The impact investing group Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P) started in 2016 a partnership with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to launch an innovative acceleration program in Niger, Burkina Faso and Senegal. The alliance aims to bring high potential start-ups and Small Growing Businesses (SGBs) to an “investment ready status”, with the underlying objective of building a sustainable entrepreneurial support ecosystem in these financially underserved countries.
Program portfolio companies
Program Sponsor: USAID
The program is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), specifically through the Partnering To Accelerate Entrepreneurship (PACE) initiative.
USAID (United States Agency for International Development) is the United States government agency working to reduce poverty and promote long-term, equitable economic growth. Through PACE, USAID aims to direct private sector investment flows to start-up businesses and to identify innovative and sustainable models for supporting these businesses - unlocking the potential of thousands of promising start-ups around the world.
The message of Rob Schneider, Division Chief, U.S. Global Development Lab, USAID
"At the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), we know that small and growing businesses (SGBs) are critical drivers of economic growth but are often unable to access the capital they need. They require small investments—between $50,000 and $500,000—but the high costs of due diligence, lack of cash flow, and limited collateral often prevent traditional financial institutions from providing early- and seed-stage funding.
Along with many others in this field, we believe that mobilizing local capital and local talent may be an answer to this problem. Together, USAID and I&P are responding to one of the biggest challenges in impact investing—risky early- and seed-stage investments—by creating a model for SGB support to more effectively find and connect local private capital with promising SGBs and investment opportunities.
Through the U.S. Global Development Lab’s Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship (PACE) Initiative, we are partnering to support three locally managed and locally funded investment funds, which will accelerate growth for 52 SGBs through seed funding, coaching, and networking and unlock $5.6 million in investments in West Africa.
In this new partnership model, these investment funds provide pre-investment services that promising entrepreneurs need, such as financial record keeping and business plan support. These investment-ready SGBs will be better prepared to receive capital from I&P’s three indigenous funds—Teranga Capital, Sinergi Niger, and Sinergi Burkina in Sénégal, Niger, and Burkina Faso respectively—which are better situated to address investment challenges than their international counterparts. Their on-the-ground fund managers have a nuanced understanding of the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem and their hands-on approach deploys local capital efficiently.
Together, as we support SGBs receiving local private capital managed by local fund managers, I&P and USAID are paving the way for sustainable early-stage investment models, building a market for SGB investment-readiness services in West Africa, and unlocking the potential of promising enterprises for greater growth in the region."
The partnership is coordinated by Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P) and is implemented by Sinergi Niger, Sinergi Burkina and Teranga Capital, three in-country impact funds sponsored by I&P.
Sinergi Niger, Sinergi Burkina and Teranga Capital invest in start-ups, early-stage and small growing businesses with a strong growth and impact potential and that have financing needs between 40,000 and 400,000 USD. Together they have already financed 10 SGBs, and thanks to the program they plan to make 20+ new investments in the next 3 years.