Tag Archives: African investing

8 WAYS TO ASSESS THE IMPACT OF #AFRICAN #TECH #STARTUPS

 

I. Jobs Created

  • We of course want to know the total number of jobs created by startups. In addition we need to understand the type of jobs created and how that fits with the profile of the national labor force. What are the salary levels and how do they compare to the local statutory minimum wage? Will these startups have a significant impact on their local labor markets?

II. Capital Raised

  • Are these startups attracting new capital to Africa?
  • Are they attracting foreign capital from other African countries?
  • Are they attracting capital from within their own countries?

III. Increase in Skills and Know-How

  • Are the startups introducing new technology or management practices
  • Are skills and know-how spreading beyond the universities to the general population?

IV. Return on Capital Invested

  • Have investors in African startups experienced favorable outcomes?

V. Export Revenue Within and Outside Africa

  • Are African startups exporting?
  • Are African startups enabling exports by other companies in their home countries?

VI. Supportive of African Business

  • In what other tangible ways have these startups helped foster the growth of African businesses?
  • Training
  • Access to customers
  • Access to capital

VII. Social Impact

  • Environmental
  • Education
  • Poverty reduction
  • Financial inclusion

VIII. Intangibles

  • Inspiration – Is there a 12 year old girl in a village saying “I want to be an entrepreneur too!”
  • Positive influence on government – Is there a community of entrepreneurs who can make their voice heard in the halls of government to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem?
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5 KEYS TO INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTING IN AFRICA

US investors can find good deals in Africa and not leave all the action to the Chinese. How? By taking the long view, and aligning their investment strategy with countries’ development priorities.

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For example, Ghana has launched an initiative that links the obvious need for better infrastructure with the goal of industrializing the economy, with a sovereign wealth funds to back it up. Implementation requires billions in investment and technical assistance, largely from the private sector. Here’s how US companies can win business:

  1. Adopt a long term perspective. These are long term projects intended to transform Ghana’s economy and enable high value industry to thrive. The benefits to investors and operators are also long term in the form of offtakes that will continue well into the future. These benefits easily overwhelm concerns about currency fluctuation, or bureaucratic challenges.
  2. Make your presence known on the ground. Brazilian and Chinese investors send teams to explore the market even before any bid announcement or call for investors. Email and social media have their limits. You have to go there!
  3. Identify a local partner. Successful teams almost always include a local private sector player as a joint venture partner. There are consultants based in the US and abroad who can provide leads for good JV partners.
  4. Bring a complete solution. A complete solution brings financial and operational capabilities—someone to finance, build and operate. It also includes service, maintenance and training. Infrastructure giants like GE often have such capabilities in-house. Asian and European operating companies often have government backing. US investors should think in terms of assembling a consortium that includes these elements. A private equity shop or investor group, needs an operating partner. A builder or contractor, needs a financial investor able to provide capital. Agencies like OPIC and EXIMBANK can help manage risk.
  5. Identify skilled, knowledgeable advisors. There needs to be someone who understands the local environment, but also understands the priorities of a US-based investor.

In cases like Ghana, the projects are structured with offtake and other cash flow sources clearly identified. The Ghanaian government is prepared to help with advice and seed money via the sovereign wealth fund. Lots of guidance and support are also available in the US from government and private sources. This should be a win for US investors, and for the emerging world once we get in the game in a serious way.

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Major Africa Stock Market and Exchange Rate Changes in Q4-2014

Advansa International follows exchange rates and stock market indexes for several emerging and frontier markets. Exchange rates and stock indexes are recorded on the last trading day of the week. The tables below show changes from the last trading day of the last full week of the quarter for several key markets in Africa.

