Things are beginning to fall into place for us, but it hasn’t always been an easy ride. Today, I want to write about both successes and drawbacks.

Venture News

Our Makapads Joint Venture in Uganda that produces sanitary pads made from papyrus has finally been incorporated as a limited company in Kampala. And our Noah Stove training facility has opened its doors in March to train potential franchisees in the art of making gasifiers from clay, thereby creating jobs and helping poor families earn some money while cooking. Here you see the first cohort at work:­

What sounds like smooth sailing has actually been a pretty painful process. Take MakaPads: we had money in the bank waiting to be transferred in Autumn and all negotiations were pretty much done later in the year. And then the registration odyssey started with legal hoop after legal hoop to jump through. When we were close to sending off all documentation, the Ugandan President – fearing a young opponent in the presidential elections – decided to shut down the country’s internet. Just now, months’ later, everything is back on track and the firm is registered, ready to do business.

Or Impacc Stoves : we had been planning to move our production facilities to our new training center site for almost a year, but Corona stopped all activities for months and then internal hiccups held us up even more. Again, only now have we finally succeeded and the new entity is up and running.­

The reason I am sharing all this is because I believe you deserve to know not only what works, but also what doesn’t yet. And also because it reminds us that -if you want to build businesses in areas where markets don’t yet work for the poorest – there is a reason why things are sometimes tough. That’s why what we offer is called „patient capital“. But I must admit my own patience has been tested more than once in the process.

The team is growing, again

What has been an unmitigated pleasure, however, is to see our young team grow. Not a Newsletter passes without me introducing new additions, and this time is no different.

We are proud and happy to welcome Martin Golücke as an Impacc partner. Martin has a long and distinguished career in business, most recently as CFO of German retail giant, Lidl. He has been engaged with us since last year, taking charge of the legal and financial set-up of our African ventures. We are glad that he has now formalised his engagement by becoming a shareholder. I just hope he realised beforehand that, as a non-profit, our shares are worthless 😀. But it’s the feeling of joint ownership that counts. Another great addition is Sonja Sparla who has joined us as CFO. It’s amazing how quickly she has put structure and clarity into our reporting, and now that housekeeping is almost in order we look forward to working with her on strategic finance and impact reporting, her real areas of passion.

And finally we welcome Lidewij Rouhof who started this week and is based in Kampala, Uganda, as a Social Venture Builder. A fellow UWC graduate, she combines empathy and passion for ending period poverty with a keen drive to improve businesses.
Welcome on board, everyone – and thank you for devoting your talents and energy to our cause.

New communication

We have relaunched our website. We now go much more in-depth on our approach and will begin to share more and more content from our ventures in Africa. I am particularly pleased that we now have a much more professional appearance than the hand-made version that I cobbled together last year. And it’s been a great showcase how we begin working together as a team across borders and across functions.

And finally, we were lucky to get the support of top creatives and advertising experts, Wolfgang Schäfer and Will Matthews, who created a wonderful advertising campaign for us – again, mostly for free. We believe it really captures the spirit of Impacc and we are grateful to media house, Ströer, for letting us air it for free in train stations and city centers in major German cities soon. Here’s a little sneak peek:

What’s next?

In the next newsletter, we will share the results of our “call for entrepreneurs” with which we will expand our portfolio of ventures. We will also report on our exciting project with BCG Digital Venture to create a new fundraising platform which is due to start soon. And, knowing us, our team will have grown again by the time you hear from me again.

­Until then, stay safe!