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Stakeholders berate MTN over persistent default, abuse of law

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Following double sanctions slammed on the MTN Group over allegations of illegal repatriation of $8.13 billion, and another $2 billion in outstanding taxes, capital market stakeholders believe these are a ‘dent’ on the firm’s corporate governance image.

They urged MTN to entrench best practice and accountability in its operations, and ensure that its business in Nigeria is in compliance with existing laws before listing on the nation’s bourse.

Admitting that the MTN’s Initial Public Offer (IPO) will emerge the biggest in the history of the Nigerian capital market if it comes, they however argued that the incessant abuse of the law as being alleged by the Government would erode investors’ confidence in the company even before the eventual listing.

According to them, investors’ have experienced untold hardship due to loss of investments in the past, and may not want to fall victim of future circumstances that would aggravate their plight.

The President, Proactive Shareholders Association, Taiwo Oderinde, urged MTN to tackle any corporate governance lapses before approaching the market for listing. “Companies, especially multinationals must play in accordance to the rules governing their business jurisdictions.
“They must go back and put their house in order before coming for the IPO because if they continue in this way, we will fight them on the floor of AGM.”

The Chief Relationship Officer, Foresight Securities Limited, Charles Fakrogba, said multinationals operating in a particular jurisdiction should not contravene the laws governing their business environment.He wondered why a telecoms giant like MTN would contravene tax laws as being alleged, considering the huge revenue they generate in Nigeria on a yearly basis.

“Can MTN behave this way in South Africa; this is bad image for MTN, and it would be difficult for them when they come to the market. They should ensure that they resolve all issues with government immediately because their corporate governance is at stake.”
In July 2016, MTN had announced that its board had resolved to proceed with preparations for a listing of its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

The mobile operator said the IPO will go ahead “as soon as commercially and legally possible,” and it has established a management task team with the responsibility to guide the company towards the listing.

According to pre-IPO documents seen by an international online news platform, MTN was to list its Nigerian unit worth $5.23 billion by July 2017. It planned to raise at least $400 million from the IPO to pay preference shareholders and go on a roadshow between May and June.

But given the protraction, operators are doubtful the MTN IPO will hold, and subsequent listing on the NSE this year, a development that had dampened investors spirit and whittled initial interest and enthusiasm for the proposed IPO.Furthermore, the huge fine recently slammed on the firm by Nigerian authorities over allegations of illegal repatriation of fund and unpaid taxes indicate that MTN may not approach the market in the near future as being anticipated.

However, the telecommunication giant has denied any wrongdoing on the two allegations, saying: “MTN Nigeria, as a law-abiding citizen of Nigeria, is committed to good governance and to abiding by the extant laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The re-emergence of these issues is regrettable as it damages investor confidence and, by extension, inhibits the growth and development of the Nigerian economy.”

(GuardianNG)
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Press Release

World Food Day: Jumia Launches the Africa Food Index 2020

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Ahead of World Food Day on 16th October, Jumia has published its 1st Africa Food Index showing the impact of COVID-19 on food trends in Africa. Online food delivery is changing habits in unexpected ways for businesses and consumers due to the pandemic. The growing popularity of fast food, coupled with the growing trends for convenience and value for money, have opened up opportunities for the food market in Africa. 

According to the Africa Development Bank, the continent’s US$ 313 billion food and beverage market is projected to reach US$ 1 trillion by 2030. This projection offers the prospect of increased jobs, greater prosperity, reduced hunger and improved opportunities for African farmers and entrepreneurs to participate in the global economy. 

Over the last three years, Africa’s growing online audience has seen an increase in international brands setting up shop to tap into the growing middle-income segment. Direct investment from players such as KFC, McDonalds, Burger King have been achieved. Online food delivery players such as Jumia have also played a key role in shaping supply chains and opening up the markets to new entrants. Local producers and restaurants have embraced this evolution and reached new consumers as well as grown their businesses in spite of these challenging times.

“This pandemic crisis has shown the world that online food delivery is not just a commodity, but a necessity. The food business adapted quickly to the new normal, by availing contactless and cashless deliveries » said Shreenal Ruparelia Chief Commercial Officer, Jumia Food. « We also started to provide support to local food vendors to keep their businesses running during this difficult time.” With our food partners, we will continue to deploy capabilities across the food value chain to ensure consumers buy food online safely and at the right price, in line with the theme of this year’s World Food Day celebration of Grow, Nourish, Sustain Together” added Shreenal.

The report highlighted two major drivers of the growth observed in 2020: demography and the Covid19 lockdowns. With a growing population averaging 18 years old, a new generation of African middle class consumers are spending more money online on food and grocery services, while the lockdowns induced by the Covid19 pandemic also contributed to this evolution in habits.

Overall, grocery retailing continues to expand, as consumers seek comfort and convenience when shopping for food. The report shows that while Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) are popular, Lagos and Nairobi lead as the largest cities with the volume of online food orders. 

Also Read Derbora Nyarkoah: A Ghanian Agripreneur Championing Orange Fleshed Sweet Potatoes

International institutions like the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), International Quick Service Restaurants such as KFC and local brands like Tunisian Al Jazeera Olive Oils have contributed to the Africa Food Index, based on Jumia data and external data from different institutions.

