Small and Medium Enterprises in Africa are set to gain from $1 million funding investment from the Impact investment firm Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P). The funding will see the African Management Initiative (AMI), a Pan-African workplace learning company run a Series of training and support expansion of its practical and scalable approach to skills development for African SMEs. An additional funding worth $ 1.8 million from AHL Ventures and the Argidius Foundation will also see a good number of smes gaining from the AMI training platform.
“Skills development is one of the most pressing needs in Africa,” said AMI’s Co -Founder and CEO, Rebecca Harrison. “AMI has a practical and scalable solution that is already helping to transform organisations and careers across the continent. We’re looking forward to expanding our impact with this investment.”
AMI is pioneering blended learning that is tailored for the needs of African markets, combining a web and mobile app, experiential workshops and structured on-the-job practice. The investment will support AMI’s growth into new markets, and additional development of its innovative mobile learning platform, methodology and content.
“We believe that AMI has developed an approach to workplace learning that can truly transform organisations across the continent.” said AMI’s Co-Founder and Chairman, Jonathan Cook. “It is gratifying to receive this expression of confidence in AMI from I&P. It will enable AMI to reach new people and new places with tools that transform performance.”
According to AHL Venture’s Senior Partner, Ben Peterson: “We’re thrilled to be supporting AMI’s next phase of growth. There is a tremendous market need for improved business skills across Africa; with this investment round AMI will meet more of this need, starting what we believe will be a large scale-up process.”
The fund I&P Afrique Entrepreneurs 2 (IPAE) is a US$86 million fund looking to invest in small and medium sized businesses in Africa that combine economic profitability with societal impact. AHL Venture Partners led AMI’s seed round, and provided an additional contribution to the most recent round, and Argidius Foundation made its second investment into AMI.
AMI is among the first companies to receive funds made from I&P’s IPAE 2 fund. Other firms that received investment include the Pan-African flavour house, Afribon Group and the Senegalese fintech startup CoinAfrique.
“More and more we meet companies such as AMI aiming for multi-country expansion. Besides, African companies are increasingly integrating new technologies into their service offering or business model,” said Jérémy Hajdenberg, Chief Investment Officer at I&P.
African SMEs should adopt online presence
A recent research done by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) found that small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who have invested in digital technologies showed more growth than those that did not. In addition, further studies found that technology improved management, information delivery, collaboration and SME agility. Globally the SME is considered key to igniting economic growth and transformation. In South Africa, the role of the SME has never been more crucial.
“A rich online presence provides the SME with the tools to connect, collaborate and engage with customers across multiple platforms and broader markets,” report states.
The report further reveals that those SMEs who exist solely in the physical space, an online presence is key to unlocking customer engagement and fresh opportunity.
In Africa, SMEs face unique challenges with speed to market, building a brand from local to global, customer responsiveness and economic uncertainty. These are further impacted by digital transformation and disruption as businesses rapidly move from the physical to the digital space.
Report states that: “The SME needs to reinvent and redefine, in the retail sector in Africa there is already a significant shift from physical stores to online warehouses that deliver on the customer demands of convenience and accessibility. This level of disruption is not exclusive to retail and is set to impact all sectors, business sizes and markets.”
A digital presence is critical to brand building and customer engagement and without it, the SME runs the risk of losing market share and customers.
Its predicted that with the right online hosting partner, the SME can open up new revenue streams, develop collaborative tools, and build an online value chain that is beautifully positioned to meet the future marketplace.