RENEW Strategies

Checking in on the Accelerating Business Growth Project

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Justin Reesor
| October 1, 2018


In 2016, RENEW signed a collaboration agreement with the development arm of the Canadian federal government, Global Affairs Canada, for a project known as Accelerating Business Growth (ABG). The ABG Project aims to support high potential, responsible small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Ethiopia so they can attract and efficiently use finance to scale up, enabling them to play a stronger role in the Ethiopian economy. The project addresses the gap in the capital markets in Ethiopia and many other countries in Africa, called the “missing middle”. This missing middle limits the ability of SMEs to access finance to grow their businesses and create sustainable jobs for women and men.

The project’s ultimate outcome is to increase employment and generate income opportunities for men, women and young adults from Ethiopia’s small and medium enterprises sector and related value chains. Specifically, RENEW is aiming to support a total of 5,000 jobs and help Ethiopian SMEs attract $52.5M (CAD) of financing to help scale their companies by the time the project concludes in May 2021. A sampling of other outcomes and results expected from the ABG Project are:

  • 500 SMEs trained on finance within the PE500 program
  • An annual sales growth rate increase of 10% achieved by companies who participate in The Exec’s Program
  • Ongoing technical assistance provided to 50 companies (SMEs) and 20 resource providers in Ethiopia
  • Impact Angel Network (IAN) grown to 175 individuals and families

For more information on ABG, read the blog we published in November of 2016 shortly after the project launch.

Through the first years of the project, RENEW is pleased to report that strong progress has been made on the targets. The following list highlights some of our achievements through May 2018:

  • 314 business owners have been trained on private equity under the PE500 program.
  • Provided legal support and closed investments in two SMEs: one in a logistics company (Roadrunner Technology Solutions LLC) and one in a global restaurant brand (FC Specialty Restaurant PLC).
  • Graduated the first cohort of the The Exec’s Program, and launched the second cohort with a total of 17 executives enrolled, representing 14 SMEs of which nine are women-led.
  • Graduated cohort one of the CFO100 program, and launched the second cohort with a total of 33 finance professionals enrolled, representing 33 SMEs from which 10 are women.
  • Grew the Impact Angel Network (IAN) by 36 members.
  • Helped accelerator companies attract more than 10M CAD of financing from private sources.
  • Provided on-going business growth support and technical assistance (TA) for companies that are supporting 3,021 jobs in Ethiopia, 57% of which are held by women.
  • Launched Chigign ‘Tobiya, in partnership with Tonetor Multimedia, aimed at raising awareness and building interest in entrepreneurship locally in Ethiopia. The TV series is broadcast on national television (FANA TV), and involves entrepreneurs looking to raise capital by pitching their ideas to a panel including RENEW and three other local angel investors.
  • Launched the ‘The Women in Finance Series’ aimed at empowering and inspiring women finance professionals in Ethiopia. Held two sessions; one in November 2017, in partnership with Zemen Bank with the theme "How to communicate and influence decision making" and the second edition with Enat Bank in March 2018.
  • Analyzed the ABG’s 2017 Exec’s Program results against the Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI) survey showing companies that have gone through the Exec’s Program are outperforming the benchmarks in the following areas: job growth, job creation, revenue growth, and capital securing.

The ABG 2017 Exec’s Program reported the creation of 8.7 jobs year-over-year, whereas GALI companies reported only 1.33 jobs. Nearly 90% of the companies in The Exec’s Program increased their staff numbers after joining, compared to the GALI survey results of 70% on the accelerated ventures based in Sub-Saharan Africa. On average, companies that went through the Exec’s Program increased their revenues by $391,832 while the accelerated companies surveyed in the GALI report, increased their revenues on average by $22,321.

At RENEW, we’re proud of the progress made to date on the ABG Project and will continue working to meet or exceed all of the project’s targets while making a significant impact on Ethiopia’s private sector. This blended finance arrangement with the Canadian Government is an innovative model that is truly helping bridge the financing gap in Ethiopia’s economy. Thank you to Canada for the continued support and for helping RENEW scale private equity investing and education in Ethiopia.


The Accelerating Business Growth (ABG) program is undertaken with support from the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada. The Impact Angel Network (IAN) is the largest North American-based angel network for Africa. RENEW is an impact investment firm working in Ethiopia that manages the IAN and provides professional investment advisory and consulting services in support of its investments. To find out more about RENEW or the IAN, contact us at renew@renewstrategies.com, follow us on Twitter @RENEWLLC or find us on Instagram @impactangelnetwork. Be sure to check out our upcoming events, including our upcoming Econ-Tourism Trip.