Diana Hollmann

Notes from ANDE’s First Investment Officer Training in Kenya

“I hear, I forget; I see, I remember; I do, I understand”

This quote by Confucius was written on the back of our name tags and was also the underlying principle at the inaugural Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) investment officer training this March. I would say that hearing about the insights of experienced facilitators provided a great basis to build on. But working through case studies with participants from a variety of ANDE members and affiliated organizations definitely helped to understand and make the transfer of lessons learned to real life cases!

More than thirty participants from four continents gathered in two one-week-long sessions in Nairobi, Kenya, and strengthened their skills in addressing the entire process for investing in Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs) – from deal sourcing and due diligence to term sheets, ongoing business support, and exit strategies.

The location for the training was well-chosen. Randall Kempner, Executive Director of ANDE, explained that 58 percent of SGB funds invest in Africa, Asia taking a far off second place with just 20 percent. That might also be the reason why a second training session had to be added to the original schedule in order to meet the demand. However, if we take a look at the investment map we see that there is still a huge gap between microfinance and emerging market private equity funds (investments of less than 25,000 USD and more than 2 Mio. USD). Out of 106 investment funds surveyed, 32 provide microfinance and 67 focus on large-scale private equity investments, while only a minority of seven target the SGB space.

But there is good news: despite the economic downturn, SGB funds are on the rise. While less than ten new SGB funds were counted annually from 2001 to 2005, the period 2006 – 2009 witnessed a steep increase to more than twenty new funds per year.

As funds increase in number, ANDE now provides invaluable support to strengthen the quality of the services they provide. Like the other participants, I’m more than glad to have attended this first and well received training – and I am sure many more will follow.

For now it is not Karibu (welcome in Swahili) anymore, but Bienvenidos (welcome in Spanish) at the upcoming ANDE Latin America Conference in Nicaragua!

business development