Thierno-Habib Hann has assumed the position of the new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nairobi-based Pan-African housing development financier Shelter Afrique following his appointment in August last year.
Mr Hann joins Shelter Afrique from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), where he served as the Asia/Pacific Lead for housing finance, based in Bangkok, Thailand.
He takes over from Mr Kingsley Muwowo, who has been serving in an acting capacity following the change in management last year.
Mr Hann has extensive international experience in housing finance, capital markets/investment banking and structured finance spanning over 20 years. He brings a wealth of leadership experience in development and investment, sharp insight into the real estate landscape and a strong track record of delivery.
He is expected to strengthen governance, be an embodiment of the organisation’s values and drive the investment strategy of the Company focused on delivering large-scale affordable housing.
Speaking on his appointment, Mr Hann expressed his gratitude and appreciation, “I’m happy and honoured to take on the new role at Shelter Afrique; I would like to extend my appreciation to the Shareholders and the Board of Directors for their confidence in me. I would like to thank the staff, partners and stakeholders for their warm welcome and their commitment to the mandate of Shelter-Afrique. I am also grateful to my former colleagues at the IFC and World Bank. The institution and title may have changed, but I believe we all share a joint commitment and goal of developing our world and I look forward to collaborating with them. I would especially like to thank Mr Kingsley Muwowo for the role he has played in the transition and for his personal and professional support; his service to the Company as CFO and eventually as Acting CEO has been invaluable to the Company.
Mr Hann continued on the significance of Shelter-Afrique and affordable housing on the continent, “Housing is critical to the development of any nation, and Shelter-Afrique’s mandate is both unique and important, particularly as many African countries face a significant turning point in their housing agenda. We want to be part of this turning point. It is an honour to lead this team, and together, we will work towards harnessing national resources to improve local populations’ living conditions and to achieve Shelter Afrique’s mandate,”
Mr Hann began his career at the consulting firm Arthur Andersen, LLC as a Senior Consultant in Financial Services and Capital Markets in New York City. He has worked at JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs as Manager and Vice President, respectively and led investment teams issuing mortgage-backed securities (RMBS/CMO) and credit derivatives (CDS) in these organisations.
He also served at the World Bank Group as the Private Sector Development Program Manager in Guinea, responsible for designing and implementing the business climate improvement program while developing a bankable pipeline of investments and government advisory projects in strategic sectors of the economy.
Thierno-Habib Hann holds an MBA in Finance & Investments from the Zicklin School of Business, Bernard Baruch, City University of New York; a master’s degree in Accounting and Finance (M.S.T.C.F) and a bachelor’s degree in Management and Applied Economics (GEA), from Paris IX Dauphine University, with honours.
A native of Guinea (Conakry), Habib is the co-founder of “AngelAfrica” – a Pan-African thinktank formed to achieve economic prosperity on the continent by building and fostering innovative technological ideas, investors and business partnerships.
Speaking on his plans for Shelter Afrique, the new Managing Director emphasised his focus on growing the portfolio with quality assets, generating impact for stakeholders, and ensuring shoring up the organisation’s capital base. “My immediate focus will be to optimise the organisation’s performance and ensure we deliver on our mandate. To do this, in the immediate term, management is committed to strengthening the brand and corporate governance, ensuring financial sustainability with a strong execution capability, strengthening risk management framework as well as deepening capacity within the organisation and advocating for innovative solutions in the delivery of affordable housing.
“I also plan to embark on broad stakeholder engagement to understand other ways to address our mandate; we welcome the views of our shareholders and partners as the task of delivering affordable housing is a shared one, and no single organisation can address the growing housing crisis alone”.
Thierno-Habib Hann also commented on the current organisation renewal and corporate governance, “We are very pleased that as part of our renewal, our Board has nominated two women to lead as Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson for the first time in our history. We look forward to their stewardship and vision for the organisation”.
