The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs and the Argidius Foundation in Switzerland have announced Investisseurs & Partenaires, an impact investment group dedicated to growing small businesses in Africa, as the winner of the inaugural Argidius-ANDE Finance Challenge.
Created in 2012 to accelerate the development of innovative solutions to help fill the financing gap for emerging market startups, the €1 million ($1.27 million) prize was awarded to I&P in recognition of its efforts to create a local equity investment vehicle and supporting infrastructure in Burkina Faso. I&P was selected from among five finalists that had been awarded €200,000 (more than $253,000) each to conduct extensive pilot programs focused on at least one of six target countries — Burkina Faso, Guatemala, Honduras, Mali, Moldova, and Nicaragua — and demonstrate the potential to achieve the greatest impact through both replication and scale.
During the pilot phase of the challenge, I&P built a strong management team, provided coaching and technical assistance support to local entrepreneurs, and raised €1.34 million ($1.7 million) from twelve investors, 77 percent of which was African private capital. I&P hope to build on the experience and structure an equity investment industry dedicated to emerging businesses in Africa through a network of ten vehicles in ten countries.
"What the selection committee found most impressive about I&P was its vision and ability to implement a proven investment model in very difficult business environments," said ANDE executive director Randall Kempner.