Aspire Small Business Fund

About the Aspire Small Business Fund

The Aspire Small Business Fund (ASBF) supports viable, growth-oriented, micro & small enterprises to help stimulate long-term economic and social development in the Niger Delta region. It was established in 2013 through the joint effort of GroFin and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC).

The ASBF gives special consideration to labour intensive sectors which create high levels of employment. The Fund also focuses on current or former participants of small business support programmes, such as the Shell LiveWire scheme.

Investors & Funders

Geographical Exposure

Nigeria, Niger Delta region

Performance of the Aspire Small Business Fund

The ASBF has invested approximately US$ 3m in 54 micro and small businesses through 63 transactions. It has been in harvest since July 2018 and will remain so until June 2023.

At the end of 2019, the Fund had sustained 688 jobs and counted 51 active portfolio companies and 3 exits. Its investments are spread across five sectors, but the portfolio is concentrated in manufacturing (including food processing) at 55% and wholesale & retail trade at 20%. These sectors traditionally offer high potential for job creation, especially for vulnerable groups like unskilled workers, the youth, and women.

Economically, it was a difficult year for Nigeria with heightened concerns around security – a perennial problem in the region. Our investees were not insulated from these broader environmental challenges and given that these businesses are relatively small and mostly unstructured, a lot of time and resources are required to ensure they remain viable. The business support GroFin provided to its ASBF clients helped to ensure that a significant number recorded remarkable achievements despite their harsh operating environment.

One such client, Aniella Ventures, successfully exited the Fund with no single incidence of delayed payment or default throughout the entire duration of the loan. Another, GIA Bridals, participated in a continental fashion show where her bridal collection was showcased on television. Both businesses are run by women entrepreneurs, validating the Fund’s focus on gender lens investment which took off in earnest during 2019.