Investment practice

Photo credit: Root Capital

Economic growth is driven by income-generating opportunities in business ecosystems; and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are the lifeblood of those ecosystems. Small Foundation seeks to maximise our impact on rural poverty in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by partnering with intermediaries that support MSMEs to competitively thrive.

In practice

We believe a thriving economy creating commercial and income-generating opportunities is key to sustainable economic empowerment at scale. Towards this aim we support initiatives, generally intermediaries, that provide MSMEs with access to key drivers of business in SSA including finance, knowledge, markets, technology, and human and social capital.

We provide a variety of supports including flexible, long-term capital with investment across instruments, such as convertible long-term debt to support scale for WARC; seed funding for expansion to EFAG; and a long-term loan to Capria to back early-growth business. Our finance is collaboratively designed to be innovative and catalytic.

This is underpinned by bespoke non-financial support, including advice, connections, and Small Foundation staff serving in governance roles.

We also support ecosystem-building initiatives that improve knowledge flows and social capital, such as research, impact networks and the amplification of peer and partner voices.


Small Foundation is working towards a thriving, commercially viable MSME ecosystem, with improved opportunities and livelihoods for people living in poverty in rural SSA.

We invest in opportunities at higher leverage points where we feel our unique set of offerings can add the most value. We consider investments through the lens of our three identified system entry points, to prioritise business-model sustainability, more connected ecosystems, and African agency and local ecosystem needs.

In collaboration with our partners, we seek to show that it is possible to balance commercial viability with impact, as part of a system of actors promoting and amplifying further investment and innovation in SSA for a thriving business ecosystem.