Alternative Sources of Finance for Uganda: Accion Venture Lab

Disclaimer

I am not an agent or connected to this entity. The information provided below is independent as based on my research and experience. Whilst I have taken steps to ensure the accuracy of the information presented here, there can be no guarantee that it will remain accurate.

Basic information

Fund’s target client: “Late start-ups”.

Sector focus: Financial services particularly those using emerging technology for example mobile money and “branchless” banking, social media and cloud computing.

Amounts provided: $100,000 – $300,000

Funding type: Venture capital (Means, rather than providing a loan, the fund takes a % of shares in the target company, may also do convertible debt that is a loan that can be turned into shares.)

Key criteria:

  • Innovative models from companies that are developing game changing technologies and disruptive business models that will provide financial services to people at the base of the pyramid(BOP); and
  • Need not have significant revenue but should be post research and development, full time team in place and ideally a pilot/prototype in the market.

Further information:

Search online for the fund information or contact the East Africa contact: [email protected]

Who is behind the fund?

Accion is a private nonprofit organization that is a pioneer in micro-finance. It was founded in 1961.

What is the application process like?

The fund was recently launched in April 2012 and so there is no clear information available but the expectation of the process is:

1. Send an initial email to Nicky Khaki the East Africa contact.

2. submission of an executive summary to highlight the opportunity and the financing need.

3. Submission of detailed plan, due diligence and a site visit to ensure the team is in place.

What are my view/tips for success in accessing the capital?

1. Impress:The venture lab is an “experimental project” and so is seeking the “Next big thing”. I believe that the business plan/executive summary you submit should show how you are embracing new/emerging technology to solve Uganda’s problems. It should not be conservative but should balance the futuristic view with the practical aspects.

2. Market research. As the team is keen for technology that has been tested and a model starting to work in the market, you need to demonstrate evidence of testing in the Ugandan market.

3. Scalability.Considering the work Accion does worldwide in the field of micro-finance, a good model will need to show that it can be replicated, cheaply, preferably in other emerging economies and for the benefit of the “poorest of the poor” the focus of a lot of micro-finance.

Whilst I provide the above tips, you should be aware that some basic key information applies to all applications. This includes aspects like the plan including an executive summary, containing no errors, being in an easy to read format and the like.

Otherwise, best of luck.

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