marindame kombate

ANDE Goes to Nairobi (and E+Co Was There!)

As Diana Hollmann reported yesterday, the maiden investment management training organized by Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) in Nairobi in the first week of March 2010, gathered at least 15 participants from four continents and nine countries. This was an incredible platform which afforded participants from organizations like E+Co the opportunity to share their experiences. Other ANDE members, including Acumen Fund, Root Capital, and SNV also attended.

The training was spiced up by a cocktail jointly organized by ANDE and the Rockefeller Foundation on March 2, 2010 which gave many fund managers, impact investors, investment officers and representatives of SME-support institutions one of the finest opportunities to network and exchange ideas for future cooperation.

As a public purpose organization, E+Co should forever be proud to be one of the founding members of this network that seeks to reengineer development finance in the emerging countries. In fact, I was humbled by a statement made by one of the presenters who presented a hydro deal to E+Co in Tanzania (details withheld). He said: “If you want to do anything that is related to renewable energy or more specifically hydro, talk to Kombate from E+Co.”

Randall Kempner, Executive Director of ANDE, opened the training program stating that 58% of investment funds in the world have focused on Africa, and that the number of newly launched investment funds focused on emerging markets is trending upward. This was buttressed by the presence of a representative from Serengeti Advisers, a Tanzanian-based financial investment firm.

The natural result of this trend is increased competition among funds investing in the same sectors – thereby increasing their efficiencies. E+Co has a first mover advantage in the markets it is currently serving, but there is the likelihood that E+Co comes head-to-head with new entrants in future. This serves as a wake-up call for E+Co to remain solidly grounded as we move forward.

The topics we covered during the training included Deal Sourcing, Due Diligence, Investment Evaluation, Transaction Structuring, Ongoing Monitoring and Evaluation, SME Lending and Business Development Assistance (also called Enterprise Development Services). There is no doubt that the above topics were very pertinent to my work. There were also case studies for each of the sessions; notable among them was the E+Co investment case study, Anning Investment which was disguised as Super Saver Stove Factory.

There is one issue that ran through most of the case studies – corporate governance. For instance, in the case of Anning Juhong Stove Factory it was recommended that a qualified accountant be recruited to ensure that proper records are kept. It was also suggested that a proper succession plan be put in place to eliminate founder’s syndrome. Most of the issues did not appear strange but in our day-to-day work, we tend to trivialize them. Confucius’s saying that “I hear, I forget; I see, I remember; I do, I understand” perfectly depicted the case studies’ scenario. The general feeling was that the case studies were representatives of what the participants are facing on the field and would reorient their approach in dealing with similar cases in future.

It must be said that it was a unique learning opportunity with very competent and knowledgeable facilitators and participants. The participants did not hide their joy to have been part of the training. In this regard, Niraj Varia of ARK (Absolute Returns for Kids) had the following to say: “I came into this knowing nothing, and now I know a little more, but, crucially, I know all of you who know so much more”. When signing in the participants’ book, I captured my feelings as follows: “I am leaving Nairobi better than I came and would want to thank ANDE and the organizing team for a job well done….” Indeed, there was value for every dollar and minute spent!

business development