Open Capital, USAID and Four Investor Partners Launch Investment Readiness Program

Open Capital Advisors, USAID, Blue Haven Initiative, Eleos Foundation, Montpelier Foundation, and Fondazione Opes launch innovative platform to support and finance high-potential small and growing businesses in East Africa.

NAIROBI, KENYA – Open Capital (OC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced an innovative investment-readiness program to catalyze private investment into early-stage enterprises and foster financially sustainable acceleration in East Africa. Together with Blue Haven Initiative, Eleos Foundation, Montpelier Foundation, and Fondazione Opes, the Investment Readiness Program will screen 60 small and growing businesses (SGBs) and support 15 over a two year period, catalyzing nearly $3.5 million in private sector resources supported by an investment of $600,000 from USAID.

“Our long-term, collective goal is to prove a successful model to bridge the gap between deserving, innovative entrepreneurs and active impact investors,” said Open Capital Managing Partner, Andreas Zeller. “Once proven, we hope to catalyze similar partnerships between investors, service providers, and high-growth businesses in East Africa and other frontier markets.”

The goal of the partnership is to increase the number of successful investments in early stage, deserving SGBs, leading to financial returns, job creation, livelihood improvement, and opportunities for entrepreneurs to become engines of economic growth in their communities. The Investment Readiness Program will deliver an innovative new form of tailored technical assistance to accelerate growth and investment for early stage SGBs in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda. The partnership will work closely with four experienced impact investors – Blue Haven Initiative, Eleos Foundation, Montpelier Foundation, and Fondazione Opes, all of which have allocated capital for further investments in businesses supported through the program.

“We’re happy to partner with private sector organization like Open Capital Advisors that support social impact investment,” said Kenya Mission Director, Karen Freeman. “USAID/Kenya embraces a new business model for stimulating inclusive, market-driven, and environmentally sustainable economic growth, creating widespread economic opportunities, increasing employment, generating revenues Kenya needs to meet its social commitments and laying the foundation for a transformed economy.  Through partnerships, we believe our support towards increased capacity of civil society, affordable and quality health care and education, increased access to finance, improved natural resource management and business and regulatory environment will help to sustainably transform Kenya’s governance and economy.”

This Global Development Alliance is formed out of the Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship (PACE) Initiative from the U.S. Global Development Lab at USAID, with the goal of spurring innovations that accelerate the creation of promising, high growth, and financially sustainable entrepreneurial ventures across the developing world. Through partnering with incubators, accelerators, and those who work with early-stage enterprises, PACE aims to identify innovations that help entrepreneurs bridge the “Pioneer Gap” that exists between high-risk, promising early stage enterprises and ranks of impact investors looking for investable enterprises – thus unlocking the potential of thousands of promising enterprises around the world.

Background on partner organizations

Open Capital

Open Capital (OC) is a management consulting and financial advisory firm that supports high-growth enterprises and innovative investors to solve tough problems in frontier markets. Over the last 5 years, OCA’s method to support earlier stage businesses within the region has led to 65 successful SGB engagements in East Africa and more than $43 million in capital invested. OC’s model involves holistic, heavy-touch support to help individual SGBs plan a clear growth strategy, build a strong operational foundation, and determine a realistic capital need.  Open Capital has 26 full-time staff based in Nairobi and supports businesses in 9 countries across East & Southern Africa.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is leading the U.S. Government’s efforts to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies. USAID’s mission is to advance broad-based economic growth, democracy and human progress in developing countries. The U.S. Global Development Lab is a new entity within USAID that seeks to increase the application of science, technology, innovation and partnerships to achieve, sustain and extend the Agency’s development impact to help hundreds of millions of people lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

In Kenya, the USAID Mission uses new and innovative alliances with the private sector and other donors to leverage resources, impact and expertise to create the institutional platform and policy environment needed to accelerate growth while expanding access to historically marginalized populations, particularly women, youth and pastoral communities.

Blue Haven Initiative

Blue Haven Initiative is a US-based family investment office dedicated to deploying capital to solve social problems. Blue Haven invests internationally across asset classes in high-impact opportunities, with several investments in emerging and frontier markets, including East Africa. As part of its total portfolio strategy, over the next five years Blue Haven plans to invest $50 million directly into early-stage companies designed to improve people’s lives and the environment.

Eleos Foundation

The Eleos Foundation is an impact investor that strives to improve millions of lives by investing in pioneering business solutions to solve social problems.  Eleos is founded on the idea that sustainable, market-based solutions will be the most effective way to eradicate extreme poverty.

Eleos invests in early stage businesses in developing markets, bridging the “Pioneer Gap” by providing high-potential entrepreneurs with the capital and advisory services needed to take their business models from pilot to proven model, ready to scale.  As portfolio businesses develop, Eleos also assists them raising additional capital, negotiating alongside the entrepreneur to attract the right mix of investors to succeed.

Montpelier Foundation

Montpelier Foundation UK supports and empowers disadvantaged people across the world. Using a mix of grants, investments and debt capital, the Foundation supports organizations offering sustainable and scalable solutions for low-income groups in sectors such as education, agriculture and energy.

Fondazione Opes

Fondazione Opes is an Italian-based impact investor focused on supporting the development of businesses that propose to achieve a significant and lasting social impact through the adoption of economically viable business models. Opes focuses on early stage businesses that have a strong entrepreneur, a clear and realistic prospect for financial viability, and a well-defined and measurable model of social impact.

Opes seeks to leverage philanthropic capital to encourage experimentation and the development of businesses.  Opes considers investments in East Africa across a broad range of sectors, including waste management, access to electricity, small-scale agriculture, water, education, and health.

PACE presentation