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Ashraf Esmael

Chief Development Officer

GroFin, All Africa


In both Africa and Middle East, the private sector is crucial in creating employment and delivering sustainable economic growth. SMEs contribute 65% to 80% to employment in developing economies, however they face many challenges and are plagued by high failure rates which inhibits their potential to develop and grow. By 2034, Africa is expected to have the world’s largest working-age population of a 1.1 billion workforce, consequently job-creation is vital in providing the youth and the workers in vulnerable forms of employment with opportunities to get out of poverty.

Job creation is the biggest challenge for governments across Africa and governments need to empower its population by the provision of jobs at scale. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have proven, in many instances and many regions, to be an essential driver of the economy. Today, the small and growing businesses (SGBs) at the base of the SME pyramids create around 80% of the region’s employment, establishing a new middle class and fuelling demand for new goods and services.

GroFin as a Fund Manager has played an industry-leading role in building knowledge and skills to Entrepreneurs through its Business Support thus having a significant impact through its SGB Fund adding economic value (more than US $500M) in countries it operates as at 31 December 2017, invested in 675 SMEs overall and in 113 specific female owned businesses thus building SMEs sustainability and creating 4,420 employment opportunities with 7,880 direct female jobs sustained.

GroFin’s latest SGB Fund has so far raised close to $100m since its inception in 2014, invested in more than 150 SMEs and sustained in excess of 12,000 direct jobs. The Fund is performing ahead of of plan and is now accelerating its investments across the 10 countries in which it operates across Africa in high impact sectors such as Health, Education, Agribusiness, Manufacturing and Key Services.

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