There’s an entrepreneurial revolution underway in the developing world. Technological progress, access to the Internet, smartphones and a desire for a better life mean that these countries are producing a staggering number of small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs). For many of these capable entrepreneurs, the major obstacle to their small business growth is not geopolitical, cultural or even economic, but simply access to capital.
Oftentimes even the most successful of these entrepreneurs don’t have the required assets to secure traditional financing. Local banks may be unwilling or unable to finance the entrepreneur’s transaction in the required time, while alternative sources might offer financing, but at staggering interest rates.
So how does Kountable work? Using a cloud technology platform we deliver supply chain as a service, helping entrepreneurs with the procurement of goods, logistics and overall trade management of their tender.
We piloted the platform with Bigger Future, a group of successful Rwandan entrepreneurs organized by a successful Chicago based entrepreneur named Dave Ormesher. Every quarter for five straight years, Dave has been flying to Kigali, Rwanda, to coach entrepreneurs and had experienced first hand their frustrations in searching for financing. The night before I was to present to the group, I was up late perfecting the pitch deck wondering how a group of Rwandan entrepreneurs would respond to my thesis, presentation and technology concept. I needn’t have worried – they inherently understood the problem we had identified for they lived it every single day in a resource challenged environment strengthening their social capital and networks in response. They wanted us to build it immediately and agreed to become our first users, partners and champions. That was almost four years ago.
From this initial group we have funded nearly 200 projects valued at $54M, and of that have created nearly $23M in gross revenue to those SMEs. It’s clear that Rwanda was just the beginning.
Our team at Kountable has grown and we now have offices in San Francisco, Kigali and Nairobi. Our entrepreneurial partners have continued to grow rapidly and we are currently evaluating additional markets to grow into as well. Rwanda will always be our birthplace and we look forward to the day we can call it our launchpad as well.
Financial regulations forced banks to pull back from small business lending in the wake of the financial crisis as pressure to reduce risk exposure...