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Village Enterprise raises $3.5m to invest into entrepreneurs in Kenya & Uganda

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Village Enterprise has raised $3.5m of working capital to provide first-time entrepreneurs who live in extreme poverty with seed capital, training and mentoring to start more than 4,600 small sustainable businesses in rural Kenya and Uganda by 2020.

Over 760 million people still live in extreme poverty, over half of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa despite decades of development work and billions of dollars expended on the continent and globally. Village Enterprise aims to improve the income levels for these new business owners with this fund.

“Eliminating poverty is a global priority, but funding is limited,” said Village Enterprise’s CEO Dianne Calvi. “Mobilizing private capital is critical if we are to achieve the United Nation’s #1 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ending extreme poverty by 2030.”

Village Enterprise and Instiglio are partnering with private impact investors and the United States Agency for International Development’s Development Innovation Ventures (USAID DIV) and the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) on the Village Enterprise Development Impact Bond.

Some of nine impact investors, include the Delta Fund, the Laidir Foundation, the Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund, the Bridges Impact Foundation and several individual investors, are providing the working capital for Village Enterprise to equip 13,800 rural Africans who currently live on less than US $1.90 a day with the resources to become successful entrepreneurs.

Read Also: Rwanda, South Africa sign mega dollar deals with China

Outcome funders USAID and DFID will pay Village Enterprise and its investors based on results achieved rather than the traditional model of payment upon program delivery. This pay-for-success model guarantees that donor money will be linked to measurable increases in consumption and net assets (as a proxy for income). This DIB leverages a new and innovative ‘outcomes fund’ hosted by Global Development incubator (GDI), which will hold all funds in escrow and consolidate all contracting, cashflow and processing through a single efficient and scalable platform.

The Bridges Impact Foundation through its philanthropic arm Bridges Fund Management supports a range of solutions to pressing societal challenges, including 27 social impact bonds (SIBs), about half of the total commissioned in the U.K. to date.

Brian and Katie Boland are investing US $1 million in this DIB through their Delta Fund. Village Enterprise’s program includes targeting, training, mentoring, seed capital in the form of cash grants, and saving groups. Village Enterprise was selected by Innovations for Poverty Action through a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the program that demonstrated increases in assets and consumption, as well as subjective well-being and nutrition, among program participants.

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Ethiopia might devalue currency to secure IMF loan

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Ethiopia may need to decide on a big currency devaluation soon to get a rescue loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In December, East Africa’s most populous country went bankrupt, making it the third African country in as many years to not pay its debts. The country already had high inflation.

Ethiopia hasn’t gotten any money from the IMF since 2020, and its last loan deal with the fund fell through in 2021. In late 2022, the federal government and a rebellious regional authority made a deal to end a cold war that had been going on for two years.

Although the IMF has not said that currency reform is necessary for its backing, it however maintained that progress was made during its most recent visit. However, the Fund usually favours flexible, market-determined exchange rates. Ethiopia has requested $3.5 billion of support from the IMF, sources told Reuters last year.

The birr currently trades at between 117 and 120 per dollar on the black market, which is more than double the official rate of about 56.7. This is because there is a constant lack of foreign cash and the exchange rate is tightly controlled.

“It seems that the Ethiopian authorities have found accepting the demands of the IMF hard,” said Abdulmenan Mohammed, an Ethiopian economic analyst based in Britain.

“The Ethiopian authorities are worried about the devaluation of the birr, (which) would have serious negative economic repercussions, including soaring inflation… and surging foreign currency denominated debts in terms of birr.”

Early in 2021, Ethiopia asked the G20’s Common Framework to restructure its debt. This was set up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to include new creditor countries like China and India. Other African countries like Tunisia and Zambia also suffered a similar fate with their foreign debt at the time.

As of the end of March, Ethiopia’s foreign debt totals $28.2 billion. According to Boston University’s Chinese Loans to Africa Database, the country’s biggest bilateral creditor, China, agreed to stop collecting its debts in August 2023. From 2006 to 2022, China promised to give the country $14 billion.

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Nigerian govt to save N1.5tn from removal of electricity subsidy

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The Nigerian government says a recent increase in the price of electricity for Band A customers to N1.5tn means it could save more this year.

The government also said that about 2.5 million meters would be installed this year to close the metering gap across the country and make sure that people pay the right amount for electricity.

The Federal Ministry of Power, in a document made public by Bolaji Tunji, who is the media assistant to the power minister, on Wednesday evening said that the recent tariff change would save the country N1.5tn.

It said, “FG (Federal Government) to save N1.5tn with tariff adjustment. FG still subsidising Bands below A. Pricing change will help improve liquidity to the NESI (Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry).

“Discos (power distribution companies) will be sanctioned for supplying less than 20 hours to Band A consumers.”

Electrical consumers in the Band A group, which makes up about 15% of the country’s 12.82 million power users, no longer get any subsidies on their bills. Those affected would now pay N225 per kilowatt-hour, which is about 240% more than the old rate of N68/kWh.

In reaction, manufacturers and organized labour spoke out against the tariff increase that about 1.9 million consumers will have to pay. The increase was passed and announced by the Federal Government on April 3, 2024.

For the past few months, the terrible state of the electricity supply has gotten even worse because gas producers to gas-fired thermal power plants have stopped sending gas to those plants because they owe $1.3 billion in debt.

Meanwhile, the argument around subsidies of essential products and services in Africa remains active with some analysts positing that the earning power and GDP of most countries in the continent puncture the likely gains of a no-subsidy regime, given the lack of economic means by a large percentage of the public.

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