Bootcamp helps 12 Sierra Leonean entrepreneurs become pitch-perfect for impact investment deal summit

Twelve Sierra Leonean entrepreneurs, who have gone through a comprehensive seven-week ‘bootcamp’, will be presenting their business plans to representatives from nine investment funds this Friday (3 December 2021) at a special impact investment deal summit organised by Acumen West Africa and Invest Salone.

Designed and led by a team from Acumen, the bootcamp is intended to increase the investment-readiness of a select group of Sierra Leonean entrepreneurs delivering social impact and innovation in sectors such as agriculture, fisheries and manufacturing. Acumen West Africa, through its role as an investor and through its Acumen Academy learning programmes for entrepreneurs, has witnessed both sides of the challenges of raising capital. As such, the bootcamp is designed to help participating companies better understand the expectations of institutional investors.

Firms selected to take part are established businesses operating for at least two years, and are commercially viable with a clearly defined social objective. Conditions of the bootcamp require that the companies should not have already raised more than US$0.25 million externally and should be looking to attract between US$100,000 and US$5 million in future investment.

The 12 participating businesses are:

  • Access Glee – organic food processing
  • Jaiima Farms – production, marketing and distribution of locally grown farm fresh produce
  • Lambano – poultry feed production and layer poultry farming
  • Mama Jah’s – processing and packaging of dried snack foods
  • Sierra Agri – agricultural food manufacturing, specialising in sweet potato bread, cassava flour and baby food
  • Wangu Farms – organic fruit and vegetable cultivation including passion fruits, pineapples, sour sop, tamarind and mushrooms, as well as processing and distributing value-added end-produce
  • Breakfast Club Africa – knowledge-sharing and executive coaching services
  • Work Ready Africa – employability and training addressing key workforce skills and unemployment issues
  • Absolute Barrkee – manufacturer of high-quality common wire nails and sanitary paper products
  • Cerosa – building materials firm with plans to expand into local and sustainable building materials such as earthen bricks
  • Premier Enviro Solutions Ltd – affordable and high-specification building materials from waste plastic
  • WaSAP – wells (manual drilling), pit latrines, toilet seats, rain harvesting, handwashing and training in EMAS technologies (low-cost technology for water supplies)

These 12 companies will be presenting their business plans before representatives from Cordaid Investment, African Development Bank, Union Trust Bank, the World Bank Accelerator Programme, Ecobank, Open Capital Advisors, Solon Capital, CRS Impact Investing and Acumen West Africa.

The bootcamp focused on helping participants to understand and develop business models, financial forecasts and pathways for scaling up their enterprises. It has also provided training on how to make a pitch to potential investors.

Meghan Curran, West Africa Director of Acumen says: “Too often we have seen strong, impact-focused entrepreneurs leading growing companies be overlooked by investors because they haven’t packaged the key information about their company, and its future growth trajectory, in the way that investors expect to hear it. They are successfully running the business, but raising capital for it is a new endeavour. We designed this bootcamp programme to bridge that gap: to help entrepreneurs tell the story of their company in a digestible form, and to help investors in Sierra Leone say ‘yes’ to some incredible social enterprises.”

Avril Pratt, Invest Salone Consultant, adds: “These companies pitching at our first Acumen West Africa-Invest Salone impact investment deal summit demonstrate the extent of Sierra Leone’s untapped impact investment market and will boost the confidence of impact investors in the breadth of opportunity available here. We see this as the beginning of an exciting journey to encourage SMEs to demonstrate their growth potential and be audacious in telling their success stories.”

In order to measure the impact of the bootcamp and deal summit, participants contributed to a baseline survey at the start of the programme; with a follow-up survey scheduled for two months after the bootcamp ends. Together, these surveys will measure participant satisfaction, financial performance, understanding of core concepts, and social and economic impact.

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