Strathmore University to Host Africa Finance and Investment Forum (AFIF)
SME managers, entrepreneurs, investors and government representatives are scheduled to meet in Nairobi next week for the Africa Finance and Investment Forum (AFIF).
The Pan-African event slated to run for three days beginning February 13 will focus on entrepreneurship, innovation and access to finance in sectors such as energy, water, ICT, health and agriculture.
The forum is an annual business platform initiated by Belgium-based European Marketing Research Centre (EMRC) in 2005 with the aim of encouraging entrepreneurship, promoting SME growth and attracting investment to Africa.
AFIF 2017 is organized in collaboration with Strathmore University, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Rabobank Foundation, Afreximbank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC, World Bank) and Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners (ESP).
The AFIFs manager Inês Bastos reckons that while SMEs are creators of the middle class in Africa, their access to finance remains a hurdle for entrepreneurs in the region. To strengthen the private sector in Africa, AFIF offers a platform to promote new business partnerships between entrepreneurs and investors which will contribute to a sustainable development in Africa, he said.
Two Kenyan firms R n G Company, and EuroFresh Exotic made it to the final list of six SMEs nominated for the AFIF Entrepreneurship Award 2017.
The winner of the challenge, which is aimed at financial support for African-based SMEs, will be announced during the Nairobi event.
The six finalists drawn from Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania were selected following a rigorous process from among 51 projects within Africa. They were selected based on their social, economic and ecological impact, and their potential for growth and job creation nationally and regionally. SMEs are the key drivers of growth and are responsible for over 50 per cent of GDP and over 60 per cent of employment across Sub Saharan Africa. One of the principal constrains to their growth is a lack of access to finance. SMEs are situated in the missing middle category, the gap between microfinance and traditional financing.
Highlights of the AFIF 2017 agenda include a two-day training on Scaling an Entrepreneurial Ventures which will provide entrepreneurs with tools to present a business plan to potential investors for financing.
The event will also feature panel discussions with top experts, including speakers from several international organisations such as the International Finance Corporation (World Bank), Rabobank Foundation, Japanese Intl Cooperation Agency and Strathmore University.
Others will include Afreximbank, European Investment Bank African and several chambers of commerce.