African agribusiness Small and Medium Enterprises seeking to fundraise for their businesses can now go online and have access to a newly launched platform where they can find articulated requirements for accessing the funds.
“The SME Resource Bank, which is now a component of the AgriBusiness Deal Room, is a virtual repository of guiding materials that will help entrepreneurs to better prepare for and optimize their engagements with investors,” said Jennifer Baarns, the Head of Partnerships at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
The Agribusiness Deal Room is a matchmaking online platform under the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), which convenes close to 4,000 stakeholders from the entire eco-system to facilitate partnerships and investments in African agriculture.
“We usually come across entrepreneurs with great ideas, but they are not investor ready,” said Elizabeth Wamai, an Investment Analyst from Exeo Capital – an international investment company in the Sub-Saharan Africa region that regularly engages in the Deal Room.
“It is really frustrating to see great potential opportunities fall through the cracks during the screening process because the entrepreneur did not have critical financial information such as audited accounts, business plan, and financial projections among others required to assess the credibility of the business and maybe its growth potential,” she told a virtual audience during the launch of the SME Resource Bank on 19 February 2021.
According to Dr Debisi Araba, the Managing Director for the AGRF, Africa has the potential to transform its agriculture sector to contribute a healthy percentage of economic growth on the continent. “However, there is a financial deficit in ushering in this reality,” he said.
“We have a deficit of over 100 billion dollars to ensure the flow of capital in the agricultural sector across the continent, and that is what we are trying to mobilise through the SME Resource Bank,” he told online participants during the launch.
“One of the things we want to do at the deal room is to reduce this scarcity of finance,” he said. “We are not seeing a proliferation of bankable agribusiness projects across the continent, so what we are trying to do is not just to increase the flow of capital but also improving the investment readiness to enhance agriculture finance.”
According to Yosuke Kotsuji, a Senior Investment Officer at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), there is need to encourage local and regional agribusiness trade if we have to build agricultural food systems resilience.
“Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic have taught us that we cannot always rely onglobal food supply,” he said.
The SME Resource Bank will contain fundraising materials such as comprehensive investment memos, robust financial models and market analysis information that will inform SMEs about the investment process and requirements and how to prepare for participation in the Agribusiness Deal Room.
The resource bank will be intensely used in the capacity building and Deal Room preparation of hundreds of SMEs and Business Development providers. It will be an evolving open-source depository that will be open to other contributors for its expansion.
Contributing partners to the Resource Bank include USAID, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, Prosper Africa, GiZ, IFC and CrossBoundary.
The Agribusiness Deal Room is delivered by a consortium of partners namely: AECF, AfDB, AGRA, Bonrezo, CASA, CrossBoundary Group, GAIN, Grow Africa, Generation Africa, IDH, IFC, IFAD, KPMG, Rockefeller Foundation, SAFIN, Tanager, Blair Institute for global change, USAID and the World Economic Forum. The Deal Room is hosted annually at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) which is hosted by AGRF partners and the Government of Rwanda.