Table 1 

 STOCK MARKET INDEX TRACKER 4TH QUARTER 2014

AFRICA

COUNTRY

4TH QUARTER PCT CHANGE

GHANA-Local Currency

1.42%

GHANA-US$

2.83%

KENYA-Local Currency

-4.70%

KENYA-US$

-6.19%

NIGERIA-Local Currency

-15.66%

NIGERIA-US$

-27.06%

SOUTH AFRICA-Local Currency

-0.37%

SOUTH AFRICA-US$

-3.42%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-Local Currency

-1.91%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-US$

-6.05%

MSCI AFRICA-Local Currency

0.89%

MSCI AFRICA-US$

-2.52%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-Local Currency

-2.10%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-US$

-6.97%

Sources: Stock exchange websites, Financial Times, Advansa International data

Table 2

4TH QUARTER 2014 EXCHANGE RATE TRACKER

AFRICA

COUNTRY

4TH QTR PCT CHG

YTD

DEC PCT CHANGE

CFA AREA*

-4.14%

-11.66%

GHANA

1.41%

-25.86%

KENYA

-1.49%

-5.08%

NIGERIA

-11.40%

-13.27%

SOUTH AFRICA

-3.05%

-9.56%

TANZANIA

-2.07%

-7.42%

UGANDA

-3.88%

-9.18%

Sources: Financial Times, Advansa International data

*Includes most French speaking countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Cote D’ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, Togo and others

It was a rough year for emerging market stocks with the MSCI Emerging Markets Index losing 2.1% in the fourth quarter and 0.69% the full year 2014. African stock markets did better than emerging markets in Q4, though for the year the MSCI Africa index trailed emerging markets. Nigeria was the worst performer largely due to the fall in the price of oil. Its downward momentum continued into the first week of 2015 with the Global MSCI Nigeria ETF falling another 9%. Ghana was the strongest performer, up 1.42% in the 4th quarter, and 2.83% for the year.

All currencies in our table fell against the dollar in 2014, which diminishes returns (and increases losses) for foreign investors. This is partly a function of dollar strength rather than weakness of African currencies. The US economy finished the year strong and the dollar index was up from 99.1 at the end of 2013 to 102.8 at the end of 2014’s 3rd quarter. The currency depreciation also reflects the challenges to resource based emerging and frontier market economies that has persisted all year. A couple of currencies were especially weak. Ghana for example was down almost 26% in 2014. Aggressive action by the central bank, with the assistance of the IMF reversed the slide and the cedi has recovered, showing a slight gain in the fourth quarter. Nigeria’s naira showed the biggest loss of the quarter again influenced by the drop in the price of oil.

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Major African Stock Market and Exchange Rate Changes in Q3-2014

Advansa International follows exchange rates and stock market indexes for several emerging and frontier markets. Exchange rates and stock indexes are recorded on the last trading day of the week. The tables below show changes from the last trading day of the last full week of the quarter for several key markets in Africa.

Table 1 

 STOCK MARKET INDEX TRACKER 3RD QUARTER 2014

AFRICA

COUNTRY

3RD QUARTER PCT CHANGE

GHANA-Local Currency

-4.18%

GHANA-US$

-3.87%

KENYA-Local Currency

7.92%

KENYA-US$

6.18%

NIGERIA-Local Currency

-3.24%

NIGERIA-US$

-3.86%

SOUTH AFRICA-Local Currency

-1.90%

SOUTH AFRICA-US$

-7.28%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-Local Currency

9.21%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-US$

2.28%

MSCI AFRICA-Local Currency

0.52%

MSCI AFRICA-US$

-4.41%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-Local Currency

1.44%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-US$

-2.13%

Sources: Stock exchange websites, Financial Times, Advansa International data

Table 2

3RD QUARTER 2014 EXCHANGE RATE TRACKER

AFRICA

COUNTRY

3RD QTR PCT CHG

YTD

SEP PCT CHANGE

CFA AREA*

-6.92%

-7.85%

GHANA

0.31%

-26.89%

KENYA

-1.74%

-3.64%

NIGERIA

-0.62%

-2.10%

SOUTH AFRICA

-5.38%

-6.72%

TANZANIA

-1.16%

-5.46%

UGANDA

-1.89%

-5.51%

Sources: Financial Times, Advansa International data

*Includes most French speaking countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Cote D’ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, Togo and others

Emerging and frontier market stocks showed mixed results as the MSCI Emerging Markets Index rose 1.44%, and the MSCI Africa Index was up 0.52%. Choppy commodities prices, and mixed economic performance lead to losses in some countries like South Africa and gains in others. The Nairobi Exchange in Kenya and the West Africa Bourse were the strong performers in Q3.

