Hi Quartz Africa readers,
In April, Equity Group—East Africa’s largest bank in assets and deposits—and the Kenyan government organized a trade delegation to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to mark the country’s entrance into the East Africa Community. With a population of 90 million people, the DRC became the bloc’s largest member, raising the EAC’s collective GDP from $193 billion to $240 billion. The 26 Kenyan companies that were part of the trade mission committed KES 185 billion ($1.6 billion) in investment in the DRC.
The private sector’s involvement in the discussion of regional integration marks a symbolic expansion from a realm usually dominated by politics. Sérgio Pimenta, the regional vice president for Africa at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), one of the early investors in Equity Bank and also a supporter of the recent DRC trade delegation, underlined that point in a recent interview: “Africa’s integration isn’t just a political discussion. It’s a private sector discussion too. The private sector is aware that for Africa’s full potential to be unlocked, it has to be done at a regional level.”
Our siloed thinking of borders and nation states has limited the continent’s ability to harness its full potential. African companies recognizing the value of investing in other African countries has the potential to unlock economic opportunities for the whole continent.
—Ciku Kimeria, Africa editor
The case study
Name: Eshi Express
HQ: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Founders: Tigabu Haile, Haben Gebre
With a registered capital of 2.45 million birr ($46,000), Eshi Express was co-founded by Tigabu Haile, a law graduate, and Haben Gebre, an entrepreneur and investor. Haile was working in the non-profit sector when he noticed the demand for a reliable, affordable, and efficient courier service. It always took him days to send out invitations, and he also had to wait for gatherings to distribute published material to members.
Eshi began operating five years ago, offering three models of delivery: express (within 90 minutes), same day, and next-day delivery. All products are offered for less than two dollars. So far, the company has completed 140,000 deliveries and operates a fleet of 20 vans and 60 motorcycles. It is now piloting a delivery scheme in which people deliver goods such as letters and documents by foot. 35 young people were recruited in the pilot so far.
Learn more about Eshi in this coming Wednesday’s edition of the Quartz Africa Member Brief. To get the Member Brief directly in your inbox (and save 40%), become a member today!
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Wave, the payments and money transfer company launched in 2018, upended west Africa’s finance app market in less than four years. It is now home to half of the mobile money accounts in Senegal and it’s quickly expanding in markets nearby. It achieved this largely by undercutting the incumbents on fees—Wave charges a 1% flat fee for sending funds, and no fees for the settling of utility bills. Rival Orange Money had to lower its fees by 80% just to stay competitive.
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🎵 This brief was produced while listening to “Moyo” by Mbosso Ft Costa Titch & Phantom Steeze (Tanzania and South Africa)
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