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Visiting three African SMEs in Tanzania

Last month I was in Tanzania visiting three Africa Eats‘ investees: Swahili Honey, Goldenpot, and Rogathe Dairy. Below are three short videos showing off their factories. All of these companies have grown more than 10x since I first met them, some of them growing that fast in two years. See the post on fast-growing SMEs to see each of their growth stories, and click on the other companies...

Transmogrify

I came across the word “transmogrify” today and wondered if the author first learned it reading Calvin & Hobbes, as I don’t recall ever seeing the word before that. Luckily for us denizens of the 21st Century, we can ask Google’s Ngrams the popularity of a word back a few centuries: Turns out no, the word isn’t new to Calvin & Hobbes. It was used to describe...

Africa’s population patterns

1.4 billion people live in Africa. But that population is far from evenly distributed. The southern edge of the Sahara is clearly visible in West Africa, as is the enormous population in Nigeria. Then over in East Africa it is even denser in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and over into Rwanda around Lake Victoria and Lake Kivu, and yet denser still down in Malawi. See the original post on www...

The Snowball, another Buffett biography

If you want to understand the history of Berkshire Hathaway there are two good books to choose from. Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist by Roger Lowenstein, which I summarized six months ago, or The Snowball by Alice Schroeder, summarized below. The main difference between the two tellings is that Lowenstein focuses more on the Buffett Partnership and then Berkshire Hathaway as a...

Why Not?

Other people, see things and . . . say ‘Why?’ . . . But I dream things that never were– and I say: ‘Why not?’ – George Bernard Shaw This has shown in my 30+ year career repeatedly. Most recently a few months ago, when pondering the “Missing Middle” of capital for startups in general, and SMEs in Africa specifically. Why? Why is it taking so long for...

Venture Capital returns (in general) are less than 2x

Venture capital funds often tout cash-on-cash returns of 2x-3x over 10 years. That is the supposed “norm” for successful funds. But despite the industry being tracked investment by investment in detail, the industry as a whole is notoriously opaque when it comes to the returns of the funds. Thank you to Dan Gray (@credistick) who tweeted the following table, with data from 1981...

Where (exactly) is the Global South?

There is no multi-national or other organizations that uses the name “Global South” and thus no clear cut definition of which countries are included when you use that term. In general, this is the most recent way to talk about the poorer countries with “emerging markets”, formerly known as “developing” economies, and before that the “3rd World”. The...

When is an SME tiny, small, medium, or beyond?

Is every investee at Africa Eats and Africa Trees an SME? Are they all small. Are any big enough to be medium? Did the biggest grow beyond SME status last year? Where are the edges to these categories? There is no global authority to answer those questions, but the EU does have a definition that they’ve not only published, but have updated at least once. The boundaries between...

Birth of the NADSAQ in 1968

Why did New York need another stock exchange in 1968? Why was the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange, and Pacific Stock Exchange insufficient? An unprecedented bull market coupled with paper-based systems. I’m in my 50’s and don’t remember “Wall Street” not having both the NYSE and NASDAQ as the two main exchanges. I am old enough to remember the AMEX...

Foresight vs. Hindsight in Fast-moving Markets

Ars Technia published a lovely history of the changes in market leadership in computers, tables, and smartphones. My takeaway is another reminder of how much more difficult foresight is than hindsight. Especially when I was reading the prospectus to the Apple IPO, where the risks were about the TRS-80, Atari 400, Commodore PET, and other competitors of the day. We all think of Apple today as a...

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