Meaningful Business (MB): Can you tell us a bit about the priority focus areas for your investments, and why you selected them
Victor Ndiege (VN): Our investments focus on early growth stage SMEs providing climate smart solutions in underserved markets in Kenya. These markets, like rural, peri urban and humanitarian settlements, are home to vulnerable communities and are most exposed to the effects of climate change. They need to be supported with market based mechanisms to build long lasting climate resilience.
In Kenya, and other parts of Africa, SMEs are the authentic drivers of development and transformation for middle and low income earners, who form the majority of any socio economic ecosystem. For example, in Kenya, there are over 7 million SMEs which provide 80% of all employment opportunities and contribute to 35% of GDP. SMEs have inherent versatility, being required to adapt to the effects of climate change, an ever changing business environment, and evolving market risks, yet are still perceived as high risk. By providing risk capital to SMEs, Kenya Climate Ventures (KCV) is enhancing their bankability and business growth, helping to ramp up climate resilience, improve livelihoods and develop market systems.
MB: How are your portfolio companies tackling these issues and what impact are they having?
VN: KCV’s portfolio companies provide various climate smart solutions in the market, such as: affordable irrigations systems from smallholder farmers; reliable markets leading to increased incomes for smallholder farmers and suppliers of farm inputs within various agri value chains; increased access to clean energy and affordable off-grid electricity for domestic, commercial and industrial use; increased access to clean and energy efficient heating and cooking solutions for domestic, commercial and industrial use; and increased access to micro loans for household energy asset financing and agribusiness.
Our portfolio companies have benefited over 250,000 people; provided business opportunities to 290 micro and small enterprises; supported 240 institutions and enterprises to access energy efficient cooking and heating solutions; mitigated over 320,000 tons of CO2 emissions; installed 6.4 MW of clean, off-grid energy; recycled an estimated 3 million tonnes of agricultural waste; created and sustained over 10,000 decent jobs; and leveraged US$ 9.1 million of follow-on capital.
MB: What is your biggest challenge right now and what support do you need?
VN: The limited sources of capital available to us. We are an early stage impact investor and therefore are perceived as high risk by many capital providers. We are raising US$20 million to double our portfolio investments and impact.
MB: What is your ambition for the future of your fund?
VN: We project to grow our fund to US$50 million by 2028, with a portfolio of 60 enterprises, contributing to socio economic growth and climate resilience of 1 million people in rural, peri urban and humanitarian markets in East and Southern Africa.
MB: How are you measuring success?
VN: Measures of KCV’s success include delivering consistent value to investors, building market resilient portfolio investments and developing climate resilient communities.
MB: Tell us a mistake you’ve learned from
VN: Earlier in my career, I thought an excellent business plan was all that was needed for success and I engaged with many enterprises that had flawless plans. After several failures, I now know a committed entrepreneur – backed by a team is a key ingredient for business success.
MB: How do you spend your time away from work?
VN: Reading and watching documentaries with family.
MB: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
VN: Two days (short stay) is not enough for lasting footprints.
MB: What is something you wish you were better at?
MB: What is the one book everyone should read?
Discover the other leaders recognised on the 2022 MB100, for their work combining profit and purpose to help achieve the United Nations Global Goals, here.