Currencies that were weak in the first half of the year—notably Ghana—have largely stabilized. Though most currencies are lower against the dollar, this is due more to a strong dollar than weakness elsewhere. The US Dollar index rose from 99.316 in Q2 to 100.342 in Q3.

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Africa 8 and 3 Cities to Watch

Two recent stories caught my attention for their deeper analysis of African economic growth:

A post in LinkedIn’s African Financial Professionals group links to an article about the Africa 8. The Africa 8 are 8 countries highlighted in a study by Ecobank, a pan African bank based in Togo. Ecobank predicts Angola, Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Rwanda to be the drivers of growth on the the continent. Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya are known to be attractive due to their political stability (Ghana), size (Nigeria) and tech driven dynamism (Kenya). Cote d’Ivoire has put its civil conflict in the past and in some ways is like a francophone version of Ghana. Congo and Angola are all about oil. Mozambique shows high rates of growth but one wonders if its influence is felt beyond its borders.

The question for all these countries is whether they will evolve into more than just natural resource plays which are vulnerable to market swings and technological and social trends such as the global imperative to move away from fossil fuels. Many of these economies are also carrying large amounts of public debt which could become a problem if US interest rates rise or commodity prices fall.

The second story identifies three African cities that are at the beginning of their growth curve: 1) Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, 2) Dakar, Senegal, 3) Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. http://www.emia.org/news/story/978 This is another way of acknowledging the growth prospects of the countries for which these are the major cities.

In addition to Cote d’Ivoire’s positive outlook, Abidjan is considered one of the most attractive cities in West Africa and is an important center for meetings, tourism and commerce. Dakar, the capital of Senegal is a port at the westernmost location on the African continent, giving it easy access to Europe, North and South America. If West Africa is serious about regional integration then Dakar will become even more attractive as a gateway city. Ouagadougou stands out in this group in that although it is a national capital it is not one of the region’s most important cities. It is included largely because of growth in Burkina Faso’s gold mines.

Investors and entrepreneurs considering entry into Africa should start by investigating the locations cited above. Each is brimming with opportunities and fraught with challenges—all for different reasons. Knowledgeable advisors both at home and on the ground can help point the way.

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Major African Stock Index and Exchange Rate Changes in Q2-2014

Advansa International follows exchange rates and stock market indexes for several emerging and frontier markets. Exchange rates and stock indexes are recorded on the last trading day of the week. The tables below show changes from the last trading day of the last full week of the quarter for several key markets in Africa.

Table 1 

 STOCK MARKET INDEX TRACKER 2ND QUARTER 2014

AFRICA

COUNTRY

2ND QUARTER PCT CHANGE

GHANA-Local Currency

-1.42%

GHANA-US$

-18.45%

KENYA-Local Currency

-2.78%

KENYA-US$

-3.86%

NIGERIA-Local Currency

10.06%

NIGERIA-US$

11.33%

SOUTH AFRICA-Local Currency

5.62%

SOUTH AFRICA-US$

5.32%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-Local Currency

-2.17%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-US$

-2.99%

MSCI AFRICA-Local Currency

4.25%

MSCI AFRICA-US$

3.94%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-Local Currency

4.44%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-US$

6.22%

Sources: Stock exchangewebsites, Financial Times, Advansa International data

 

Table 2

2ND QUARTER 2014 EXCHANGE RATE TRACKER

AFRICA

COUNTRY

2ND QTR PCT CHG 

 

