Post: scaling up


Our investments in entrepreneurs, co-operatives and civil society organisations are so far working well. Touch wood that they continue to do so!

Last month we reported on the success of the businesses in Mumosho that we helped start 15 months ago, and more recently we have seen positive steps taken by CPNCK to export a fourth container of coffee and by Altech to distribute significantly more solar lamps than originally planned. We have also been able to start new projects including a second pharmacy and a second and third boulangerie.

The question now is whether going forward we should continue in the same mould by supporting ground-up social businesses that come to us, or whether we should develop a more strategic approach with ambitions to help scale some of the existing businesses.

Scaling will be tough. Kivu does not have a deep skill base in businesses management and the markets might not be sufficiently developed to support anything more than low-level entrepreneurialism. On the other hand it is clear that scaling is required if the region is to attract outside investors who will want to see proven businesses operating in well-structured markets with established processes.

The gap between the spread of social businesses we have today and the scaled businesses that will attract investors seems deep and wide. It will be quite a challenge to close the gap, but it is increasingly clear that this is what we must do.

Of course there is a balance. We will not stop supporting local initiatives that deliver real benefits albeit on a local scale. At the same time, we will be looking for the opportunity to make a step change and help build at least one of our investments into a role model that will convince investors that Kivu deserves their support.