Watch this space for news from Impacc
Impacc is an international social business NGO that creates green jobs for poor people in fragile states. We build and scale businesses where markets don’t yet work for the poorest. We find innovative business models that have the potential to create local, green jobs, often with a franchise approach. These businesses wouldn’t be able to compete on the open market because of market barriers such as lack of skills, social norms, conflict, etc. That’ s why we combine aid with revenue generation where markets fail to meet basic human needs. We link social investors with innovative social businesses to help them scale and have social impact. By this, we empower poor people and their communities to abolish poverty once and for all.
The team is growing
In the last Newsletter, I wrote about MakaPads from Uganda - the biodegradable sanitary pads made of papyrus that enable girls to go to school for the entire month. In the meantime, we have further ramped up operations on the ground. We have hired Deborah Muhuruzi as Sales Manager. Deborah comes from Coca-Cola where she has been Key Account Manager in Uganda since 2015, and she has convinced us with her passion to use the tools of business to drive social change. We believe she is the perfect candidate to reinvent the MakaPads business model from an NGO-donation model to a direct sales model in rural areas. We have also hired Mirembe Nnassuuna as interim CEO. A civil engineer with decades of experience, Mirembe had already been engaged in optimising production of the pads, and has now accepted the challenge to prepare the Joint Venture for registration until the end of the year while we do an extensive search for a long-term CEO to lead MakaPads into the future.
Recall that SIEMENS Foundation had agreed to finance the setting up of the MakaPads Joint Venture in Uganda. We are please that the Hans Neumann Foundation and DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung) have joined the consortium of financers with 50,000€, which will enable us to build two additional production franchises in Uganda, which in turn will create green jobs among youth club members in rural areas. Also on the financing side, we have been selected by PFAN (a UN-sponsored body that matches social enterprises with financing) to become part of their portfolio, and they will do fundraising for us. Our clay gasifier business in Ethiopia (ovens that allow poor people to earn money while cooking by producing charcoal during the cooking process) has moved on to the final stage of funding with Innovation Against Poverty, which would secure $150,000 and which would enable us to register our Joint Venture in Ethiopia.
New ventures on the horizon
We don't want to do too much, too fast - which is why we will only start two joint ventures this year so that we can devote enough attention to them to make them grow. We are, however, already in the process of broadening our portfolio for the future. To this end, Jochen has accepted a seat on the advisory board of WashKing Ghana, a maker of eco-friendly biodigester toilets for slums and urban areas. We believe that this ingeniously simple idea might have the potential to scale beyond Ghana, and we will use our advisory board connection to learn more about the business and its potential.
New fundraising tools
We finance our investments by blending different funding sources. The first step of the journey was the registration of Impacc as a charitable enterprise which allows us to accept donations and issue tax-exemption certificates. The next step of the journey is to shift the discourse from donations to investments. With great help from our legal partners, Freshfields, we have now found a way to accept private loans for which we can offer current market interest rates (albeit with the high risk that comes from investing in areas like ours, where markets by definition don't yet work). We hope that this will become an attractive "product" for those donors who want to do good but who want to keep control of their money, while perhaps even getting a small return. We will spend the next few months turning this good news into concrete loan proposals.
We are now getting serious about building our start-ups in Africa. Jochen has finally moved to Addis Abeba to be close to our ventures and further build our network amongst the African start-up community. As travel is still heavily restricted, we have moved to weekly virtual coaching of the MakaPads team to help them redefine their business model and do market testing. The focus for our clay gasifiers in Ethiopia is on registering a patent in Germany and Ethiopia, and on further negotiations with potential partners like SOS Children's Villages, who are interested to offer job opportunities to those young people who leave their villages. And we are moving ahead on developing the technical specifications for our digital platform with the pro bono help of Allianz Consultants. Watch this space for more in the next Newsletter.
All the best and stay safe, Till
First two ventures ready to go
My co-founder Jochen and I went to Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda right before the lockdown and negotiated Letters of Intent for the creation of Impacc Stoves Ltd. in Ethiopia and MakaPads impacc in Uganda. In Ethiopia, practical testing for the “Noah stoves” has been completed by inventor Marius Bierig and his team, and it confirms both the technical readiness of the product and an astonishing 90% willingness to buy among the target group. In Uganda, Paul Kimera, the manager of the company his late father set up that produces MakaPads, has agreed to establish a joint venture with us in order to sell MakaPads on the open market – as opposed to the old model of selling to charities who would then distribute them for free. Corona has slowed us down – we were meant to travel to Uganda this month to develop a marketing and sales plan for MakaPads, and to select a General Manager for our stove business in Ethiopia. But at least we made great progress in developing plans for our first two joint ventures which are now ready to be executed as soon as we can travel to the region again.
Anne Lawi joins the team
We are thrilled that we could win Anne Lawi to join our team. A Kenyan national, Anne has extensive experience in Business and Startup Development, having supported more than 300 startups and SMEs across Africa. She has designed and implemented more than 50 Pan African acceleration, incubation and innovation programs. On top of that, we could win Oli Brown as Strategic Adviser. Oli has been a long-time policy officer with UNEP in Kenya with a focus on the environment in fragile contexts. He brings environmental expertise to the team to make sure that the jobs we create are part of a green economy. Gianni Sommer is a businessman from Hamburg, and he has agreed to support us in the areas of project management and finance. He will co-host Impacc in his new office space in Hamburg and share some admin resources.
Money from SIEMENS
We are happy to report that SIEMENS Foundation has decided to support the start-up of our sanitary pads venture in Uganda. Together with our private donation fundraising, this will allow us to register our joint venture in Kampala as soon as the situation on the ground is more relaxed again. On top of that, we have been lucky to win the pro bono support of many firms that believe in our approach. Freshfields and White&Case are doing all the legal work for us. Dr. Röh & Partner and Berthold Gertler are doing our taxes and keeping our books, respectively. Award-winning design agency kw43 in Düsseldorf has developed a logo and visual identity for us. Naturally, they are all feeling the heat of the lockdown, and while this has meant we had to slow down our pace somewhat I am grateful that they are still with us. Thank you!
Located right in the heart of Hamburg‘s alternative and quirky “Schanzenviertel”, it is the new home to Impacc Germany. We did the renovations ourselves and got all our office furniture donated. Good deal!
Our logo (see above in the header) was developed by design agency, KW43. The idea: currencies have been invented to serve the people. We create a new currency that puts people back at the center - the Impacc. The logo symbolises our approach: use the tools of business for social change. You like it?
We spent the last few months setting up impacc as a charitable company in Germany and finding the right venture ideas in East Africa. With that done, our focus now is on institutional fundraising with proposals being written to organisations like GIZ, German Development Cooperation. We have put private donation fundraising on hold for the moment as we felt people had other things to worry about. But now that we seem to be getting back to a new kind of normal, we will ramp up fundraising efforts again from June/July onwards. But most importantly, we are looking forward to getting back in the field to help make our stoves in Ethiopia and our pads in Uganda a success.
All the best and stay safe, Till