YTD JUN PCT CHANGE 

CFA AREA*

-0.81%

-0.99%

GHANA

-17.03%

-27.12%

KENYA

-1.07%

-1.94%

NIGERIA

1.27%

-1.49%

SOUTH AFRICA

-0.30%

-1.42%

TANZANIA

-1.09%

-4.35%

UGANDA

-1.85%

-3.70%

Sources: Financial Times, Advansa International data

*Includes most French speaking countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Cote D’ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, Togo and others

The big markets–Nigeria and South Africa performed well. Both markets were up in local currency and in dollars.It appears that the long term story–the demographic boom, the growing middle class, the improved political environment in some countries–are causing investors to look past current bumps in the road.

Despite lackluster growth, South African stocks have been strong. The country remains an attractive investment destination, its stock market being the largest and most liquid in Africa.

Nigerian stocks have proven attractive to investors and Boko Haram attacks and new competition from North American shale oil have not changed anyone’s thinking so far. Most of the market activity is in the financial services sector lead by such firms as Access Capital and Guaranty Bank. Consumer goods companies such as Nigerian Brew have also showed strength. The naira actually gained a little during the quarter and remains within the narrow range that has prevailed all year.

In Ghana, currency weakness continues as the nation has sought IMF assistance to help get its accounts back toward balance. Trading activity is as usual dominated by the large consumer and financial service companies such as Fan Milk, UT Bank, and EcoBank. The stock market has weakened, reflecting caution among investors even though the economy is still growing. Could be a chance to get in the market cheap.

In fact, the current period is a possible second chance for international investors to invest in African assets at favorable prices when exchange rates make deals affordable and much of the bad news is already priced in.

 

 

 

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3 African Currencies – Outlook for Direct Investors

What follows is a brief analysis of the behavior of currencies in 3 important African economies.

GHANA CEDI
The persistent trade deficit that is the norm in Ghana seems to be increasing. That deficit contributes to price inflation and the two conditions combine to weaken the currency.
The Ghana Central Bank is fighting back by raising interest rates which are already high. The cedi is likely to remain weak until the general pattern of Ghanaian trade changes. One of the reasons for Ghana’s growing trade deficit is the increase in equipment imported to support oil production which has not yet reached the desired production levels. When oil production will grows to the point at which it reduces the need to import, and when Ghana develops additional sources of high value export earnings, then a lower trade deficit will become the norm.
Although investors should build currency weakness into their assessment of Ghanaian deals and projects, they should also build the ability to raise prices locally into financial forecasts, and consider Ghana as a possible export platform.

KENYA SHILLING
The shilling has fallen only about 1% in the last year and a half through March 2014. Since then it has stayed within a narrow range.
Kenya’s trade surplus is rising and so are international reserves. The Kenyan Central Bank has kept interest rates steady and treasury bills have fallen slightly. It seems a radical devaluation is not likely, though the shilling/dollar rate might move outside the 86-88 range where it has been for about the last 18 months.

NIGERIA NAIRA
Recent inflation has been falling on a quarter on quarter basis. Nigeria’s trade surplus increased during 2013. Interest rates held within a narrow band during 2013 and have fallen a bit in 2014. Naira has stayed between 155-165 for 2 years. While the naira could lose a little ground vs the dollar simply due to much lower US inflation, many investors consider it stable for investment purposes.

 

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Major African Stock Index and Exchange Rate Changes in Q1-2014

 

 

 

Advansa International follows exchange rates and stock market indexes for several emerging and frontier markets. Exchange rates and stock indexes are recorded on the last trading day of the week. The tables below show changes from the last trading day of the last full week of the quarter for several key markets in Africa.

