African suppliers often cannot access the necessary financial services they need; their financial position makes them too large to be targeted by development aid interventions, but too small to qualify for loans from many private banks. This space is known as the ‘missing middle.’ At the same time, social lenders in Europe and North America cannot identify a sufficient number of viable projects to fund and face high risks catering to the needs of the missing middle. ProFound contributes towards bridging this financial gap through organising matchmaking sessions between suppliers and social lenders.
“ProFound provides full value chain solutions from market analysis, business planning, market access and rural finance. We matched five companies from Ethiopia and Ghana with three social lenders who are members of the Council on Smallholder Agricultural Finance (CSAF)” – Bert-Jan Ottens, managing director of ProFound
Positive feedback at BioFach 2017
At BioFach 2017, we organised a total of 11 matchmaking sessions with Rabo Rural Fund from Rabobank, Triodos and Shared Interest to help reduce the finance barriers suppliers face to export to international markets. Suppliers need working and investment capital as well as term loans to finance their exports and operating costs, particularly as it can take months before clients in Europe pay for exported products.
“The preparation of the matchmaking by ProFound was highly appreciated. We met multiple interested and well-matched producers that we would hope to mature into opportunities for the future. The facilitation allowed for an open and easy discussion with the producers at a convenient time for them to not distract them from promoting their products.” – France Villeneuve, Regional Representative Northern Hemisphere & Pacific Rim at Shared Interest
As ProFound works directly with suppliers on export and value addition, we can introduce social lenders to companies with lower risk. Shared Interest’s local representatives in Kenya and Ghana will follow up on the appointments made. If successful, the producers could find their financial needs met that will give them a boost to export to Europe in the next 6-12 months.
Looking to the future
We will continue to facilitate similar matchmaking sessions with social lenders in the future as part of our solutions package; addressing the market access challenges with the right financial solutions at the right time, to boost business for African producers.