Kingsford Amano-Mpianim was looking for a way to manage his store’s financial records. Kingsford, who manages a tech store in Accra, Ghana, soon met Alanna Howell, an EWB Fellow working with Numida Technologies.

The Numida team has built a mobile app, TrackApp, that enables African entrepreneurs to do exactly what Kingsford was looking to do: improve their financial record-keeping.

“It’s just the perfect thing I needed,” Kingsford says. “My daily sales, I can record it; [the app] can give me reports on a daily basis. I recommend it for everyone out there.”

Numida was founded last year by longtime EWB member Mina Shahid, and was one of more than a dozen ventures  we supported in 2015. From a new kind of feed for dairy cows in rural Kenya to a culture of adaptive governance in Malawi, these ventures all share a common thread: they’re all bold, high-impact ventures that challenge the status quo and have the potential to change the systems that hold thousands in poverty.

To change those systems, we’ve focused our efforts on two portfolios: small and growing business, and adaptable public services. That means supporting ventures that can enable entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa to access the financing, business development and range of other services they need to succeed, sustainably, and at scale; and ones that make public services more responsive to the needs of underserved citizens in a cost-effective, sustainable way.

A Ghanaian entrepreneur navigates TrackApp by Numida Technologies.
Esther (right) from LishaBora Hydroponics shows off the venture's lush feed to a Kenyan dairy farmer.
Two Malawi-based EWB ventures, WASH Catalysts and WASH Coordination, are working to improve rural water services by coordinating efforts by local district water offices and NGOs.

Two of our Malawi-based ventures, WASH Catalysts and WASH Coordination, are the cornerstone of the adaptable public services portfolio. To create long-lasting, meaningful change in rural water supply, our staff and volunteers are developing a network of district water offices who actively innovate the way they provide services within their meagre resources, and are setting up government to better coordinate activities with NGOs. In 2015, WASH Catalysts launched a national advocacy campaign to improve financing mechanisms to these district-level water offices, while WASH Coordination was a key part of a sector-wide review, where they helped participants set strategic goals for Malawi’s water sector in 2016.

To ensure that we’re making the right investments, we formed an Investment Committee to provide oversight and guidance for our Small and Growing Business Portfolio. The committee is made up of Kola Masha, Managing Director of Doreo Partners, a venture capital firm in Nigeria; Mike Quinn, a former EWBer and CEO of Zoona, an African mobile finance platform; Shirley Speakman, a partner at Cycle Capital, a Canadian venture capital fund focused on clean tech; Sara Taylorinvestment manager from the CDC Group; and our CEO, Boris MartinThis committee held its inaugural meeting late last year, and will guide us through many years.

The ventures we supported in 2015, in both the Adaptable Public Services and Small and Growing Business portfolios, are:

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RonanOChanging Livelihoods: EWB’s Ventures in 2015