AGRF Deal Room 2021: Strengthening the SME enabling system
This session focused on building the SME ecosystem by strengthening the connection between AGRF and other programs providing technical assistance to agri-SMEs.
Panelists include: Melanie Machingawuta, Team Lead, Casa Beatrice Githinji, Access to finance manager, ISF Advisors Richard Midikira, Richard Midikira, Technical Assistance Manager, ACELI Africa Grace Mwai, Deputy Chief of Party, USAID’s Kenya Investment Mechanism Songbae Lee, Ag-finance Team Lead, USAID (Moderator).
Key questions and talking points:
- How can existing agri-SME programs leverage the deal room as well as the post dealroom activities?
- How can the deal room leverage existing agri-SME programs?
Melanie Machingawuta is a Programme Director at TechnoServe and the Team Lead for the £8M CASA Technical Assistance Facility (TAF) – a UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) funded initiative aiming to make the commercial and development case for investing in agribusinesses that source produce from smallholder farmers in Africa and Asia. The CASA TAF deploys technical assistance mechanisms alongside impact investors to strengthen upstream supply chains, drive commercial returns and generate meaningful development impact around these agribusiness investments. Melanie previously supported management of the African Agriculture Fund (AAF) TAF from 2016-2018, where she was Programme Director between 2017-2018. Since joining TechnoServe in 2014, Melanie has been primarily focused on the design and implementation of inclusive business models that drive both impact and commercial value, particularly in the African agriculture sector. She brings ~10 years’ experience in facilitating inclusive economic development, holds a Master’s in Development from the London School of Economics and is based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Beatrice manages a regional project for ISF around financial inclusion for agro-processors in East Africa. She comes to ISF with 15 years of experience in the Kenyan and East African financial sector, including roles at Barclays Kenya, Chase Bank, Root Capital, and Equity Bank. In addition to her experience in the financial industry, Beatrice specializes in agricultural finance as well as general credit analysis, risk monitoring, client relationship management, environmental and social risk assessment, and agribusiness lending policy, design, and implementation. Beatrice has an MBA and a BA in Economics and Business Studies both from Kenyatta University and has undertaken a program in management at Strathmore and University of Pretoria. She also has a certificate in financial statement analysis from the American Banking Association and has undertaken various courses in agriculture finance. Beatrice is a certified member of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, UK.
Richard envisions an Africa where a strong enabling environment empowers SMEs to succeed and improve the livelihoods of millions. With a background in management consulting at Deloitte and Ernst & Young, he spent seven years working with enterprises across East & Central Africa to improve risk management and governance and align both with business strategy. He also consulted for two years on a project for the International Trade Centre (ITC) to increase trade and investment flows between India and East Africa. His current role at Aceli includes managing technical assistance to agricultural SMEs.
Songbae, who moderates this panel, joined RFS on August 17, 2020 as the ag finance team lead where he will be helping with USAID efforts to mobilize private capital for agricultural finance. Most recently, he spent eight years at Calvert Impact Capital, a non-profit impact investing debt fund where he was responsible for end-to-end deal origination, credit assessment, and ongoing portfolio monitoring. Previously, he worked for Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein in their global energy investment banking group in New York City, Banc of America Securities in their real estate investment banking group in San Francisco, and Mercy Corps in their microfinance institution in Kyrgyzstan. He holds an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and a B.S. from the University of Vermont.
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