The annual EEP Africa Knowledge Week attracted almost 400 attendees during the three sessions throughout 14-16 March 2023, which shows high interest towards this annual event.
EEP Africa Knowledge Week kicked off by Demystifying Investor Readiness. The session began with a presentation by Remy Olsen, Senior Partner Lead, and Nick Nderi, Associate, from Open Capital, who serve as Business Development Experts on the EEP Africa Team. They gave a thorough insight on what investor readiness means, why it is important for businesses, and what the key factors are that investors are looking for. As the need for financing is different depending on the growth stage of your business, the key is to find the right investor to fulfil your investment needs.
There is a myriad of factors that differentiate investors’ search and focus. Four experts who work with early-stage businesses in the clean energy access space shared their respective organisation’s views on the subsequent panel discussion, which was moderated by EEP Africa Head of Portfolio Susanne Hounsell. The panellists Arivazhagan G D, Partner from SIMA Funds; Sam Grant, Senior Director, Clean Energy Access from Clasp; Chris Würdemann, Head of Advisory for Mirova SunFunder; and Ruth Wairimu, Senior Investment Associate from Acumen elaborated further how they as investors do not just provide money but also support the companies during the process. Some companies might not have a clear picture of what instruments are optimal for different investment needs, what policies and governance structures needs to be in place, or how to monitor targets. All panellists pointed out that the relationship between investor and investee is a long-term partnership which is built on trust.
Susanne Hounsell, EEP Africa (moderator); Remy Olsen, Open Capital; Nick Nderi, Open Capital; Arivazhagan G D , SIMA Funds; Sam Grant, Clasp; Chris Würdemann, Head of Advisory, Mirova SunFunder; Ruth Wairimu, Senior Investment Associate, Acumen.
During the session, the EEP Africa Project of the Year 2022 awardees were announced. The Project of the Year award recognises outstanding achievement and innovation by an EEP Africa portfolio company during the past year. As in 2021, the award was split into two categories – Scale Up and Start Up – to recognise both companies that are growing and on their way to broader impact as well as companies that are still at an early stage but succeeding in innovating or opening the market. Mobility for Africa was awarded as the Project of the Year 2022 for Scale Up category and Millennium Engineers was awarded as the Project of the Year 2022 for Start Up category.
Welcoming the two Project of the Year winners Shantha Bloemen, Managing Director of Mobility for Africa, and Diana Mbogo, Managing Director of Millennium Engineers into the discussion, the panel finished by discussing how to support women entrepreneurs throughout their investment process. The deficit of funding for female entrepreneurs was acknowledged and the investors were keen on giving hands-on support to help the entrepreneurs succeed in their businesses. As more and more investors are asking for gender balance and gender targets, it accelerates the transition towards a funding environment that supports women businesses to grow.