Please find the report here

Source: Jumia Food

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Egyptian FinTech Startup NowPay Scores $2.1 million Seed Investment

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NowPay Team (Image Source: NowPay)

Employee Empowerment To Fund Top Priority Financial Goals Augments Increased Productivity, Engagement and Loyalty

MENA: Cairo-based FinTech startup NowPay, a financial-wellness platform for employees in emerging markets, has announced today, 11 October 2020 that the company has raised US$ 2.1 million in seed investment. The new fund will be deployed to deepen the capabilities of the platform, expand its team and establish its footprint in the MENA region and beyond.

The round was led by Foundation Ventures and Endure Capital along with investors from the U.S., UAE, China, and Egypt. The cluster of investors include: BECO Capital, 500 Startups, Plug and Play, 4dx Ventures, MSA Capital, EFG-EV Fintech and Ebtikar. Prominent Angel investors such as Quirky Ventures, Gehan Fathi, and Rolaco also participated in the round.

“During the peak of COVID-19 lockdowns, we are proud to have well-known and eminent investors back us, signaling trust in our business concept and our team. Saving, spending, budgeting and borrowing, are our four pillars of financial wellness. Financial stress plays a major role as a top distraction for employees.

NowPay bridges that gap and provides several benefits for employers that choose to proactively address this area of employee wellness. Particularly in the recent months NowPay helped empower both the employees and employers alike. We want to improve every financial aspect for employees and make financial inclusion a reality,” said Mostafa Ashour, Cofounder and CEO of NowPay who previously led the innovation teams at Microsoft Research.

Founded in 2019, NowPay has a very enthusiastic and well-experienced team. Led by Mostafa Ashour, the team includes co-founder Ahmed Sabry, who worked for Amazon Lending, Gehan Fathi, previously worked as managing director at EFG, and Mahmoud ElHosseiny who managed Egypt sales for Fortune 500 Stanley-Black & Decker.

Also Read: How This EdTech CEO is Helping Africans Access Premium Tech Skills for the Future of Work

“There is an asymmetry between expenses and income, which puts a lot of stress on employee’s morale, and hampers productivity. We are thrilled to join NowPay’s incredible team on this journey of empowering employees with the happiness and wellness that financial stability provides,” said Ziyad Hamdy, Managing Partner at Foundation Ventures.

“Not every day you have both clear product market fit and founders market fit. This is the case in NowPay. Just attend any business meeting with the team and you will know it immediately!”, said Tarek Fahim, Managing Partner at Endure Capital.

“Within a very short period we are delighted to have managed salaries in excess of US$100 million with a 60% month-over-month growth rate. We have integrated our platorm with leading Egyptian and multinational names such as SODIC, Wadi Degla, Domty and AXA to name a few, a testament of our ability to help the financial wellness of employees for our clients. We have a very strong pipeline with many more big names waiting to onboard our platform and we look forward to forge ahead as pioneers in this space,” added Mr. Ashour.

Source: NowPay

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Press Release

SAVCA Appoints Natalie Kolbe And Sthembile NKabinde As Board Members

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Sthembile Nkabinde and Natalie Kolbe

The Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (SAVCA) – the industry body for private equity and venture capital in Southern Africa –welcomes two new directors to its board, following the virtual SAVCA Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on 7 October 2020.

SAVCA CEO, Tanya van Lill says that the new appointees – Natalie Kolbe, Partner at Actis and Sthembile Nkabinde, Founder and CEO of Khulasande Capital – are both leading industry professionals who have been elected by their peers to continue driving the association’s strategic objectives.

Natalie Kolbe, Partner at Actis
Sthembile Nkabinde, Founder and CEO of Khulasande Capital

“Natalie and Sthembile each bring with them a unique skill set that will complement those of our existing board members, while bringing new perspectives and ideas to the table. Notably, the new board composition of seven women and six men are representative of the advances being made by the broader industry within the area of transformation and diversity.”

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As noted by the recent SAVCA 2020 Private Equity Industry Survey, South African private equity exhibited a considerable increase in investment activity in 2019, with the private equity industry having R184.4 billion in funds under management (FUM) at 31 December 2019, up from R171 billion in 2018, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.2% since 1999 when the survey first began.

Similarly, the SAVCA 2020 Venture Capital Industry Survey reported robust industry growth in 2019, with venture capital investment showing the highest activity recorded to date, both by value and by number of deals. A total of 38 exits were also reported for 2019 – more than double the previous record for annual exit activity, and just over triple the nine exits reported in 2018.

“This industry growth bodes well for the future economic growth of the region, especially considering the long-term effect that COVID-19 is having on economic activity,” says van Lill, who notes the important role that the industry plays in Southern Africa’s broader economic environment. “A thriving private equity and venture capital industry is crucial for Southern Africa to accelerate its economic recovery.”

Returning to the outcomes of the recent AGM, van Lill says that the SAVCA board is sadly bidding farewell to three distinguished directors: Lungile Mdluli, who served as Treasurer and Chairperson of the Fiscal Committee from 2017 and was asked to stay on for another year to hand over the role of Treasurer; Vusi Thembekwayo, who joined the SAVCA Board in 2017 and served on the Venture Capital Committee; and Craig Dreyer, who has served SAVCA since its inception in 1998 and notably chaired the association over the past three years.

“Through their varied and distinguished roles, Lungile, Vusi and Craig contributed significantly to the success of our organisation by dedicating an invaluable amount of time and expertise to the board activities. While Craig’s longstanding commitment to the industry and relentless contribution as Chairperson and member of the Regulatory Committee will be missed, we are fortunate for the legacy he leaves behind and want to thank all three members for the roles they’ve played in shaping the future of the industry,” van Lill concludes.

Source: SAVCA

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