Table 1 

 STOCK MARKET INDEX TRACKER 1ST QUARTER 2014

AFRICA

COUNTRY

1ST QUARTER PCT CHANGE

GHANA-Local Currency

11.37%

GHANA-US$

-0.80%

KENYA-Local Currency

1.76%

KENYA-US$

0.88%

NIGERIA-Local Currency

-4.72%

NIGERIA-US$

-7.45%

SOUTH AFRICA-Local Currency

0.48%

SOUTH AFRICA-US$

3.68%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-Local Currency

5.07%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-US$

4.88%

MSCI AFRICA-Local Currency

3.80%

MSCI AFRICA-US$

0.33%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-Local Currency

0.79%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-US$

-0.23%

Sources: Stock exchangewebsites, Financial Times, Advansa International data

 

Table 2

1ST QUARTER 2014 EXCHANGE RATE TRACKER

AFRICA

COUNTRY

1ST QTR PCT CHG

YTD

MAR PCT CHANGE

CFA AREA*

-0.18%

-0.18%

GHANA

-12.16%

-12.16%

KENYA

-0.88%

-0.88%

NIGERIA

-2.73%

-2.73%

SOUTH AFRICA

-1.12%

-1.12%

TANZANIA

-3.30%

-3.30%

UGANDA

-1.88%

-1.88%

Sources: Financial Times, Advansa International data

*Includes most French speaking countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Cote D’ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, Togo and others

2014 marks a change in investor sentiment towards the emerging and frontier markets. We see a shift from the mad rush into EMs of the past 3-4 years to people wondering if all the emerging market hype is a bit overblown. The announcement of tapering by the US Fed in 2013 was the trigger. In Africa the new outlook is manifest in continued currency weakness and retrenchment in several key stock indexes.

Every currency in our table lost ground in the first quarter. This is in spite of monetary tightening and rising interest rates across the board. Indeed, monetary policy in most of these markets has been fairly rational. On the fiscal side, however governments are finding it difficult to control spending. These are countries with young populations climbing out of poverty. They are at a developmental stage that demands rapid growth and are under tremendous political pressure to deliver social services and better infrastructure, all of which leads to deficits in the trade and fiscal accounts.

Ghana is a conspicuous example among this group. We see from the tables that Ghanaian stocks performed quite well while the currency was the weakest among prominent African economies. Many companies are performing well and investors anticipate future growth so stock prices are rising. However the trade benefits of the nascent oil sector have not materialized and have in fact generated additional imports as production ramps up. Thus the trade balance deteriorates. The resulting inflation on top of politically driven spending increases puts downward pressure on the cedi.

Yet it is these same characteristics that make the emerging markets such as Ghana attractive to investors. Among the larger markets that attract most of the trading volume, the currency issue is not as urgent. If this is a short term correction and if governments and investors don’t panic, then the long term trends will continue to imply growth and favorable investment outcomes.

 

 

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EMERGING MARKET INVESTING PART III – 5 KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR THE ENTERPRISE

For managers and entrepreneurs seeking private investment to fund an enterprise, the current environment is challenging, though still an improvement compared to prior decades. In Part III of our series, we offer 5 takeaways from 2013. These are concepts that are particularly appropriate to current market conditions and sensible in any period in the cycle.

1. Be mindful of the investing environment. We recall from Part I that private equity activity was down somewhat in 2013. Deals were down 7% and fundraising down 19% from the previous year. We know that the BRICS and other emerging economies have slowed down. So for the time being at least the emerging markets have lost some of their luster. All this has affected investor’s attitudes. Yet the long term outlook still looks good which is the message we stick to and the reason emerging economies still attract investor interest.

2. Owners and management should have a realistic understanding of the value of their enterprise, and where it fits into the spectrum of potential investments. They should also have thought through carefully their mission and objectives for the enterprise, for themselves, and for their communities.

3. Demonstrate the strength of the business model including evidence that the business or project can provide consistent cash flow. Examples include:

  • Signed contracts for current and future sales
  • For housing developments, a significant proportion of homes pre-sold either to residents or a large employer buying for its staff.
  • Offtake agreements for energy and power projects
  • Infrastructure projects that can collect tolls or user fees

4. Government support never hurts. Although most developing countries have improved business and political climates, they are still relatively difficult places to do business. It is therefore desirable to be on good terms with the relevant government bodies so. When everyone’s interests are aligned the red tape can be minimized.

