Evaluation: Yunus Social Business Uganda’s Acceleration and Financing of Social Business Ventures in East Africa
YSB Uganda (YSBU), a subsidiary of YSB Global, has been operating in Uganda since 2015. In January 2016, the Argidius Foundation entered into a four-year partnership with YSB, aimed at supporting its social entrepreneurship acceleration and financing services in Uganda and scale them in the East Africa region. The investment fund aimed to provide primary debt financing to social businesses in amounts that ranged between USD $50,000 to $350,000, supplemented with post-financing technical support. The accelerator program aimed to bring early-stage ventures to investment readiness. Participating ventures ranged from being pre-revenue to having revenues of up to $1.7million in the year prior to participating. The cost per participating enterprise as at the end of 2017 was €26k. In 2017, an evaluation was commissioned focused on assessing YSBU’s acceleration and financing of social businesses (SBs) to inform ongoing implementation and future plans for expansion of support to the East Africa region. Additionally a case study of one of YSBU’s top performing social business investees, Impact Water was undertaken to verify its contribution to impact.
Key findings from the evaluation of YSBU:
- By the end of 2017 (two years into the four year partnership), 23 enterprises had graduated from the accelerator out of the 31 whom had started, and the fund had made €1.5million of investments into 8 enterprises (three of which were also accelerator graduates). (This is in addition to the 3 investments and 15 accelerator graduates prior to the partnership.)
- The fund is additional to the market, with the size, stage and terms of financing unique and highly valued by the enterprises. The investments have been chosen well.
- There is room for improvement in the post-investment support
- The accelerator has not had a clear impact on business growth, and has been revised into an investment readiness program focused on a smaller set of mature businesses.
- Data quality issues were identified
Key findings from the impact case study:
- Impact Water contributes to impact in several areas: improved health and reduced greenhouse gas emissions
- The latter has contributed significantly to the business model, through an ’impact calculator’ substantial revenue was secured as an advance against buying carbon.
- In the short-medium term there is a trade-off between reaching financial sustainability sooner, and impact.