Advising and Fundraising for Startup Commercial Fish Farm

Situation

An entrepreneur was seeking strategic advisory services as he launched what would become a high-end aquaculture firm with a reputation for integrity, quality, and excellence in management. This Rwandan-based company expected to establish a modular, self-sufficient and independent fish production-line, from ‘breeders to market-size fish’. The project was to be based on sustainable production and year-round supply of fresh fish products to the domestic market, with a strong opportunity for export to neighboring countries. Political stability, a year-round warm climate, an untapped market and a growing economy, all combined to make Rwanda the best location in the world for this five million USD project.

The company has raised 1M USD and has now completed the first stage of what will be a four-stage 1500 metric ton per year fish production facility. The company has already employed hundreds of the poorest Rwandans in the construction and operations of the facility and will continue to do so as it continues the build-out and operation of subsequent phases. It will commence sales in mid to late 2012 and move forward with subsequent rounds of funding and construction thereafter.

The prospects for Lakeside Fish Farm’s continued growth are excellent, with domestic market demand of 16,000 metric tons far exceeding current local production. Additionally it is believed that existing market demand is understated based on the lack of consistent product quality and availability. Products will be sold primarily in the Kigali area, as well as exported to high population centers in the region.

Karisimbi Partners’ Approach

Karisimbi Partners has supported this project from its earliest stages, having helped develop strategy for local launch of the company to developing the market, performing financial analysis and facilitating fundraising efforts and investor relations.

Strategic Planning

The Karisimbi Partners team engaged with Company management in an effort to translate the strategic and business planning that had been accomplished to-date into something executable for the Rwandan context. This initial strategic planning workshop and the resulting direction affected decisions regarding product development, fundraising and marketing strategies. From this initial engagement Karisimbi Partners established what would become a long-term ongoing advisory role with the Company. This has included a range of services, some of which are outlined below, but also include regular “check-ins” with the entrepreneur, evaluating candidates for senior leadership in the company and facilitating relationships with strategic private sector and government partners. Karisimbi Partners has become an integral part of the senior decision-making process at the Company.

Fundraising

The entrepreneur had succeeded in raising nearly 70% of what was required to accomplish the first phase built-out of the business. This had come primarily from friends and family. Karisimbi Partners was engaged to help secure the remaining 30% of the initial round of funding from a more sophisticated set of investors who were outside the immediate friends and family network of the entrepreneur. Karisimbi Partners developed investment promotion materials for the Company to include letters of intent, financial models, and investor pitch presentations. The team then selectively targeted networks of socially conscious investors and succeeded in raising the remaining funds within six months of beginning the effort. Karisimbi Partners has been retained to lead the subsequent rounds of fundraising for the Company.

Market Development

Karisimbi Partners not only provided strategic guidance related to product development and pricing but “rolled up the sleeves” and took charge of securing a distribution depot, acquiring supply from Uganda and testing the market in DR Congo on behalf of the Company. Karisimbi Partners is managing ongoing discussions with key institutional customers for the Company, effectively serving as a shadow sales and marketing team. This will be fundamental to success as sales begin to get off the ground in the coming months.

Results

The Company has completed its first round of funding. It has completed build-out of phase one of the production facility. The Company has developed a sales and marketing strategy in Rwanda and the region that will serve as a foundation for its growth into subsequent stages where it will ultimately produce 1,500 metric tons of fresh farmed fish per year. This has created and will continue to sustain hundreds of jobs in one of the poorest areas of the country. It will also serve as the foundation of a protein production industry in Rwanda that will provide critical nutrients to those who need it most. Karisimbi Partners has had the honor of playing and continuing to play an important role in this change-agent business.

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