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Renew Capital’s East Africa Investment Survey Results

By Raisa Chowdhury | Wed Oct 05 2022
At Renew Capital, we believe that Africa's economic potential hinges on its ability to develop and expand its small and medium enterprises (SMEs), especially as it rolls out its African Continental Free Trade Area. In an effort to confirm gaps and needs for entrepreneurs, Renew Capital launched an  East Africa Investment Survey recently. The responses from more than 300 companies across the region confirmed that Renew Capital’s gender-smart ecosystem-building work remains crucial and is helping us further refine our capacity building efforts. 
The top three findings from the survey are:
  • Women-owned Company Growth Lags Behind - The survey showed that female entrepreneurs continued to lag behind their male counterparts in building high revenue companies. Male-owned companies in the sample were able to hire more employees and began experiencing higher revenues at an earlier phase. While majority female-owned companies appeared to catch up as they grew, they fell behind in revenue again by the time they reached maturity. 
  • Companies are Missing Regional Trade Opportunities Approximately half of the companies in the sample have yet to take advantage of the broader regional market through cross-border trade. In addition, SMEs reported difficulty accessing capital and consistently reported access to markets as one of the most significant barriers to growth. Infrastructure issues and skilled management were also frequently reported as primary barriers to growth. 
  • No Surprise, Entrepreneurs are Optimistic Despite these barriers, entrepreneurs remained optimistic about the economic outlook. Most companies expressed a basic level of security about economic prospects within their countries as well as across the region. Even politically, few companies predicted that the economic situation in their country or region would deteriorate.
Survey respondents were asked questions along six dimensions: Access to Capital; Growth and Trade; Gender Equality; Climate/Environmental Sustainability; Management Capacity; and Outlook on the Future. Respondents include 323 unique companies that have headquarters in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The full results are available here.
“Surveys like this are integral to Renew Capital’s decade-long effort to refine our management capacity building offerings, support ecosystems and grow the missing middle of the African economies,” said Renew Capital Managing Partner Laura Davis. 
This blog post and the August 2022 East Africa Investment Survey report were authored by Raisa Chowdhury, senior consultant and monitoring and evaluation lead. 
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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