Thank you in advance for taking a moment to read about the impact of RENEW’s work in 2019 and RENEW’s model. Though COVID-19 was not on our radar until the very end of last year, it is important to acknowledge that things have changed dramatically around the globe since then.
As I write, we are hopeful that Ethiopia and much of Africa has in some ways been spared from the health crisis, but we are deeply aware that we have not been economically spared. Thankfully, as we look across the landscape at our pipeline, portfolio and the other companies we support with our partner, Global Affairs Canada, we see resilience and innovation. Matt and I decided to stay in East Africa along with our young daughter to weather the storm with our team and companies. It was not an easy decision given that the region’s healthcare infrastructure would likely not be able to handle a sizeable outbreak. But we felt that the economies in East Africa would likely need investors to step in where government stimulus programs do not exist to help support and restart local businesses.
So I write to you from Ethiopia, where we have turned our office into a business continuity “command center”. We are helping companies re-purpose assets, pivot operations, and establish new partnerships with other companies in the IAN’s portfolio and our network. Data is now coming forward that confirms our initial read that developing countries, especially in Africa, will be impacted far worse economically than the developed world due to the global shut down of commerce and trade. And while we are aware that RENEW and the IAN will not prevent this across Africa, or even Ethiopia, we know small investments will go a long way.
Now, to quickly summarize the last year, February 2020 marked eight years that 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 (IAN) 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 in much-needed growth capital. Now, entrepreneurs are advised 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 East Africa, but it’s happening around the world with the Impact Angel Network. As we look backwards and forwards, we stand with the business community and those who are impacted by the economic crisis in East Africa. Together, we will get through this.
Laura Davis and the RENEW Team.
A special thank you to our partner, Global Affairs Canada, for helping us increase the awareness and understanding of private equity investing in Ethiopia, to the members of the Impact Angel Network for believing in the vision and investing with us, to our entrepreneurs and their staff for their hard work and perseverance, to our development partners for their support to make this investment model possible, and to the RENEW team for their hard work on the ground and around the world.
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.