Interview: Vivienne Court invests in Rwandan coffee trader KAMG

Marcel Klooss of Vivienne Court visited our Get in the Ring Africa regional final last September 2014. That’s where he met Rwandan entrepreneur and coffee supplier Kamitatu Kayobotsi. On behalf of Vivienne Court, he is currently cooperating with and investing in mr. Kamitatu’s business KAMG Trading and Coffee Export. We interviewed Marcel about the investment process so far. Can you tell us a bit more about Vivienne Court and your impact investment practices? Vivienne Court is a trading firm based in Sydney, Australia. The setup of the company is that it has no shareholders but is owned by a foundation. Half of the profit of the firm goes to the foundation. The foundation looks for projects to invest in where the dollar impact is high and where ideally VivCourt can add something more in terms of management support.  As we just started it is a completely new area for Vivienne Court where we have no experience at all, so we are excited to learn along the way but also expect things to go wrong in ways we have no idea of yet. Everything is already very different in our current setup with KAMG than we initially thought it would be. How did you get in contact with Kamitatu Kayobotsi? BiD Network invited me to Get in the Ring Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, last September. During the event, I spoke to a lot of different people and entrepreneurs, including Kamitatu Kayobotsi: a Rwandan coffee supplier in need of investment. I visited his factory to learn more about his business. He seemed to have the right profile to match our foundation’s...

Philanthropy Day

Today is Philanthropy Day in the Netherlands. A recent study by ABN Amro MeesPierson by the School of Business and Economics of Maastricht University shows that wealthy Dutch citizens are willing to support and be involved with socially relevant initiatives, such as social-impact investing. And this is precisely in line with BiD Network’s mission: boost economic development and create job opportunities in emerging markets, through matchmaking between entrepreneurs and investors. A waste company in Uganda that collects waste and at the same time raises awareness about recycling and public health. A mobile technology company from Rwanda that develops mobile solutions for different sectors, such as agriculture and healthcare, while providing the Rwandan youth with new skills and job opportunities by offering code programs to schools and universities.These are just two examples of social entrepreneurs from emerging countries, who are able to start, grow and expand their businesses with the support of funds or (private) investments. They already have a solid business plan and growth potential. What they need is finance. BiD Network prepares entrepreneurs from emerging markets for finance. Our matchmakers and experienced advisors bring entrepreneurs together with interested investors. Business angels in our network are not so much looking for a maximum return – because these are high-risk investments – but more for a way to make a difference. They are dedicated and willing to share their knowledge and experiences. Join us Are you interested in impact investing in Africa and other emerging markets and BiD Network’s services for investors? Learn more on our investor...

Week of the Entrepreneur: be inspired by border-crossing Dutch entrepreneurs

Next week, the Week of the Entrepreneur takes place in the Netherlands, an event that focuses on (starting) Dutch entrepreneurs and the future of their businesses. BiD Network does not only work with entrepreneurs from emerging markets, but also with Dutch entrepreneurs who want to start or grow a business in an emerging country. We have several years of experience in organizing a business plan competition for border-crossing Dutch entrepreneurs, called Ondernemen Zonder Grenzen, together with partners Crosswise Works (formerly NCDO) and EY. We take the Week of the Entrepreneur as an opportunity to highlight some of the Ondernemen Zonder Grenzen competition finalists from the last years.   African Clean Energy Entrepreneur Ruben Walker was one of the finalists in the 2013 competition of Ondernemen Zonder Grenzen. He started his business African Clean Energy in 2011 to provide a solution for the problem of cooking on open fires with the use of dirty and dangerous fuel, which is the case for three billion people across developing countries worldwide. African Clean Energy has developed a cookstove that “burns fuel cleanly to make mealtimes a smoke-free zone.” Today, his factory, located in Lesotho, produces around 200 cookstoves a day and he wants to expand this to thousands a day in several factories.   Martono & Company: Bast With Martono & Company, entrepreneur Jeroen Janssens wants to brings more awareness to consumers with regard to barbecuing. After traveling through Indonesia, he returned with the idea to turn the waste of coconuts into a usable and eco-friendly product for barbecuing: coconut coal, an alternative to charcoal. He turned this idea into a realistic business plan...

