By RAPHAEL KIOKO
Lyimmo Magani is one smart entrepreneur. After starting L’s Food Lab in 2019, he ran into difficulty and could not expand his business. Mr Magani approached several investors and financiers, but nothing positive came out of it besides negative feedback. Others never responded to his fundraising proposals. At this point he had to out think.
For a man whose dream was to acquire a 15% market share, create more jobs, and impact society through charitable programs, it was not time to throw in the towel. He embarked on a journey that would sooner than later make his business attractive to funders and investors.
One day, while browsing online with an aim of getting potential solutions to his start-up, which goes by the brand name Adisia, he came across Invest In Africa’s (IIA), an organization that runs investor readiness program.
He enrolled for the program, and that was the beginning of good tidings for his venture – in the business of manufacturing consumable products that include seasoning spices and sauces such as chilly, ketchup, and mayonnaise.
“I went out there to look for funds to jump-start the growth of my business, but I could not convince any investor or financier because my business was not viable for funding at the time,” says Magani.
Lack of access to finance is one of the main challenges curtailing the growth of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). While formality, which mainly touches on possession of formal business registration documents, is a requirement to access finance, most MSMEs operate within the informal sector and do not qualify because of the failure to meet the minimum funding requirements that most investors and financiers are keen on. This means that tiny players have continued to struggle with inadequate access to finance, causing most of them to coil, and die within the first few years of their inception.
“Through the IIA investor readiness program, I learned how I could effectively govern and manage my business, and the importance of rolling out structures like audited accounts, and financial projections,” he says
IIA is a not-for-profit organization mainly focused on empowering MSMEs to grow and scale by improving their access to skills, finance, and markets. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, it designed a business resilience initiative that included an MSME investor readiness program. The 8-month training and finance facilitation program was aimed at ensuring that small players are business compliant. Three months after graduating from the program, Magani was able to make good progress.
Firstly, he had complied with the requisite business requirement, and was ripe to access growth finance from investors and mainstream lenders. Through the program, he developed a professional funding pitch deck that has kicked off promising funding conversations.
Secondly, his accounts are audited and up to date. He is also able to predict his revenue and profit margins. He has further developed a financing model which has enabled him to identify financial gaps thereby making it easy to mitigate actions for his business.
Thirdly, he applied the business governance lessons he learned – he restructured his business model, necessitating him to employ more staff to fill the human resource gap that gave him sleepless nights in the past. Today, he says, the business has clear structures, and he is on the right path as far as achieving growth milestones is concerned.
“Right now, we can pitch correctly for funding, and I am confident that we will expand to manufacturing more than ten different products before the end of this year. I also believe that we will improve our market share to more than 10% in the Kenyan Market within two years,” Magani says.