Kua Ventures, an impact investment fund based in Nairobi, is a different kind of impact investor. Their approach to investing into locally-owned small businesses has elicited a lot of interest within the ecosystem. Madalena Santos, Director of Operations at Kua Ventures, and Herbert Njoroge of Ashitiva Advocates recently spoke to Craig Sisterson.
“Working with Kua Ventures, a client whose concerns run far broader than the financial bottom line has been game changing and led to positive change for all parties,” said Herbert Njoroge from Ashitiva Advocates LLP, one of the leading law firms in Kenya.
“It was an eye-opener for us interacting with an organisation that is not only concerned about the interests of their clients, but one that also wants to have the investee get a fair piece of their cake in the larger scheme of things,” Njoroge commented. “Normally organisations such as Kua Ventures like to make an investment and mitigate risks as much as possible, but Kua Ventures ensures the documentation and transaction information is as balanced as possible, and that it is fair on both sides.”
Established in 2020 to support local enterprises that are creating change in Kenya, Kua Ventures finances small and growing businesses and provides customised coaching to strengthen them so as to grow their bottom lines, thereby creating new jobs and helping local communities to flourish.
“By being at the intersection between commercial capital and donations, impact investments can unlock a tremendous amount of money to be directed to causes and ideas that can have a lasting positive impact in the world,” said Madalena Santos, Director of Operations for Kua Ventures.
Kua Ventures’ investment offering to SMEs is between KES 5 million and KES 10 million over a period of two to five years, along with tailored coaching and a support network. Kua Ventures invests in locally-owned and founded businesses, ensuring a direct impact in local economies while also developing the local leadership and catalytic local investment, and multiplying social impact.
Ashitiva has been there from the start, supporting Kua Ventures with business advisory, a market study to determine the best legal structure for the fund’s operations in Kenya, and in reviewing founding documents.
“Ashitiva Advocates LLP has been instrumental in shaping Kua Ventures into what it is today,” Santos commented, noting the firm not only provided legal expertise, but also critical market and business environment insights and risk assessments. “We seek to surround ourselves with partners who share the same values in seeing enterprises thrive, and who have a drive to promote economic justice, measurable social impact and a mutual relationship that transcends financial return for both parties. It’s not easy to find a legal partner that checks all these boxes.”
Njoroge noted that the law firm has learned much thanks to its relationship with the impact investor. Agreements have been shortened and simplified, and values, relationships and a personal touch emphasised.
“We’ve challenged the status quo of legal counsel by always aiming to put documents in front of our clients that protect both parties and not just us,” Santos explained.
Ashitiva Advocates LLP’s senior partner, Nelson Ashitiva, has also mentored some of Kua Ventures’ investees at an entrepreneurial workshop organised by Kua Ventures, and Njoroge says the firm hopes to be more involved in the future in coaching businesses within Kua Ventures’ portfolio on legal matters.
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