More seeds through bridge loan

By Till Wahnbaeck
April 30, 2022

Of course, we have not yet collected the €1 million in investment donations planned for this year. On the other hand, our ventures are urgently waiting for money to grow further. When I was in Nairobi last week, we found a good way to fund a venture anyway. I had written before about Marbi Agric, which offers credit-financed seeds to smallholder farmers and combines this with insurance packages and group loans to minimize risk for all involved. Bernadette Mwanza’s business is already growing profitably (last year they grew from 3,000 to 5,000 customers), and she has received her first commercial loans – but without collateral, 10,000 euros is always the limit. So we decided to give her an interest-free loan of 50,000 euros over six months so that she can start the new planting period. If we are successful with our fundraising for her in the meantime, we will convert the loan into an equity investment. If not, she pays it back in the fall, and we use it to pay our team’s salaries. There remains a risk of default, of course, but Bernadette has proven in recent years that she delivers what she promises.

The beauty of our approach, I think, is that different elements feed into each other. Right after Bernadette, I met Oliver Obwana, the CEO of Full Spoon: they produce peanut butter in mini sizes and distribute it in slums to contribute to healthy nutrition (peanuts contain about 50% protein). The demand for these mini-sizes is huge: when my colleague Lynn and I were in the Kimera slum of Nairobi in November, 7 out of 10 kiosk owners wanted to stock the product immediately. The only thing is, Oliver has a cash flow problem and can only sell for cash; the kiosk owners, on the other hand, take one to two weeks to sell and then pay for the products. We agreed with Full Spoon on a small test budget of 1,000 euros, which they can use to offer longer payment terms. If this indeed leads to more kiosks listing the product, Marbi Agric comes into play: they supply Full Spoon with peanuts and can wait a little longer for their money in the future thanks to our credit, which in turn helps Full Spoon to relieve their customers and thus build distribution.
By the way, this example shows that every donation helps: already with 1,000 Euro we can help a company to develop and test a new distribution strategy. If you are convinced: We are happy about every donation (see donation button at the top)!

About Till Wahnbaeck

Till Wahnbaeck
Ex-CEO of Welthungerhilfe and private sector General Manager, champion of innovation. Till ran both for profit companies and a global NGO and has always strived to bridge the gap between the social and the private sector. As global CEO of Welthungerhilfe (a German food- and nutrition-security NGO with 2,500 staff in 40 countries and a budget of 250mio$), he championed innovation and impact. Previously, as Marketing, Sales and Innovation Director for consumer goods company, Procter & Gamble, he built innovation methods and processes to rejuvenate P&G’s global salon portfolio.

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