TEF Director of Operations, Ifeoma Okafor-Obi with Tewa Onasanya, Founder ELOY awards (Pic: TEF)
Every morning Mama Bisi sets out – her stool on her head, her beans paste, oil and other paraphernalia in a bucket, held in her right hand – to the junction by 5.45 am.
By 6.30 am, passers-by and her loyal customers line up to buy her fresh akara while you and I send someone from the comfort of our homes to do the same.
Occasionally she hears the magic words – “Oya keep the change” and she is extremely glad. A smile rends her face ear to ear and you wonder…
You see, that N50 or N100 tip means more groundnut oil to fry akara, the occasional N200 windfall, an additional cup of beans – both direct investment into her business. Mama Bisi is frugal, there are no excesses around her except when once in a while, she gives in to her mothering instincts and buys sweets for her children. But when it comes to herself, she is extremely austere.
Mama Bisi did not go to school but she is more financially savvy than some business school graduates. She knows the costs of all her raw materials. Even N50 makes a difference, it is salt for two weeks of her business. She longs to raise money to buy a full bag at N25,000 and reduce the cost of the cups of beans for her business.
She is a route-to-market, consumer segmentation and customer service expert. She knows the locations to sit at different times of the day to maximise sales. She also changes her product offerings from akara to buns and then to puff puff as each day progresses.
She is a marketing expert. You can hear her voice early in the morning calling out in her local dialect that “if you taste better akara or puff puff anywhere, you should return her wares for a full refund”. There have been no refunds till date.
She is a branding expert. She wears her white Apron and tells you that it is to show her customers she is clean, and her wares are prepared under hygienic conditions.
From the proceeds of her enterprise, she contributes meaningfully to her family, ensuring her children are educated, well-fed and well-dressed to the best of her ability. This is because Mama Bisi is a strong female entrepreneur.
For a lot of women, motherhood and entrepreneurship are blurred lines- everything they get goes into the business and every profit or loss impacts their families.
According to the world bank female labour force participation in developing countries index 2014, as more women enter the labour force, economies can grow faster in response to higher labour inputs. At the same time, as countries develop, women’s capabilities typically improve, while social constraints weaken, enabling women to engage in work outside the home.
How then do we ensure that the work that they engage in is meaningful? How do we give Mama Bisi access to financing to expand her enterprise? To move from roadside selling to dry or wet premixed packages to expand her market and customer base? How do we help her uplift her family through entrepreneurship? What innovative models can we use to reach her and remove finance as one of the major deterrents to entrepreneurial activities, industrial transformation and private sector development especially for women? What trainings do we have to leverage her financial savviness, help her with the right staffing and corporate governance? How can she access external partners to move from a small-scale business to a global brand, leveraging her unique recipe? How can she build a trusted network in the right sectors in the shortest possible time? How do we enable her to be the catalyst to harnessing Africa’s strengths – its youthful population and fertile land.
Bearing in that Africa needs 12 to 15 million jobs annually to reduce poverty.
The TEF Model
The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is a 10-year commitment to select, train, mentor, provide seed capital and access to a supportive network to 10,000 entrepreneurs to create 1million jobs in 10 years and generate 10 billion Revenue growth across the African continent.
In 5years we have almost reached our original goal. Partially through our partnerships because our model has been proven to be successful and sustainable.
We are piloting a program to reach even more people with our UNDP partnership. We plan to train at least 10,000 each year.
What makes it successful is that we achieve in 1 year, things that take programs like the apprenticeship program 5 to 8 years to achieve.
TEF Democratises luck. The impact of our flagship programme is so far-reaching because we are gender and Sector agnostic and we chose thousands from across Africa. In the past 5 years, we have had targeted communication for women and almost doubled the volume of female participation in our programme from 24% in 2015 to 41.6% in 2019.
After a 12-week intensive training with emphasis on finance, scaling, structure and transparency, due diligence and mentorship, these women get seed capital. As part of our Alumni network, they also get ongoing mentorship and value-add exposure to enable them to scale their businesses and to access 2nd stage funding.
However, more interventions are needed to enable women excel. We need:
- Mass education for women on financing options available across the business lifecycle. Females by default have a scarcity mindset and want to create miracles out of nothing. They need to know it is ok to ask for more to deliver more.
- We need a female lens into the route to market for reducing the number of unbanked and financing female-owned SMEs through technology. Bearing in mind that ladies like Mama Bisi will never buy a smart phone unless her family is very comfortable.
- Increased access to seed capital
- Access to creative financing for special sectors e.g. creative and tourism industries in which women excel.
