RENEW Strategies

What Have We Been Up To?

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Joshua Weissburg
| September 24, 2009

RENEW will soon be rolling out beta versions of web 2.0 tools for both investors and businesses.

Soon investors will be able to:

  • Search or browse through profiles of Kenyan, Ugandan, Rwandan and other East African businesses in a new online marketplace.
  • Map your geographic and sector-focused investment strategy to specific SMEs, connecting you or your organization directly to owners and staff.
  • Contact RENEW directly with request for information and help making investment decision.

Entrepreneurs in emerging economies will be able to:

  • Apply for placement on RENEW’s virtual Marketplace.
  • Upload their business plan, financial statement, investment proposal, and management team CVs via a secure application for consideration.
  • If selected, have a investment profile done on their business completed by RENEW’s team of professional consultants.
  • Visit our website and gain access to tools created specifically to address your needs and make your business more attractive to U.S.-based investors and business partners.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Why these tools, and why now?

Many of you - friends and colleagues hard at work figuring out how to deploy capital to greater effect in Africa and other frontier economies - have been following us for the past year or so on this site. We’ve sat down with some of you in coffee shops and conference rooms from Nairobi, Kigali and Kampala to D.C., Austin, New York and Denver, and many spots in between. Over the course of these travels (not to mention a financial crisis that shook developed and emerging economies alike and prompted much reflection on the uses of capital) our team has learned some key things about what the SME investments need to become a viable asset class.

Over the past several months, our team has been refining that learning by creating practical tools that we think are necessary to move SME investment forward. RENEW started out with a very simple idea: for businesses anywhere, connectivity = growth. Isolation = stagnation. Nowhere is this more true than Africa, where small and medium-sized businesses lack connections to investors, suppliers and customers - and lack the systems and data to build such connections. When RENEW launched its sourcing, due diligence and management consulting services last year, we did so to address the obstacles U.S.-based investors and businesses face finding, connecting to and managing their relationships with African businesses.

Our strategy has not changed. Connectivity still equals growth, and RENEW will continue to build and provide on-the-ground expertise and personal relationships essential to doing business. But the landscape is changing - the possibilities for different kinds of connections are proliferating and evolving rapidly. This summer, high-speed Internet cables landed across Africa. Taken together with the remarkable growth in hosted (online) data services, RENEW sees a tremendous opportunity to facilitate a great many more connections between U.S. investors and businesses and African SMEs - and improve the quality of the information exchanged.

So the RENEW team spent the last couple of months developing tools that we think can help address the bottlenecks faced by financial institutions (African and U.S.-based), business owners, and development organizations. We would welcome feedback from you, too. Once the new site is up, please let us know what you think at renew@renewstrategies.com. Enjoy!