GroFin More Than Money

Jurie Willemse, CEO, GroFin

jurie_willemse_article.jpg"From the start, GroFin and Shell Foundation shared the same vision to bring an integrated solution of risk finance and business support to start-up and growing businesses in emerging markets – and to do so in a way that is scaleable, replicable and sustainable.

It's been a challenging journey that we embarked on together. Shell Foundation took a calculated risk on a viable idea and committed significant value-adding resources to help develop our model. We have always been entirely aligned on our long-term objectives and we are starting to see extraordinary impact. They have participated in developing strategy, actively assisted in a range of activities and tasks to reach our goals – and contributed much needed financial, intellectual and brand capital.

GroFin’s mission is not an easy one, and we have been trying to build on the successes and learning from the failures. Shell Foundation has walked with us every step of the way, adding considerable value from which we have benefitted immensely."

Chris West, Former Director, Shell Foundation

“When I met Jurie, back in 2001, we had identified a market failure underpinning the “missing middle” but hadn’t uncovered any viable solutions to tackle this at scale.

Jurie was an entrepreneur himself, with a track-record in providing business skills and finance to energy-related SMEs in Africa. We clicked immediately, recognising similar challenges that we had both faced in the past, and began brainstorming new business ideas to provide these services at scale.

We’ve formed a close partnership over the last decade and have been able to support GroFin to demonstrate the viability of their model in a number of different ways. We provided strategic advice and business skills to co-develop and adapt their business model, patient grant funding ($12m) to build core capacity, and anchor investments ($15m evergreen capital into the GroFin Africa Fund) to enable GroFin to leverage funding from social and commercial investors (including CDC, FMO, IFC, EIB, Norfund and the African Development Bank).

We participate heavily in the governance of these funds and directly manage the deployment of a restricted donation of $33 million from Shell to support GroFin’s work in the Middle East and North Africa.”

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