October 2021 Newsletter

by | Nov 2, 2021 | News

New cohort of social ventures soon to be announced

When Jochen and I founded Impacc almost two years ago, we wanted to rethink development aid and use the tools of business for social change. We wanted to create a movement that not only combats poverty in Africa, but also attracts and inspires like-minded people. We certainly haven’t achieved that yet, but there are always moments when I think: this is how it’s meant to be. 
One such moment was when Clarissa Meyer contacted us a few months ago after listening to a podcast I did. A consultant at the auditing and consulting company KPMG, she had planned a sabbatical and offered to support us free of charge. She ended up travelling across East Africa for a month together with our Head of Operations, Lynn, doing due diligence of the companies that made it to the last round of our recent call for entrepreneurs. They took a close look at the companies on site, met the founders, team, customers and suppliers, had the local production processes explained live on site and tested the products.
The journey took them
… to a lively market amongst chicken and negotiating customers in Aram, Siaya County, where local potato sellers were able to report on the price stability and quality of directly marketed products.
… to the Kenyan coast to see the 100% natural oil extraction process by sunlight in the coconut stronghold of Kaloleni.
… into a quarter of Nairobi where a start-up is establishing clothing collections in containers in order to locally revalue and upgrade textile waste.
Participants at first Impacc stove training
Over the next two or three weeks, we will work with African experts to select the top 5 to add to our portfolio. But we can already say that our hopes have been confirmed: there are great entrepreneurs with functioning business ideas who are creating sustainable jobs in areas of extreme poverty and who all have the same problem: they cannot get funding because they can’t get or repay traditional bank loans and are not profitable enough for investors.
We’ve got next year’s work cut out for us: raise funds for our new partners and help them turn their ideas into flourishing businesses and job engines. And even if Clarissa is now returning to her original job: her work (just like the pro bono support from Allianz Consulting in the initial selection of the ventures) has helped us identify, amongst countless applications, those few ideas that can really create markets for the poorest of the poor – because that’s what Impacc is all about.

Impacc goes digital

We have long wondered how we can finance our new approach to development aid without advertising with big children’s eyes and begging letters and without decades of history and consequent brand awareness. This question is at the center of our project with BCG Digital Ventures, the digital subsidiary of the Boston Consulting Group, who have been supporting us as winners of their Social Venture Program 2021 since September. Actually, “support” is probably the wrong word: this team of almost a dozen experts in product development, market research, design, digital marketing, programming etc. etc. have made our problem their challenge at a breathtaking pace. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much concentrated competence, energy, vision and pragmatism. 

Interestingly, our approach has changed completely in the last few weeks: we started with the aim of making donations so engaging as to introduce a new generation of supporters to donating. We soon realised that this market is too crowded and the entry barriers are too high.
Instead, we have identified a niche in the market that we will now focus on: addressing companies rather than individuals, i.e. a “business to business” approach. The advantage: we not only ask for donations, but can also offer something in return – namely tailor-made support that fits the focus and goals of the company, higher employee loyalty through a more purpose-driven company mission, etc.. And the companies in turn can give their employees the opportunity to donate. So here too, implementation will soon begin – watch this space
WashKing construction team

Further network support for WASHking

For our WASHKing venture (which sells bio toilets in Ghana), this kind of “business to business” support is already at work. Villeroy & Boch, European market leader in ceramic ware,  became aware of our work and spontaneously decided to support WASHKing with a large delivery of toilets and sinks after Corona made the prices of these imported goods cost-prohibitive. And the renowned design agency Peter Schmidt Group has provided Dieudonne in Accra with an international team of designers to jointly make the WASHKing brand attractive for the West African market. Even if there is no money flow in these cases, it is precisely this kind of cooperation on equal terms and the exchange of expertise between North and South that underlies our approach. 

And with that, many greetings from autumnal Hamburg, from where I am going to be leaving for Nairobi next week to finally work with our local team again. I look forward to being infected by the energy and optimism of Africa again.


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