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2019 in Review and a Sneak Peek at 2020!

By Erin O'connor | Wed Jan 08 2020
As we start off the new year and decade, it’s one of our traditions at RENEW to look back at the last 12 months and ahead to the next. February 2020 will mark eight years RENEW and the IAN have been in Ethiopia. Before we arrived, there was one PE firm, now there are over a dozen. RENEW’s Impact Angel Network is the most active SME investment group in Ethiopia, and we have already achieved two exits! Before the IAN, most of the private sector had no option for financing. Unless you had a micro-enterprise or a huge company, there was nowhere to get $500K. Now, friends advise entrepreneurial friends to speak with RENEW's angel network or pitch on Chigign 'Tobiya, the investment TV show RENEW helped launch. The work is not just happening in Ethiopia and Uganda, but it's happening around the world with the Impact Angel Network. Here are some of the highlights for RENEW in 2019.
- We started the year with our annual partners planning session in Colorado. We also held an Econ-Tourism Trip that took place in Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda!
- We held our third round of the CFO100 and The Exec’s Program. We also funded a second investment in Roadrunner Technology Solutions LLC (Roadrunner), which partners with Universal Courier Services PLC (Deliver Addis) to expand the burgeoning logistics and e-commerce industries in Ethiopia.
- We celebrated International Women’s Day with an Ode to Africa’s Businesswomen and started making plans for an investment vehicle focused on women.
- RENEW and the Impact Angel Network committed capital to a fund dedicated to investing in women-owned and led companies in Ethiopia and Uganda. RENEW and the IAN designed the fund to address a pressing need to close the financing gap for women-owned companies in Sub-Saharan Africa. We also visited our partners, Global Affairs Canada, in Ottawa, Canada.
- This was a big month at RENEW! We successfully exited two investments to a regional private equity fund and a family office. RENEW and the IAN provided two rounds of angel financing to support the launch of an Ethiopian production company that exports to international markets. We also held our fourth International Gathering weekend in Washington D.C., and we released our Fourth Annual Impact Report.
- We attended the 5th Annual Private Equity in East Africa Conference (hosted by EAVCA) and participated on the "Investing in Women is a Good Idea" panel discussion.
- We made our first investment in Uganda from the Women-Owned Business Investment Fund. The fund was set up to invest in female entrepreneurs in Ethiopia and Uganda, and the first company to receive an investment was Kijani Baby (Kijani).
- We closed our second investment from the Women-Owned Business Investment Fund. This investment was made into a company that supports tourism in Ethiopia, which partners with Travel Ethiopia PLC (Travel Ethiopia).
- We visited with our IAN Chapter in Virginia and spent some quality time with some IAN members and investors. The partners also visited London and the Netherlands.
- RENEW had the pleasure of hosting a panel discussion in partnership with the Aspen Network for Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), TrustLaw (Thomson Reuters Foundation) and Global Affairs Canada on the changes that are coming to the legal and regulatory framework for investing in Ethiopia. We also launched our fourth cohort of The Exec’s Program and CFO100, and we had several members of the Impact Angel Network visit us in Ethiopia.
- We attended the Global Gender Summit in Kigali along with 20+ female entrepreneur delegates from Ethiopia who had won the Invest2Impact Challenge. What an inspirational time and an encouragement to double-down on our strategy to build gender-balanced, gender smart management teams!
- We announced an important strategic shift in our investment strategy to the Impact Angel Network. Look for more background on this in 2020, but here are the broad strokes of it. Going forward, we intend to bring capital, training and skilled management into companies the IAN and RENEW take controlling positions in. With this strategy, we will be able to provide opportunities for existing team members to learn from veteran managers that have successfully led similar companies. Owners of portfolio companies will be freed to focus on their core competencies. A critical piece of this strategy is that RENEW will manage the back-office services for portfolio companies in the areas of finance, accounting, marketing, HR, sales, IT and potentially others to achieve economies of scale. We will also continue to provide training to company managers and will work with them to implement the lessons they learned within the companies we invest in.
Throughout the year, we enjoyed connecting with members of the Impact Angel Network in Ethiopia, Uganda and around the world. As we start this new year and decade, we are grateful to the Government of Canada who makes our work in Ethiopia possible, members of the Impact Angel Network who believe in the potential of businesses to be the engines of prosperity, our team who works tirelessly around the world and the inspirational entrepreneurs leading our companies.
The year and decade ahead look bright. This year will be about implementing the strategy shift we announced in December and providing high-quality professional services as we build businesses into market leaders, adding value to their employees and the markets in which they operate in. Here's to a great 2020.
The Renew Team,
Matthew Davis, Tom Scriven, Laura Davis, Justin Reesor, Erin O’Connor, Emily Ziethen, Prasoon Raghuwanshi, Lulit Negash, Yoseph Getachew, Tsegamlak Solomon, Kirsten Newman, Teddy Fantahun, Dagmawit Shiferaw, Filseta Asrat, Mary Adoi, Tamiru Belayneh
Renew Capital is an Africa-focused impact investment firm that backs innovative companies with high-growth potential. Renew Capital manages investments made on behalf of the Renew Capital Angels, a global network of angel investors, foundations and family offices who seek financial returns and sustainable social impact. For the latest on investing in Africa, subscribe and follow us at our social links below.

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