Thelma Ekiyor, Bolaji Balogun and Phil Southwell agreed to bring together their combined track, effort and initiatives in SME and impact investing to form SME.NG, Nigeria's SME Impact Investment Platform.
Chapel Hill Denham had developed a Nigeria SME Fund to invest in women and youth-owned businesses with an accelerator accelerating, to support investee companies. Thelma had lauched the Ebi Fund to support bottom of the pyramid women-owned businesses, with an accelerator, "SheWorksHere" and was the convener of The Funding Pace an engagement forum to deepen the ecosystem. It made sense to align our efforts and build a robust, large-scale platform to fill the gaps in Nigeria's SME financing landscape.
Our immediate focus is in Nigeria where the high number of micro and small entrepreneurs, lead to its description as a "Nation of Shopkeepers".SMEs are underserved in the market, The founders being minded of the accessa to capital gap in SMEs in Nigeria and Africa, realised that access to finance alone, would not adequately address SMEs skills deficiencies. Accordingly, in building SheWorksHere- our all women accelerator, provides technical assistance; support and access to mentorship for SME entrepreneur, as they accesss financing
Within SMEs, women-owned and women-managed SMEs are most disadvantaged and under-served. This motivated our incorporation of "gender lens investing" in our approach
SME NG benefits from the partners capacity bringing together Chapel Hill Denham, Nigeria's leading alternatives asset manager with Funding Space's vast network in philanthropy, grant making and impacting investment.