- Leveraging technology for global scale –This is what we are working to achieve at the foundation with our technologically driven Digital platform TEFConnect. We can create local communities showcasing female entrepreneurs in various endeavors to access global markets. Already we have connected a significant number of businesses across Africa. TEFConnect is our gamechanger.
- We need to emphasize the need for governance and transparency within businesses. That is key to being able to attract external funding. With increased transparency and verifiable records, the financing will come, and more meaningful jobs will be created.
If this is done, then one day, Mama Bisi will proudly be illustrated on the covers of a premixed akara package bearing her name, in a store in London.
TuneCore Launches Operations in Africa, Appoints Two Female Regional Executives
TuneCore Jade Leaf and Chioma Onuchukwu
TuneCore, the leading digital music distribution and publishing administration company for independent artists, has launched operations in Africa. Jade Leaf has been hired as Head of TuneCore for Southern Africa and will share responsibility for key countries in East Africa with Chioma Onuchukwu, who has been hired as Head of TuneCore for West Africa. Both Leaf and Onuchukwu will report to Faryal Khan-Thompson, Vice President, International, TuneCore.
Onuchukwu will be based in Nigeria and oversee countries in West Africa including Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. She will also look after Tanzania and Ethiopia in East Africa. Leaf’s territory encompasses Southern Africa, including South Africa, where she will be based, as well as Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Lesotho. Leaf will also manage TuneCore operations in East African countries Kenya and Uganda.
Said Onuchukwu, “I am elated to be joining a renowned, independent music distribution powerhouse, especially in an incredible era for music creators in Africa at a time when we are gaining global recognition and increasing momentum. I look forward to collaborating with and supporting local artists.”
Before joining TuneCore, Onuchukwu was Marketing Manager at uduX Music, a music streaming platform in Nigeria. There she worked directly with popular African artists such as Davido, Yemi Alade, Patoranking, Kizz Daniel and more.
Commented Leaf, “I am incredibly excited to join the team in a time where the global conversation is around independence and ownership. TuneCore opens up a world of potential for independent artists at every level of their careers. Africa is home to a diverse range of artists who are seeking a reliable distribution service who understands their local needs and can ultimately give them the opportunity to turn their art into commercial success.”
Previously, Leaf worked at Africa’s largest Pay TV operator, Multichoice as the Marketing Manager for Youth & Music Channels, where she led brand re-imaging and marketing efforts for Music TV giant Channel O. Before that, she worked at Sony Music Entertainment Africa, focusing on African artists and content, as well as numerous marketing campaigns & projects for local and international artists.
There has been a meteoric rise in the uptake of streaming services in Africa, the growth has been attributed to several factors such as an increase in internet penetration via smartphones, the entrance of international and local streaming platforms in key territories and its youth population – More than 60% of African’s are under the age of 25.
In 2020, TuneCore saw an increase in music releases globally, with many African artists opting to use the DIY Distributor – DJ Spinall and Small Doctor in Nigeria, Spoegwolf in South Africa, Mpho Sebina in Botswana and Fena Gitu in Kenya to name a few.
Stated Khan-Thompson, “Africa is an extremely exciting music market with a lot of potential for growth. By hiring Jade and Chioma to lead our efforts, TuneCore is well positioned to maximize opportunities for independent artists across the continent. Both Chioma and Jade bring a wealth of experience and genuine interest in helping artists make their dreams come true. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have two incredible women representing the TuneCore brand in the continent”
IFC Invest in Liquid Telecom Bond to Support Broadband Connectivity in Africa
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, invested in Thursday’s bond issued by a subsidiary of Liquid Telecommunications Holdings Ltd., which will allow the telecoms and technology solutions company to expand access to broadband Internet and digital and cloud services across Africa, further facilitating the growth of the continent’s digital economy.
Proceeds from the bond issued by Liquid Telecommunications Financing PLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Liquid Telecommunications Holdings Ltd, will enable the company to refinance existing debt and free up funds to expand its digital infrastructure network across Africa, including in markets with low broadband penetration.
By developing digital infrastructure, Liquid Telecommunications, Africa’s largest independent fiber, data center and cloud technology provider, aims to increase digital connectivity and inclusion in Africa and support the region’s growing digital ecosystem.
IFC played an anchor role and subscribed to 16 percent of the bond, equivalent to $100 million, which was listed on Euronext Dublin, Ireland’s main stock exchange, on February 25, 2021. The issuance raised $620 million.
Internet access in Africa relies largely on mobile networks, many of which are enabled by wholesale connectivity providers such as Liquid Telecommunications. Broadband penetration is low across the continent, with a mobile broadband penetration rate of 34 percent and fixed broadband penetration of less than five percent in most countries across sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa.
