TA gives companies a (lion’s) head’s start

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Africa urgently needs better seeds. Local companies face many challenges in meeting this need. A new prize is now helping seven of them. The first phase of Technical Assistance is well underway.

Local seed companies from across Africa are currently receiving business advice from Nairobi-based consultants. That advice is part of their prize for winning the first Seeds for Impact Program (SIP*) competition. The prize includes financial and technical assistance to help the companies supply improved seed to more smallholders. Technical Assistance (TA) makes a crucial contribution to business sustainability.

“The advice on business-building forms the first phase of TA”, explains Sunil Hemdev from our Foundation. “We are delighted that all seven winners chose to benefit from this opportunity.” Each seed company was able to select those elements of TA that it felt most necessary.

Later phases of the TA will call on a wide range of professional talents, some very specific to the seed sector. Sunil intends soon to tap into the expertise of employees at Syngenta for help. For the initial advice on topics such as business strategy, SIP engaged the Nairobi office of Lion’s Head Global Partners (LHGP**).   

“Over the last 11 years we have gained an intimate knowledge of the pitfalls and opportunities that businesses face across Sub-Saharan Africa”, says Leonard Mathu, an LHGP Managing Director and Head of Nairobi Advisory. LHGP prides itself on not only providing strategic advice to businesses but also helping them to deliver on a chosen strategy.

The seven SIP winners share a passion for seed, but vary considerably in maturity, reach and goals. For LHGP, that means taking a tailored approach. “At each company, we started by speaking with management and detailed reviews of company documents”, Leonard explains. “Once aligned on priorities, we will work through the challenging aspects together to achieve high-quality outputs. Importantly, we will also transfer the process of arriving at solutions to the companies themselves. That empowers them to continue building on our cooperation after LHGP’s involvement ends.”

*SIP is implemented by the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) with funding from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA). The competition addresses challenges faced by smaller seed companies in their efforts to produce improved seed of staple crops, including publicly bred varieties. See our latest story 

** Lion’s Head is an Investment Bank operating across the frontier and emerging markets globally. It has two principal subsidiaries: LHGP Asset Management and Lion’s Head Global Partners. The latter focuses on financial advice and capital raising.