Interview: Rwandan Mobile Technology company HeHe Labs

Clarisse Iribagiza is the co-founder and CEO of HeHe Labs, a Rwandan Mobile Technology research and innovation lab. The company offers mobile solutions for different sectors, such as agriculture, infrastructure and healthcare, as well as code programs for schools and universities in Rwanda. BiD Network arranged a business trip to the Netherlands for Clarisse, filled with B2B meetings and an opportunity to pitch her business during our investor cocktail on March 26nd. She’s hoping to find investment to keep her business growing. HeHe Labs was founded in August of 2010, when Clarisse had finished a program in mobile technology and entrepreneurship during her studies in computer engineering. “The program made me realize I could build something meaningful with the skills I had developed during my studies. HeHe means “where” in Kinyarwanda and is based on the first application we built during the program, which was location-based and helped people to get around and find their way in Kigali. Working on this application helped us acquiring the skills needed to build different types of mobile information systems.” Can you tell a bit more about the sectors HeHe Labs is focusing on and some of your current applications? “I would say we are an engineering firm; our work is around research and product development. The applications we develop are quite diverse but all focused on helping organizations improve their operational efficiency through the use of ICT and specifically mobile technologies. Up to 80% of our population is involved in agriculture in some way. We have built a value chain agriculture application, as ICT enables to improve how agriculture is done. On...

BiD Network’s first Investor Cocktail of the Year

Yesterday we organized a cocktail for our network of investors. The event took place in Amsterdam and was the first of a number of matchmaking activities to happen this year. For this meetup we choose to focus on investment opportunities in Rwanda, one of BiD Network’s target countries. The evening started with a word of welcome by our investor matchmaker Laura Smeets and our partner Martijn Blom of De Investeerdersclub and Droomzaken, followed by three entrepreneurs who pitched their businesses. The first to present was Clarisse Iribagiza of HeHe Labs, a Rwandan tech research lab that offers mobile solutions for different sectors, such as agriculture, infrastructure and health care. HeHe Labs also provides a code program for school and universities in Rwanda, thereby creating employment opportunities for the Rwandan youth. Next to take the stage was Sivan Breemhaar, founder of Afriek, a company that designs high-quality blazers that are made in Rwanda. With her unique designs she wants to create awareness among her customers about the clothes they are wearing. Lastly, Laurent Demuynck of Kigali Farms told the audience about how he wants to boost the mushroom industry in Rwanda with his business. Next to these live pitches, we also showed several video pitches of our entrepreneurs in Rwanda presenting their businesses. After the presentation of these Rwandan businesses, the cocktail continued with more mingling and networking between our guests. We look back at a great evening that brought together different types of investors, funds, and others with an interest in investment opportunities in emerging markets. Are you an investor and would you like to join one or more...

World Water Day: Raising Awareness on Water

March 22nd is World Water Day; a day to raise awareness on the use and impact of water, or a shortage of water. While people in many western countries can use water anyplace and any time, this is not the case for most developing nations as millions of people don’t have access to safe drinking water. This year’s theme of World Water Day is ‘Water and Sustainable Development’. Water is one of the main sectors we focus on in sourcing and supporting entrepreneurs in emerging markets. AquaRed and Nazava Water Filters are two businesses in water that that have been able to grow with our support. AquaRed is a social enterprise linked to the International Red Cross that provides healthy drinking water distribution. They started in Ghana and are currently developing programs in other African countries. Through their projects, they create “a solid infrastructure and distribution network to bring the water to the people who most need it, empowering local opportunities and demonstrating that a sustainable and scalable operation can be created to start solving one of world’s most dire challenges.” Nazava Water Filters provides clean drinking water through selling water purifiers for households in Indonesia and beyond. In November 2010, the company was one of three winners of the Dutch based and BiD Network co-sponsored business plan competition “Ondernemers zonder Grenzen” (Entrepreneurs without Borders). With the obtained USD 86,000 in investment funds from partners Droomzaken and de Investeerdersclub, Nazava planned to expand the sales and marketing throughout Indonesia. Are you or do you know an entrepreneur wanting to start or expand a business in water in an emerging...