Portfolio Partner Profile
SANAD Fund For MSME
The SANAD Fund for MSME is an impact investment fund dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa. By providing much-needed access to financial resources, SANAD, which means “support” in Arabic, aims to help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the region fulfil their role as engines of inclusive economic growth, job creation, and prosperity.
Preserving and generating jobs in the Middle East and North Africa is quite unthinkable without MSMEs. This sector accounts for nearly two-thirds of GDP and almost three-quarters of employment in the region. Since it was established in 2011, SANAD has partnered with over 30 local financial institutions to enable cumulative funding of more than USD 635 million to MSMEs throughout the MENA region.
Calvert Impact Capital has been working with Finance in Motion, the Germany-based fund manager of SANAD Fund for MSME, since 2017. Finance in Motion values our financing because it has allowed them to grow their base of private investors, says their Managing Director Sylvia Wisniwski. “Calvert Impact Capital’s financing has had a positive impact on our ability to raise additional capital for the funds we manage, particularly from US investors. Their support has had a signalling effect, as many of our other investors see Calvert’s financing as a stamp of approval given their reputation as a robust and serious impact investor. Calvert Impact Capital has a name that travels.”
Featured Impact Story
Supporting womenpreneurs through the SANAD Entrepreneur Academy
Labor markets are rapidly being transformed by robotics, artificial intelligence, and other digital advancements. And according to the World Economic Forum, the jobs under the greatest threat of automation and displacement are disproportionately held by women.
To address this issue and encourage women’s engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics driven businesses, the SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy launched a project together with the non-profit Womenpreneur Initiative, to draw attention and funds to women-led tech enterprises in the Middle East and North Africa – a first of its kind! The Womenpreneur Tour aimed not only to showcase the region’s female digital talents, but also to discover the challenges they face and explore possible solutions.
From October to December 2019, the Womenpreneur Tour van traveled across Morocco, Tunisia, and Jordan to interview women business leaders in technology and bring together bright minds to explore the state of the Arabic startup ecosystem. All in all, the Womenpreneur Tour conducted 43 interviews with startup founders, established business owners, representatives of the local financial industry, policymakers, and experts across the three countries. These one-on-one discussions were supplemented by an industry event in each country, in which financial system players met to identify ways to facilitate investment in women in the form of capital, resources, and advocacy.
Now, the Womenpreneur Tour is rolling out its findings in the form of video documentaries and an informational campaign. Watch the van’s journey in the Womenpreneur Tour video above, and discover what the crew learned about promoting female entrepreneurship in the Womenpreneur Tour results video.
Hardworking business owners
Micro and small business owners are the keys to employment and income generation in many parts of Egypt. However, many entrepreneurs are not able to obtain the financial support needed to make their businesses thrive, as they cannot meet the high collateral requirements to obtain a business loan from large financial service providers.
To bridge this gap and expand access to finance for these entrepreneurs, Sandah was established in 2018 as a joint venture between the Arab African international bank (70%) and the SANAD Fund for MSME (30%), and plays a pivotal role in reaching the unbanked and contributing to alleviating poverty and providing employment opportunities, especially across the Upper Egypt governorates.
One happy customer of Sandah, is Ahmed Zayan and his father who run a small business selling dairy products. Starting with just one cow, Ahmed and his family decided to make cheese from milk. As a family who enjoy producing local products for their community in El Minya, the father and son were determined to make their business flourish. However, there were many obstacles to overcome, including acquiring loans to invest in equipment. Fortunately, Ahmed and his father approached Sandah, and were able to acquire a loan to purchase production equipment, including tin storage canisters.
SANAD is proud to have helped create a landmark institution that specifically targets this important community, providing the resources for hardworking business owners, like Ahmed and his father, to grow and succeed.
Inspiring other women to start businesses
The SANAD Fund for MSME has been a partner of the Microfund for Women (MFW) since 2015, working together with the institution to expand financial inclusion to Jordan’s underbanked entrepreneurs. As the largest microfinance institution in the country, MFW’s extensive branch network facilitates access to financing for even remote clients. Over 90% of MFW’s clients are women.
One such entrepreneur is Bara’a al-Thawra, the founder of Tabeetna Organic Beauty Products. In 2013, shortly after graduating, al-Thawra established her company with just 20 dinars – a little under 30 US dollars. The ingredients for her formulas came from local farmers and the family kitchen was her laboratory. Soon, al-Thawra was selling her products through local shops and salons as well as social media.
Within three years, the Tabeetna brand had earned the trust of a growing clientele. In order to expand production and scale up, however, al-Thawra needed a loan. Approaching commercial banks proved unsuccessful. “They said it was too risky,” she explains, “and, unfortunately, gender still plays a role here.” It was through MFW that the entrepreneur was able to access the financing she needed to invest in a stock of high-quality ingredients and hire additional staff. She says of the experience with SANAD’s investee: “MFW is also opening doors for Tabeetna at bazaars and exhibitions, where I get to share my experiences and inspire other women to start a business, too.”
Photo courtesy of Finance in Motion.