History & Results
Bid Network is a Dutch Foundation that was established in 2007 with the goal to contribute to sustainable economic growth in emerging countries through entrepreneurship. Since 2017, this goal is more focused: to become the independent trusted partner for SMEs in Eastern African by facilitating tailored financial solution throughout their life cycle.
2007 – 2015 Closing the Finance Gap
From the start, we have always been primarily focused on closing the finance gap for emerging market entrepreneurs who are caught in the ‘missing middle’. They are too large to be supported by friends, family or Micro Finance Institutions, but they are still too small to be financed by institutional investors or lack the collateral to go to a bank. We have been supporting these entrepreneurs by providing training and introducing them to our global network of 400+ private and institutional investors.
2016 – 2017 Investment Readiness and Dealmaking in Uganda
In the last decade, BiD Network mostly executed large donor funded programs globally. However, in 2016 we decided to work towards self-sustainability of our organization. To achieve this, we developed a business model around our core activity: investment readiness and deal making. To be fully focused on this, we restricted ourselves to ‘one country, one service’ and attract some new people with the right expertise and business acumen, as our entrepreneurs would become our clients instead of our beneficiaries.
The pilot in Uganda ended in 2017 and we have been able to facilitate 12 investment deals with a value of nearly $4M. Nine of these deals were done by (syndicates of) angel investors. We have also facilitated some large investments, up to $1.7M. The pilot taught us the necessity of our work and the great satisfaction and social impact of facilitating investments for missing middle entrepreneurs.
Why we focused on Uganda
The choice to do our pilot in Uganda is based on the history of BiD Network in Uganda, as well as the country’s characteristics. BiD Network has been active in Uganda for over 8 years, facilitating 27 investments worth $5.5M. Between 2014 and 2016, BiD Network managed the IFDC Catalyst Program, preparing agricultural SMEs for investment. Uganda is a relatively attractive place to do business and invest, due to its rather stable political and economic climate. At the same time, it faces major challenges. Youth unemployment is huge – half of the population is under 15 – and challenging, with 700,000 new labour entrants per year. Poor access to finance is another major challenge, hampering SME growth and hence job creation.
2018 Expansion in the East African region
From 2018 onward, we have started to expand in the East African region with Rwanda being the first country.