Local Entrepreneurship Consultant
Acumen is looking for a consultant with 8+ years of experience related to grant-management strategy development, research, entrepreneurial ecosystems, and investing – ideally with networks in the East Africa social enterprise sphere. This role is remote, based in East Africa.
We’re investors. A different kind of investor. We invest in people and companies working to solve problems for people living in poverty… essential products and services that bring more opportunities, more choices to millions. To date, Acumen has positively impacted 300 million lives by investing $132M in 136 innovative, early-stage companies in Africa, Latin America, South Asia, and the United States. But investing clearly isn’t just about capital. It’s about investing in people and we’ve been doing it for years. Connecting with emerging leaders in their own countries and engaging them in extended collective dialogue on what constitutes a “good society”, moral inquiry, and skill building.
East African social entrepreneurs have good ideas, experience, and network, but they don’t have access to the evolving investor focus areas and approaches. At the same time, investors looking for promising ventures are not always attuned to the unique realities and challenges local entrepreneurs face when trying to grow their businesses.
There are also some capacities that East African entrepreneurs need resources to develop, such as better understanding of their customers, operational models, profitability assumptions, key business drivers, capital requirements, and the ability to sell that vision with compelling financial and operational information to funders and partners. Last, many need introduction to networks that could help them grow their business.
Likewise, investors in East Africa social enterprises need to know where to start if they are to adapt and begin exploring new approaches for sourcing pipeline and new instruments for investing that better fit the needs of local entrepreneurs.
We’re looking for someone to help us build a bridge, close the skills and information gap, and build a pipeline of investee companies across the region.
This project is about understanding the needs of locally-owned energy and agricultural entrepreneurs in East Africa, and guiding investors toward new approaches based on our understanding of needs.
The scope of work and expected deliverables:
- Undertake a lit review of research on needs of early-stage East African entrepreneurs and barriers to investment capital (initial list of research references provided by Acumen).
- Develop hypotheses on needs, roadblocks, capital needs. Develop ideas to address those needs or get around those barriers (e.g., is there a new investor approach? Is there a capacity gap? ). Test hypotheses and preliminary solution sets with local entrepreneurs, and impact investors
- Build a roadmap for what investors should do differently to meet these needs in EA in the energy and agriculture sectors. The roadmap should answer questions like:
- How can investors do valuations on these businesses?
- What kind of investment capital do locally-owned enterprises need?
- What are the revenue models that investors should be looking for?
- What kind of creative financial instruments might best meet the needs of locally-owned enterprises? SAFEs, convertible notes, returnable grants, etc.
- Armed with a roadmap, build a pipeline for Acumen of early-stage, locally-run companies in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda) detailing gaps.
- Recommend what additional capacity building, technical assistance, training or mentoring companies need to build internal and investor readiness.
- Take the road map “on the road”:
- Develop case studies and workshop modules that can be shared more broadly with other local entrepreneurs, investors, accelerators, incubators.
- Partner with Acumen to co-convene investors interested in investing in locally-owned social enterprises.
Qualifications and Skills
- 8+ years experience. Undergraduate degree required. Graduate degree preferred
- Familiarity with the social enterprise and impact investing sectors, entrepreneurial ecosystems, strategy development
- Preliminary understanding of the energy and agriculture space across East Africa
- Have networks in the East Africa social enterprise sphere.
- Research toward an end:
- experience in designing and conducting primary interviews with key stakeholders to understand needs and approaches
- Ability to scan the literature and pull out the implications. This is not an academic exercise, this is intended to influence the movement of capital.
- Solid operational skills including problem solving and project management skills, including ability to work and deliver projects independently, proactively and under pressure
- Effectively collaborates with and across teams, seeks, and provides constructive feedback.
- Exceptional relationship and interpersonal skills: courtesy, tact, patience and strong teamwork
- Authorized to work in an East African Country.
This role will be remote, based in East Africa
MODE OF APPLICATION
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Acumen was incorporated on April 1, 2001, with seed capital from the Rockefeller Foundation, Cisco Systems Foundation and three individual philanthropists. Our desire was to transform the world of philanthropy by looking at all human beings as members of a single, global community where everyone had the opportunity to build a life of dignity. The organization would invest "Patient Capital,” capital that bridges the gap between the efficiency and scale of market-based approaches and the social impact of pure philanthropy, in entrepreneurs bringing sustainable solutions to big problems of poverty.