+347% YoY] but also 39% of the total debt funding at $605M. 

The report’s findings also show:

  • Female-founded startups raised 22% of all equity rounds in 2022, up 2 percentage points from 20% in 2021. They also contributed $644 Million or 13% of the total equity funding, down 3 percentage points from 16% in 2021.
  • Outside of the top 4 countries, Ghana ($202 million), Algeria ($150 million), Tunisia ($117 million) and Senegal ($105 million) were the only other countries that broke the $100M funding mark.
  • Despite a slowdown in the growth rate of equity investors, Africa’s tech ecosystem attracted 1,149 unique investors for the first time [+29% YoY in 2021]. African tech has seen more investors committed, with 89 participating in 5 or more deals (compared to 65 investors in 2021).
  • The number of debt investors active on the continent is growing 2.5x YoY, with a good mix of local debt institutions, international lenders with emerging market vehicles and Development Finance Institutions.

Cyril Collon, General Partner at Partech, added: “Much of our methodology has remained the same over the years, and we, therefore, can provide a snapshot of how the African continent has evolved over the years. Nigerian and the fintech vertical have remained at the top spot; however, in an environment where equity funding is more challenging, debt has proved to be a solid alternative source of African tech startups in 2022, which signals a maturity within each sector.”

Headquartered in Dakar, Partech Africa is the largest VC fund dedicated to technology startups in Africa. With a focus on Late Seed, Series A and B equity rounds in startups which are changing the way technology is used across multiple sectors, including education, mobility, finance and healthcare, the VC has, to date, invested in 17 African startups, such as Wave and TradeDepot. Using the same methodology as previous years, the seventh Partech Africa annual report on African tech start-ups only includes equity rounds where the total amount is higher than US$200K.

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