“We are delighted that IFC has taken a significant anchor position in our new bond. In the countries in which we operate there are great opportunities to address under developed telecommunications and Internet access, as well as to accelerate the adoption of digital and Cloud-based services. Our refinance enables us to continue to invest in the African digital eco-system including driving penetration of digital and Cloud-based services to businesses who may not previously have had the resources to benefit from them, helping to bridge the connectivity divide, which is more crucial than ever in our current circumstances,” said Nic Rudnick, Liquid Telecom Group Chief Executive Officer.
“Our best chance at ensuring much-needed internet access for everyone in Africa, from large corporates and small businesses to individuals, is to invest in digital infrastructure. Our investment in the Liquid Telecom bond will help the company free up capital to further expand broadband access across Africa, laying a solid foundation for a faster, more resilient recovery,” said Stephanie von Friedeburg, Interim Managing Director and Executive Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer of IFC.
To support Africa’s digital economy, which could be worth $180 billion by 2025, IFC provides financing to mobile network operators, independent tower operators, data centers and broadband connectivity providers. IFC also provides capital to help entrepreneurs and innovative businesses grow and works with financial institutions and telecommunications companies to speed the adoption of digital payments and lending to expand financial inclusion.
Diaspora investments: A must for the development of Africa
Image Source: rupixen.com
It has been three years since his Excellency president Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana shared some controversial thoughts on Africa’s dependence on aid or support from Europe in a decades long effort to develop the continent.
He was applauded for his bold statement and stance, but many (especially people from the Ghanaian diaspora) thought they were only words. Words they had heard many times before, but without plans or actions backing them. This might be true from their perspective, yet for the current generation of descendants from those who have been sold into slavery, it was good to hear an African leader show some backbone.
“We can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves, in our country, in our region, in our continent based on whatever support that the western world or France, or the European Union can give us. It will not work. It has not worked, and it will not work”.
The Diaspora Is Linked To The Strength of Africa
President Nana Akufo-Addo’s views on European aid are commendable, even if we debate how much he will be able to back up his words with actions.
“The place of the Diaspora, the status of the people in the diaspora, of the African diaspora, is intimately linked with what happens on the continent. An Africa strong and performing, transforms your position, your status here in Europe”.
He was addressing diaspora members in France, but he could have been addressing all people of African descent worldwide. The fact is that his ability to back his words, not exclusively but to an important extent, is contingent on the support he as an African leader receives from the African diaspora.
Remittance Coming From The African Diaspora
As a member from the African diaspora, one might ask: “Are we not supporting enough?”
Ishmeal Lamptey (Source: unsplash.com)
According to the World Bank Sub Saharan Africa received an estimated 48 billion US dollars in remittance funds from the African diaspora in 2019.
A study by Comstock, Iannone, Bhatia published in March 2009 (yes, the phenomenon has been studied for some time now) shows most funds are spend on costs of sustenance (29%), medical costs (16%) and education (12%).
When looking at the order of precedence these costs take in relation to each other, we see that unforeseen costs come first, second are medical costs and the last are for education. This underlines what we all know. The fact that there is often a sense of emergency to these transfers.
The Need To Move From Remittance To Investment In Africa
So, to answer the question of the diaspora, if it is not doing enough…well no. Harsh isn’t it? The fact of the matter is that the remittance funds are our own version of aid to the continent. It is keeping our people our family from dying but it’s not helping with any development.
We, the African diaspora, need to make the transition from remittance to investment. Remittance will always be part of the financial flows, but when seen in relation with Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from the diaspora, they shouldn’t dominate as they do at present.
Following the content of a few independent journalists, there is now ample proof that at least some in the diaspora are not only willing, but able to move to the continent and start new businesses. But this group is a very small minority. The vast majority will not be able to follow suit and we should not want them to.
The revenues of the use of their human capital is needed to generate the investment flows Africa needs. The challenge Sub Saharan Africa faces is that of aggregation of available funds originating from the diaspora. The funds are clearly there, the industries which need them for we’ve identified, but now we need to create a robust infrastructure to aggregate and get them to their destination.
Like we pointed out in our previous article about thinking sufficiently big; while we keep our eyes on the end goal, we might need to start building one stone at a time. From individual projects, to industries, to the whole economy.
When doing so, we need to keep in mind that Africa is a unique environment. The common instruments of capital allocation used in the world should certainly be our starting point, but not limit our imagination when pooling the diaspora funds and channeling them into the continent.
As we have admonished a few times now; Africa should think BIG. And that also applies to its diaspora. In the coming articles we will continue exploring the idea of “thinking big” in the African context. So please make sure to subscribe to our Newsletter. We invite you to share your thoughts with us on the matter and get a discussion going with us and our other readers.
Article By: Jerrol Cambiel, Chief Executive EU Operations Debnoch Capital