The extent to which government backing is needed varies with the type of deal. For small startups it may not be necessary at all. In some cases the government is the customer then of course the company must be in a position to win a contract. In lieu of a contract, an MOU or government guarantee may be sufficient.

It should be noted that while government support is crucial, companies should avoid any activity that can be construed as corrupt as it will be an immediate turnoff to the investor. US investors are especially wary of running afoul of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Any investor not appropriately concerned is probably one to avoid.

5. Strength of the management team. Investors look for relevant experience, a level of professionalism and an understanding of international performance standards. Most important, management and founders/owners should be prepared to act in the interest of building the value of the enterprise.

Current market conditions in emerging market PE investing indicate a plateau in deal growth. In this environment founders/owners should pay special attention to those factors that attract good investors. We think this is a short term phenomenon—a sensible pullback from the emerging market fever of the past few years. However the broader demographic, economic and geopolitical trends will continue to favor emerging markets in the long run. We believe capital will flow towards companies that have strengthened their foundations during the current slowdown.

 

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EMERGING MARKET INVESTING PART II – 3 VALUE ENHANCEMENT STRATEGIES

 

This 2nd installment of our private equity series looks at how investors have succeeded this past year. While these tactics are well known by major private equity institutions we also consider the smaller investor and those investors new to emerging market investing. This investor could be a family office, or an accredited individual investor or investor group that prefers direct investing over the limited partner role. [We will use the term “small investor” to encompass all of thee groups realizing that they are not always small in dollar terms] The approach we advocate comes under the general heading of value enhancement or value creation.

Successful emerging market investors contribute more than money to the success of their portfolio companies. With their own resources and by marshaling expertise in their networks they can enhance the value of these companies leading to a more favorable outcome at exit. This is typical of the large PE firms whose senior staff often have operating as well as financial experience.

Although not all investors will have this kind of expertise on staff, those with strong networks can mimic the kind of value enhancement that is standard procedure at the large institutions. There are professionals with region or sector specific expertise that can deliver on an outsourced basis what they cannot do in house.

Here are three value enhancement strategies:

1. Upgrading business processes

 

The investors’ due diligence should include an assessment of the company’s strengths as well as any challenges that would impede its ability to implement its business strategy. Process improvements can occur in any of several areas:

 

  • Distribution

  • Strengthening the management team

  • accounting/finance/risk management

  • ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) upgrades such as social impact measurement using IRIS, implementing a diversity strategy, or improving environmental sustainability

 

Small investor’s approach: Engage advisors with background in: the portfolio company’s industry, accounting and/or finance, ESG reporting & measurement.

 

 

2. Help portfolio companies open new markets

 

Within their region – especially important in African countries where it makes sense to combine several small country markets into larger regional ones.

 

In investor’s home market. There are companies that assist international firms in entering and selling in the US.

 

Essential for companies with small domestic markets. Opening new markets is key for Caribbean companies who need to go outside their small markets in order to scale.

 

Small investor’s approach:

 

Use investor’s network to link portfolio company to export opportunities.

 

Engage business development & marketing firms that specialize in helping foreign firms enter the US market

 

 

3. Provide constructive influence to portfolio companies even with a minority share

 

Small investor’s approach:

 

Work with companies where entrepreneurs’ managers’ and investor’s interest are aligned. Use the due diligence period to assess the mindset and culture of management. Look for:

 

  • Management teams and shareholders with a long term outlook

  • Shareholders with skin in the game, cash or mortgageable real estate for example.

  • In some cases it is feasible and desirable to have a level of decision making authority written into the deal.

 

Create alliances with like minded shareholders.

 

These are some of the ways in which a small PE investor can be helpful to emerging market portfolio companies to the benefit of all stakeholders.

 

 

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