Sara Standish

New Meso-Finance Mechanisms in South Africa

Camps Bay 4In my relentless search to find reasons to move to the fair city of Cape Town (as if biodiversity-friendly winelands, Lion’s Head & the 12 Apostles, and?the World Cup semi-finals in 2010?weren’t enough), I regularly read?South Africa’s Mail & Guardian.? ?I am rarely disappointed and today’s article on specialized “retail development bonds” that provide a mechanism to support small business growth is no exception.? The?piece entitled, “A Friendlier Bang for?Your Buck“, discusses the finance gap that we have talked so much about on NextBillion (Shell Interview, Al Hammond on Mesofinance).? The M & G notes that while SRIs remain strong, there is a need to develop funding for projects under $3 million.? To this end, a law professor at American University is developing a government bond, which, “provides a semi-annual return equal to the government’s retail bond, the underlying funds being used to develop small and micro- enterprise business and low-income housing in South Africa.”? While the product is not available yet, its potential to attract money from a range of investors, including corporations and the South African diaspora makes it an intriguing investment mechanism aimed at developing local entrepreneurial talent and drawing funding to low-income communities, while providing near commercial returns.