We can read about UNICEF Venture Capital Fund last week that will help identify and develop innovations that benefit children in developing countries. It is called UNICEF Innovation and has made some interesting investments already such as 9needs (South Africa), Mpower (Bangladesh), Innovation for Poverty Alleviation Lab (Pakistan) and Chatterbox (Cambodia). Right now UNICEF Innovation are seeking new innovations and this fund invest around 100 000 USD during a year but also bring the global UN network. So far, the fund has received 11 million USD from a range of private investors, along with the Danish and Finnish State. Sorry I did not see any investment from Sweden yet but I hope it can come soon. Instead of financial returns, investors can benefit from UNICEF Innovation as being part of building a network of new smart problem solvers, and of course take part and use the data that these companies and their innovation generates.
Prefer Trade to Aid
We wrote in an earlier newsletter that Swedfund recently invested another 9 million USD in the ICCF (Interact Climate Change Facility), which is focused primarily on renewable energy and financed by larger group development financiers. This will also help to develop interesting business opportunities in developing countries. Swedfund is the Development Finance Institution of the Swedish state and provide both soft loans and venture capital to companies interesting to establish and invest in developing countries.
Personally we prefer helping business along with market access and trade than see if they are in need of aid. More and more people are interested in social entrepreneurship and business ideas how to solve social and / or environmental problems. Work with healthcare and home care here in Sweden and can see a need to improve that alot in many places in Africa. A type of social entrepreneur is the entrepreneur who sells a service or product, but allows some or all of the profits go to charity. I am involved in such projects in East Africa where part of the profit will go back to the communities where we work. Yes we want to be profitable but also do some good along the way. As a result we hope to draw more customers to the company. Today we let our producers (suppliers) be a part of our charity work but we are also considering customers helping us decide how profits should be distributed between partner organizations.
Seed funding more important than Aid
It is difficult to grow a business without any access to financial funds or financial help. Working in East Africa I can see many business opportunities for producers to offer quality products, organic grown and fair traded. The total food market is just over 40 billion USD in Sweden and growing. So with market and customer access, the right know-how and supply chain to help many agricultural companies have excellent growth opportunities in Europe, Asia and USA. There are also good margin if you can solve the challenges with an effective and cost efficient supply chain from Africa to a consumer in Europe and part of the business strategy can be building a better community as well. Still these businesses need capital for start and growth and that could improve in most places in Africa, there is a need for better seed funding and financial services.
We here at B-Open Nordic work with international business development and both the commercial and legal side of international trade. If you are interested in social entrepreneurship you are welcome to contact us today to arrange a meeting,