African Guarantee Fund and Clean Cooking Alliance challenge Africa’s Banking Industry to invest in Carbon Markets
The African Guarantee Fund (AGF) and the Clean Cooking Alliance, in partnership with the U.N. Capital Development Fund, have joined forces to empower Africa’s banking industry with knowledge and insights necessary to navigate carbon markets effectively.
Under the Partnership Platform for Clean Cooking Finance, the three institutions hosted over 100 Senior Bankers in Kenya for a “Banking on Carbon Markets” workshop that focused on financing clean cooking projects. Carbon finance business models, the intricacies of financing clean cooking projects and their associated risk-return profiles, were some of the topics discussed. Industry leaders and investors shared global evidence and practical experiences in underwriting risks related to lending to clean cooking carbon projects.
The workshop comes close on the heels of the Africa Climate Summit that brought together global key players in Nairobi. António Guterres, the UN secretary general, told the conference. “Africa is home to 60 per cent of the world’s best solar resources — but only two per cent of global investments in renewable energy over the last two decades. Now is the time to bring together African countries with developed countries, financial institutions and technology companies to create a true African Renewable Energy Alliance.”
The spotlight on green and sustainable finance primarily centers on mitigating climate risk, but the untapped potential for banks to maximize opportunities through climate action is often underestimated. In the face of mounting pressure from customers, shareholders, investors, and regulators, banks are compelled to align their corporate strategies and lending criteria with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards.
Speaking at the workshop, Mr Patrick Lumumba, AGF Group Director of Capacity Development, emphasized that “Carbon projects have become instrumental in channeling funds across various sectors of the economy, expediting transitions towards a sustainable future. However, banks frequently lack comprehensive data to assess the risks and returns associated with carbon projects. They also lack information about effective market entry strategies, growth-oriented business models, risk management, and prudent portfolio construction practices.”
“Today’s workshop is a clear example of AGF’s capacity development efforts in action to enable the banking sector venture into carbon markets by way of increasing financing of clean cooking projects. Prioritizing this sector directly impacts on several SDGs such as gender equality, good health and wellbeing and indeed climate action.”
Mr. Feisal Hussain, CCA Senior Director of Innovative Finance, noted that “Banks are essential to realizing the full potential of the carbon markets by helping to fill the financing gap needed to initiate and scale up carbon projects. This is crucial to accelerating the clean energy transition and transforming the lives of people who currently do not have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies.”
“The new Partnership Platform for Clean Cooking Finance is key to this endeavor as it brings together several distinctive capabilities: CCA’s convening ability and technical expertise on clean cooking; African Guarantee Fund focus on Africa and de-risking investments, with a commitment to green finance; and UNCDF’s capital mandate for emerging markets,” he added.
VC4A selects 12 growth stage startups for its 2023 Venture Showcase Africa
VC4A, the leading startup platform in emerging markets, is proud to announce the 12 African startups that have been selected to participate in the 2023 VC4A Venture Showcase Africa. This annual flagship program brings together the best and brightest startups from across the continent, giving them the opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors and industry experts with the objective of raising their Seed or Series A funding rounds.
The 12 startups selected for the 2023 Venture Showcase Africa are:
Three ventures from Egypt, which are Rology, an AI-assisted tele-radiology platform that helps deliver accurate radiology reports on time; FreshSource, a B2B agri-supply chain platform that uses data and technology to connect producers to businesses, guarantee fair prices, and minimize food loss; and Pharmacy Marts, a B2B marketplace for pharmacies that provides a one-stop shop for products, financing, and logistics.
Four startups from Nigeria namely; Vendy, which helps businesses accept payments from customers without internet access; Treepz, a car-sharing platform for Africa that aims to reduce CO2 emissions; Winich Farms, an application that connects food producers to informal food processors and retailers in Africa; and OmniRetail, a B2B e-commerce platform offering supplier & retail software, to connect the informal retail ecosystem across Africa.
