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Video of the Turkana Catalyst Initiative

Summary

The Lundin Foundation’s ‘Turkana Catalyst Initiative’ is a business accelerator and seed financing programme that works as a feeder fund for social impact investors: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bceRZzZ2WM. This project to support local businesses in Turkana County, northern Kenya, was funded through DFID’s ‘Kenya Extractives Programme’ (K-EXPRO) and managed by Oxford Policy Management. 

Background to the initiative 

Like elsewhere in Kenya, in Turkana County small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the dominant economic agents. However, here they face significant challenges and as a result Turkana is characterised by a small and undiversified formal local economy, and extremely low levels of financial penetration, especially outside of the county capital, Lodwar. But with the expansion of commercial interests in oil in Turkana, in particular the construction phase for ‘Project Oil Kenya’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sd0y2QcFGIg), there is some potential for direct and indirect supply chain opportunities. 

In such a challenging, frontier, business environment innovative approaches to local economic development are needed and K-EXPRO support fast-tracked this through the Turkana Catalyst Initiative (TCI), a business accelerator and seed financing program tailored to grow high potential businesses (including social enterprises) operating within or from Turkana County.

The Lundin Foundation, with K-EXPRO support during 2018, trialed a three-pronged approach that is now fully up and running with future funding secured. It drew conceptual and practical experience from ‘impact investing’ with a particular focus on:

  • Supporting the growth of local SMEs and social enterprises by developing their business management practices through ‘action learning’;
  • Facilitating business linkages within and beyond Turkana and not just oil; and
  • Providing SMEs with access to finance to build up experience and evidence of a repayment record, but on concessional terms.

These three are all essential mechanisms, individually and together, to support local Turkana SMEs to become more reliable and competitive suppliers, and better prepared for all economic opportunities in the county and beyond.

Crucially, the TCI aims to reinforce a ‘private equity’ ethos, explicitly working as a ‘feeder fund’ to Lundin Foundation’s $1.5m social impact fund - Northern Kenya Growth Capital (NKGC)

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