Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P) is an impact investment group created in 2002 and dedicated to supporting African SMEs with capital, mentoring and technical assistance. I&P manages two financial instruments: IPDEV targeting small social business and IPAE targeting medium sized companies. The goal is to give entrepreneurs the resources they need to grow sustainable businesses, generate positive impacts and create local added value. I&P holds a portfolio of more than 45 investee companies across various sectors, from healthcare to transport to microfinance, in more than 12 African countries.
A unique lending approach:
The African economy has been experiencing a 5% growth rate since 2000. SMEs are key players in this growth as they create sustainable employment and add local value. However, these SMEs lack access to long-term financial resources, since they are too large for microfinance institutions and too small for traditional banks, and thus represent a “missing middle” in most African economies. Traditional financial institutions often ignore these small and medium-sized companies and their financing needs remain unfulfilled. Since its creation, I&P has aimed to promote responsible African entrepreneurs, who are able to build profitable and sustainable businesses. For this reason, I&P has developed a specific approach combining financial tools and strategic support. In addition to funding, I&P is an active partner in coaching, strengthening the capacity, and monitoring social and financial results. For example, I&P’s selection criteria dictate that it only works with businesses that do not use child labor, have anti-discrimination policies, manage supply chains responsibly and fight corruption. These are just a few of the standards it applies. With Kiva lender funding, I&P will be able to grant loans of $10,000 to $50,000 to African businesses that have outstanding social and/or environmental impacts. In particular, Kiva loans go to business owners who need additional working capital, but cannot access or afford to pay interest on commercial loans. Without Kiva capital, I&P would not have the capacity to offer these desirable loans. Instead, entrepreneurs -- considered to be too risky by most commercial banks -- would have to somehow raise their own capital. That can be a tough and unlikely proposition in many economies, but particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where financial resources for small to medium enterprises are particularly scarce. With the help of Kiva funding, these enterprises have a good chance of scaling-up enough to qualify for formal loans and eventually creating more jobs.