Three startups from Kenya; Duhqa, a digital supply chain platform that uses AI and automation to help SMEs and manufacturers grow their businesses; MPost, which is a digital platform that turns mobile phone numbers into formal postal addresses, and SympliFi, a blockchain-powered credit-as-a-service platform that provides affordable credit to MSMEs in Africa.
To close the top 12 list, one startup each from Uganda and Senegal; Emata is a digital lending platform on a mission to provide loans to millions of farmers in East Africa and Maad, is an e-commerce marketplace connecting manufacturers and retailers in Francophone Africa.
These high-growth ventures were chosen from a pool of hundreds of applicants, and represent a diverse range of industries and sectors in the Seed and Series A tracks. Each startup will receive mentorship, technical assistance and will have the opportunity to showcase their companies to an audience of investors and industry leaders in the VC4A Deal Room.
“We are thrilled to unveil these exceptional startups for our upcoming VC4A Venture Showcase Africa 2023 program. Each is a beacon of innovation and entrepreneurship. These visionary teams have demonstrated remarkable potential and we eagerly anticipate the transformative journey ahead as we accelerate their growth and shape the future together,” said an excited Abu Cassim, Lead of the Acceleration Team at VC4A.
Goodwell invests in SOUK Farms to scale sustainable agricultural production across Rwanda
Goodwell Investments, an impact investing firm fostering inclusive growth in emerging markets is pleased to announce their investment in SOUK Farms, a leading grower and exporter of fresh horticultural produce from Rwanda. The funding comes through uMunthu II, the impact investor’s 150 EUR million fund focused on scalable, early-growth stage businesses in Africa. The investment provides SOUK Farms with a solid foundation for scaling their sustainable agricultural business in Rwanda, enabling them to create resilient systems and value chains that benefit local farmers and the surrounding community.
Founded in 2019, SOUK Farms has already carved out a significant niche in Rwanda’s agricultural landscape, building its own farming operations as well as working with a wide network of outgrowers to cultivate and export high-quality exotic horticultural produce while also serving consumers in the Rwanda market. They have achieved this with a unique blend of innovation and a steadfast commitment to strengthening the resilience of local farms against climate change and disruptive rainfall patterns.
Partnering with Goodwell gives SOUK Farms the necessary capital to pursue these ambitions at a wider scale. “The opportunities to create sustainable agricultural practices and improve existing ones in Rwanda are great. Our partnership with Goodwell will drive a huge impact not only for the growth of SOUK Farms but also for the farmers and the communities we work as we continue to offer solutions that improve incomes and create employment while also implementing education and outreach programs for youth and women,” said Seun Rasheed, Founder and CEO at SOUK Farms.
SOUK Farms has been a key player in Rwanda’s socioeconomic transformation, and their ability to create a positive impact in the local agricultural supply chain is well established. Working closely with over 1,200 farmers across Rwanda, they have greatly improved livelihoods, enabling farmers to earn upwards of 300% more than they did prior to being outgrowers for SOUK Farms. Currently, 71% of the company’s workforce are women, aligning with the Rwandan government’s national Agriculture policy which promotes gender equality at all levels of the agricultural value chain.
Their impact efforts and solid business model are an ideal fit for Goodwell’s agricultural investment strategy, which strives to improve value chains, reduce post-harvest losses, and create better livelihoods for smallholder farmers.
“Under the experienced leadership of Seun Rasheed, SOUK Farms has a clear vision for expanding their impact and productivity in a sector with ever-increasing demand. We are proud to support the company in this exciting stage of their business growth, and look forward to seeing how they continue to innovate in the agricultural space. With this investment, we are also pleased to mark our entry into the Rwandan market, further expanding Goodwell’s presence in East Africa,” said Judith Ngonyo, Investment Manager at Goodwell Investments.
This investment comes at a crucial time, enabling SOUK Farms to build on its success, scale operations, and increase the productivity of Rwandan farmers. It also reinforces Goodwell’s commitment to supporting companies that improve livelihoods and deliver affordable, accessible, high-quality goods and services to underserved populations.