Bridges for Enterprise – President’s Address
Whether you are an alumni of Bridges for Enterprise, a mentor, a student, or a social entrepreneur, I wish to thank you for having been involved with us in one way or another. From now on, we will be writing such newsletters to you three times a year, hoping to keep you updated about our work, and to invite you to join us in particular events or initiatives in the future.
In the new year and under new leadership, we have continued to scale up our impact and expand our footprint. Internally, we have a greater focus in training and developing our members, having organised an inspiring talk by Patrick Mcginnis on his experiences as a venture capitalist and entrepreneur and an upcoming corporate finance workshop provided by Accuracy, a financial consulting firm in London. We are also in discussion with potential partners who could support our student teams. Externally, we actively strive to improve on the quality of our pro-bono services for social entrepreneurs. We recently optimised our engagement frameworks and developed strategies to reach a greater audience in the developing world. Another encouraging development is that we have set up BfE Network, which will help us forge a tighter community of individuals passionate about making social impact, an integral part of our mission. Please read on for more details.
President, Bridges for Enterprise 2017
In the last quarter of 2016, the Start-up Recruitment team worked closely with Smart Villages to select the finalists of the West Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge. We eventually decided on 5 start-ups who demonstrated a clear commitment to creating social impact, the potential to be financially profitable, and the initiative and drive to implement their ideas. After completing our programme, all 5 will be in the running to pitch for USD5000 prize capital, provided by Smart Villages. We also interviewed a large number of African start-ups who applied independently to the BfE programme. We were humbled to learn of the difficulties that enterprising individuals have to face on a daily basis, often for things easily taken for granted like basic political - or even monetary - stability in a given territory. In the new year, the Start-up Recruitment team is aiming to expand its outreach to Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. We are actively looking out for partnerships with innovation hubs, start-up accelerators and grant-awarding organisations. We believe that BfE's goals complement those of organisations looking to support social impact start-ups across the developing world and are excited to see where these efforts will lead.
In October 2016, 5 start-ups began their 3 month consulting engagement under the BfE programme. A notable client is Migo, an organic farm based in Kenya, that worked with Cambridge Consulting Network (CCN) who gave them advice on their pricing strategy and developed an investor proposal with them. They have since then moved on to the finance advisory stage in which our team will work with them to reach an investor ready stage. Other clients we successfully matched to consulting societies include: Vitabite (Ethiopia) and Du’Anyam (Indonesia) with 180DC Hong Kong University, Bempu Health (India) with Cognoscere, Givo (HK) with 180DC Indiana and Jogiv (India) with 180DC Monash. The Consulting team has launched consulting engagements for the 13 start-ups recruited in 2016. 180DC remains our strongest partner, with branches in London (UK), Riga (Latvia), Indiana (US) and Bond (Australia) working on our start-ups’ most pressing business needs, not to mention student consulting groups from Hong Kong University, Sciences Po Paris and Imperial College London. Each engagement will also have a professional consultant mentoring the project.
In the past four months, our finance advisory team engaged with 7 start-ups (all of which having completed their consulting engagements with us in early 2016), helping them to become investor ready and to approach different funding sources. For example, we helped our client Biofood Tech prepare for the Toyota Foundation grant, and researched on potential support from the Africa Development Bank and various angel investors. The finance engagements have added great value to our clients and our team wishes them all the best as they complete this final stage of our programme. More recently, we have been focused on developing and refining our financial consulting strategy. We have developed a six part framework that will guide our engagements and will help us focus on: 1) creating accurate and responsible valuation metrics for our companies, and 2) identifying promising leads in the relevant angel investor and venture capital networks. Additionally, we have begun working with Migo, a “green” start-up based in Kenya that engages in organic farming activity on a commercial basis and with Givo, a start-up based in Hong Kong that provides a platform for people to connect in the world of charitable giving.
Bridges for Enterprise Network
BfE Network which was launched in October 2016 has attracted over 30 mentors from prestigious finance and consulting firms. Our mentors are based in numerous locations such UK, US, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, and are passionate about using their corporate skills to give back to society. We would like to thank the following finance mentors for their contributions (start-up in brackets): Minsung (Biofood Tech, Tanzania), Anthony (Retronix, Rwanda), Alex (PatientsEngage, Singapore), Chris (Intellemind, India), Zaryaan (Gravilog, Palestinian Territories), Julian (Chemolex, Kenya) and Jeremy (Crozzborderz, Singapore). We would also like to express our gratitude to our consulting mentor Tag (Vitabite, Ethiopia).
Click HERE for the link to pdf version of the newsletter.