By Wallace Mawire
African industrialist Adam Molai has launched a $1-million fund to provide entrepreneurs with capital to kickstart or expand their enterprises, in a massive boost for start-up businesses in Africa,it has been revealed.
The JUA [sunrise in KiSwahili] Kickstarter Fund will provide successful applicants with funds – to launch or grow their businesses – as well as mentoring and guidance.
Entrepreneurs from across Africa are invited to apply.
The entire application process is electronic and funds are expected to be disbursed to successful applicants within 12 weeks of their shortlisting, in a first for Africa.
It is reported that while SMMEs are indispensable for Africa’s economic recovery from Covid-19 devastation, raising start-up capital is one of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs on the continent, with banks requiring collateral that most of them do not have, studies show.
Another big challenge is the absence of mentoring.
Molai, who has successfully started several enterprises across Africa and whose TRT Investments had $125-million of assets under management as of end 2019, says a desire to inspire the Continent’s entrepreneurial generation was behind the creation of the fund.
“Without entrepreneurs, economies cannot grow and countries cannot advance. But African entrepreneurs unfortunately do not get the support they need to thrive for a myriad of reasons. Yet Africa is full of enterprising people.
“Wherever there is adversity, there is opportunity. Africa is rife with adversity, wherever you turn business prospects are in abundance. Entrepreneurs provide solutions to societal challenges, whilst creating space for the advancement of their communities. I feel that Africa is so much more open and it is full of so much more opportunity than you would find elsewhere. I want to do everything in my power to ensure that this potential is cultivated and unleashed.”
Molai says the inspiration to create the JUA FUND was to highlight the importance of African businesspeople, tangibly demonstrating their confidence in the talent and entrepreneurial capacity that is within the Continent.
“When people see Africans investing in our own environment, they feel more confident to invest alongside us. Confidence breeds confidence. And I am nothing if not confident in the future of Africa and in what we can collectively achieve,” he says.
“For decades we’ve looked to governments to create a conducive environment for entrepreneurship to thrive in Africa. Governments alone will not achieve this without entrepreneurs also investing into creating more entrepreneurs. For true success, there is need for this symbiotic approach buttressed by supportive policies,” adds Molai.
Molai says one of the critical differentiators of the fund will be how fast money is disbursed to successful applicants.
“Cash flow is essential to the survival of small and emerging businesses. Studies have shown that cash flow is one of the major reasons why small and emerging businesses fail within the first two to five years. So, we have committed to ensuring disbursement to successful applicants within 12 weeks,” he says.
Molai says he hopes the JUA FUND, as well as his and other successful entrepreneurs’ experiences, will inspire in young Africans the desire to start their own enterprises and not wait to seek out jobs.
“Unfortunately, too many young people today access opportunities to higher education, study for jobs, as youth unemployment continues to rise – producing a schooled, unskilled and unemployed generation. Others don’t pursue education or entrepreneurship because they think that becoming part of political patronage networks is an easier path to wealth.
“This attitude kills the inspiration, the desire to dream, create and build something out of very little resources or nothing. I believe this is one of the greatest threats to our continent’s economic growth ambitions, and I am hoping that the JUA FUND will play its part in transforming Africa’s entrepreneurial landscape,” says Molai.