......South African-Based Agri Academy To Showcase The Current Status Of Smes Working In Agriculture And Their Access To Finance
Brussels, Belgium, 20 th August 2015/ EMRC ( http://www.emrc.be ) and the Agri Academy ( http://www.agriacademy.co.za/ ) are partnering this year for the annual pan-African forum Africa Finance & Investment Forum , to be held in Cape Town, South Africa from 24th to 26th November 2015.
“Acquiring knowledge and best practices is essential for the Agri Academy, which is why we are partnering with AFIF this year,” Lina Keyter, Managing Director of Agri Academy explains in the run up to the forum. “We also want to highlight to the financial world that smallholder farmers can be potential clients and that if well organised and managed, both parties can and will benefit,” she adds.
AFIF 2015, entitled “Access to Finance & Entrepreneurship” is organized in collaboration with the European Investment Bank (EIB), DEG (German Development Finance Institution) and in partnership with ECOWAS-TEN, Pfizer, BlueCloud (United Kingdom) amongst others.
The theme throughout the forum is to explore the current and potential financial trends for Africa’s ‘missing middle’. This is an issue that goes to the core of Agri Academy’s work. “It remains very challenging to get successful access to development finance at an affordable rate and terms for small holder farmers in the commercial main stream. They are still perceived as high risk. This is precisely the reason for our model (clusters) developed with our farmers, explains Keyter. She recommends that, “By integrating lessons and support from the North and South the developing economies can be strengthened. Many investment opportunities exists in the South for partners from the North. This can be explored. ”
With an expected 300 people from all over the world, the three-day event will see North & South policymakers, financiers, bankers and private sector entrepreneurs discuss and find practical business solutions. AFIF regroups three key target groups: Entrepreneurs (project owners, CEO etc..),financial institutions (Banks) and investors interested in investing directly in banks or projects (DFIs/IFIs/Foundations).
The forum brings to the table financiers who are looking to find real projects, investment opportunities and long-term partnerships. There is a spirit to get things done which is demonstrated through the B2B sessions, tailor-made one-on-one sessions, which are organized throughout the forum. A pre-forum training workshop , will also offer participants professional coaching on how to set up a business plan and target the appropriate funding.
In parallel, the AFIF Entrepreneurship Award will also bring visibility to SMEs across Africa, providing an African existing small or medium business with a financial contribution and exposure/visibility for a project. The award winner will receive a US$ 5.000,00 cash prize, besides other benefits, such as free participation in the AFIF 2015, including the pre-conference training day, in addition to yearlong media support in and out of Africa.
“I think EMRC works in a way where at the end of the forum the objectives are met, which means gaining knowledge, learning from experts and networking to the max,” says Keyter, who has participated in past AFIF and expects similar outcomes this year.