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Resonance helped a woman-owned commodities trading business in West Africa acquire over 4.5 million in new investments to open an agricultural processing plant.

Challenge

In West Africa, there are many woman-owned commodities trading businesses that primarily focused on processing agricultural products. One company owner saw a tremendous growth opportunity in both the industrial use and human consumption markets. Unfortunately, accessing capital in West Africa is a challenge, and the entrepreneur had difficulty meeting the demands of banks and potential investors.

This is a common challenge, where investors often see promising opportunities in frontier markets but are reluctant to invest because of perceived risks, lack of proper preparation, and disproportionately high transaction costs due to smaller transaction volumes. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs in these markets lack the capacity to develop business plans that meet investor requirements and unlock the capital that their companies need to grow. This leads to the so-called “missing middle” problem: companies that are unable to access the capital they need, leaving value on the table for investors and impeding the growth of frontier market economies.

Approach

By offering frontier market entrepreneurs access to quality transaction services, donors help level the playing field, enabling them to access an expanding range of investors. In doing so, we are also attracting capital off the sidelines that will build momentum and contribute to closing the missing middle in Burkina Faso and other frontier markets.

The processing company’s owner received transaction support from Resonance, thanks to generous support from USAID’s West Africa Trade Hub.  Our investment team helped her navigate and assemble the details needed to satisfy the investor’s requirements, which included developing a new financial model and business plan, conducting an environmental impact assessment and market research, and obtaining a letter of intent from a large buyer to substantiate demand for her facility’s production.

Outcomes

Providing quality transaction advisory requires time to understand the business, build trust with the entrepreneur, and navigate the investment process. The company secured over $4.5 million in new investments from two investors for a new processing plant and critical working capital. When completed in 2018, the new plant is expected to generate about 150 jobs and increase incomes for thousands of smallholder agricultural workers ― mostly women who work in the fields.

Construction underway on the new West African processing facility (Resonance, April 2017).