Investors and entrepreneurs in Africa increasingly find each other online. Zambia based startup company Zamgoat recently secured a 20K investment deal from the US based accelerator Fledge, who found them via the online VC4Africa platform. We had a chance to catch up with both the entrepreneur and the investor. Below is the story of entrepreneur Paul Nyambe. Also read the investor’s story.
How can goats contribute to alleviating poverty in Zambia? That’s the question entrepreneur Paul Nyambe asked when he started the company Zamgoat in 2012.
The demand for goat meat is on the rise both in Zambia and neighboring countries, especially among urban populations. After beef, goat is now the second most popular meat in Zambia. While beef is a commercial product, sold in supermarkets, goat processing and distribution is often still traditional and informal. This changed when Paul Nyambe founded Zamgoat as a first local commercial-scale aggregator, processor and distributor of goat meat and other related products, including goat leather.
According to Worldbank data 75% of Zambians live in extreme poverty. Over half of all Zambians live in rural areas, with 7 million being smallholder farmers. Keeping goats is a common practice, but mostly as a symbol of prestige, not for income. With Zamgoat entrepreneur Paul Nyambe started buying goats from small-holder farmers, making them now earn an income raising goats. Zamgoat processes, distributes and sells the goat meat, both in wholesale and retail.
Paul says Zamgoat has processed and sold over 2,300 goats to date over the last 3 years, earning more than USD 150,000 in revenues and impacting more than 200 smallholder farmers, increasing their income with over 10%. And this was even without owning a truck or refrigerators. After having proven the model, Paul wants to scale up the business.
Paul joined the VC4Africa platform in 2012 as one of his efforts to strategically position his venture for growth. Paul explains: “I used the VC4Africa platform to showcase my business to potential investors and collaborators from around the world. Three years after my initial registration on the VC4Africa platform I got the first interest from a potential investor in my venture Zamgoat.”
Via the platform Paul got invited to apply to a business accelerator program run by Fledge LLC in Seattle, USA. “The managing director of Fledge had read my venture profile on VC4Africa and was impressed with the Zamgoat business concept, thus invited me to apply into Fledge. After getting shortlisted and after a Skype interview with the MD of Fledge, I got the big news that Zamgoat had made it among the 7 selected ventures out of the 170+ applicants from around the world!”
Fledge is a business accelerator which invests in and trains impactful startups from around the world. The deal between Zamgoat and Fledge included an equity investment and participation in the 10 weeks Fledge Business Accelerator program in Seattle, USA.
Paul explains: “Before Fledge came on board we were merely a struggling proof-of-concept enterprise with limited operational capacity and lacking in equipment, cold chain and transport. We are now utilizing the secured investment plus our other proceeds from other sources to improve our operational base.”
“We have thus procured some pieces of processing equipment and our first ever cold truck. This development will also further strategically position us for more potential investments and growth as we reach new operational milestones.”
Paul is looking for more investments: “We are initially interested in flexible impact investments with a return of both social and financial value but are also available to discuss mainstream equity with traditional investors. In 5 years time we see ourselves growing into a potentially attractive venture to both local and foreign acquirers and or grow into a scalable and profitable operation, which is also significantly alleviating rural poverty through our sustainable goat trade.”
Paul believes social business is the way forward: “I want African entrepreneurs to realize that Africa can only be developed by Africans, and that business promoting community good is the best way forward in our pursuit of sustainable social and economic development for our continent.”
To other entrepreneurs in Africa Paul suggests to not wait for investors and solutions, but actively seek out for them. “In the entrepreneurial world nothing moves until you move it,” he says. “Get out of your limits and find what you are looking for.”
To other entrepreneurs Paul recommends making use of VC4Africa too: “I would recommend the VC4Africa platform for any growth-seeking entrepreneur to try out. I know my journey is long and maybe still taking twists and turns but if the VC4Africa platform has so far been instrumental in my journey, why not for you? VC4Africa is a good platform to showcase your business to potential investors and collaborators from around the world. In fact, your gain from the platform is beyond potentially getting an investor for your venture, it is also a great learning and networking resource.”
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