EFTA was set up in 2003 with a view to increasing access to finance to entrepreneurs. In the subsequent years, EFTA has won numerous awards and is now expanding rapidly across Tanzania.
EFTA was originally set up in 2003 by Equity for Africa Limited, to manage their social investments in Tanzania in partnership with local management consulting company Bumaco Limited. The purpose was to create sustainable employment by enabling small businesses to access finance. EFTA financed its first lease in 2004, and over the following five years we invested a total of $465,000 across 75 investments in small businesses from our first branch in Moshi.
This pilot phase proved the business case for our core business. It also provided numerous learnings which were later encapsulated into our product design and operating procedures, such as the value of strong equipment supplier relationships. Based on this pilot phase, we introduced web-based software to enable accurate and timely tracking of investment performance and formal account statements.
Given the commercial potential and the large market size for small enterprise finance that was evident during this initial phase, Equity for Africa agreed to commercialise EFTA to invest for-profit capital. In November 2010, Equity for Africa was selected as a winner of the Group of 20’s SME Finance Challenge, presented by Baraka Obama at the Seoul Summit in South Korea. Following this success, Equity for Africa secured technical assistance support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to support the company’s institutional development, and first loss capital from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands through their development finance institution (FMO) in order to catalyse other investment into EFTA. This in turn enabled EFTA to raise a $5 million impact investment fund called “PEAK II”, which closed in 2012. As well as providing substantial capital to finance small enterprises in Tanzania on a broader scale, the PEAK II fund was also intended as a “bridge phase” to build EFTA into an established leasing company able to attract direct investment.
With new funding secured from catalytic investors, a new team was assembled. Madeleine Anderson and Juan Guardado came in as CEO and COO from McKinsey, while Coy Buckley, a former Senior Manager at KPMG, was recruited as CFO. They were supported by Israel Ndanshau, acting as branch manager. This enabled EFTA to build its core processes and to operationalise the fund. The PEAK II fund commenced investments in September 2012, running to September 2015. EFTA has grown its investment rate rapidly, and as of the end of 2014 we had committed the first $ 2 million in over 80 leases from the PEAK II fund and had reached a run-rate of over ten leases per month at an average size of $25,000.
As intended, the PEAK II fund has now successfully provided a bridge to an investable leasing company, and in November 2013 we announced a new $5m investment of equity and debt from AgDevCo directly into EFTA. This includes $2.5 million of equity, which will enable EFTA to grow into a national leasing company. It also includes $1.5 million of debt, which will finance larger agricultural leases that are integral to the implementation of this proposal, and will also finance some smaller leases in our core investment range ($10,000-60,000) following the end of the PEAK II investment period in September 2015.
In late 2014, EFTA won the African Enterprise Challenge Fund. EFTA was awarded USD 1 million to implement its Off-Taking Lease Financing scheme. The project allows EFTA to work with smallholders, a group usually out of EFTA’s core strategic targets. The location, lack of exposure to finance and weather risks of working with smallholders has prevented EFTA investing heavily in this key demographic. However, by working with buyers, EFTA is aiming to benefit over 3,000 smallholders through equipment lease financing. Individuals or cooperatives will gain access to equipment in the range of USD 3,000 to 10,000
Support to grow
EFTA is committed to helping its customers to grow their businesses. Funding for equipment helps, but so too do business skills, contacts and advice. In 2015, EFTA started roll out of its training programme to allow customers to gain knowledge on bookkeeping, financial management, staff management and health and safety at work. There are plans to develop this further to include marketing, business planning and product development. We share our contacts across industries to help you find markets for your goods and services or suppliers of equipment and other resources. We also hold regular networking events to connect you with other business people to share problems and solutions and to give you information on a wide range of business topics.
In 2015 EFTA progressed from a fund manager to a full lease financing institution and thus will need to raise substantially more debt in order to continue growing. On the basis of the success of the bridge phase, EFTA is looking to continue increase its geographic footprint across Tanzania and become the premier financial leasing institution focusing on SMEs in Tanzania, impacting economic growth, job creation and financial inclusion. Along with financing from AgDevCo, EFTA will be looking for additional finance to fund this growth with an aim to reach a portfolio of USD 50 million by 2020. We expect that the financing will be comprised of a blend of commercial and social investment. We are also looking to expand this business model to other countries in East Africa, and will be looking for outside finance to achieve these goals.