Partnering with an Impact Investor to Equip Managers Across Africa


Global impact investor Acumen saw a major bottleneck in many portfolio companies in Africa. “Talent is the biggest issue for many of our investee companies, whether they know it or not,” said Molly Alexander, head of talent development at Acumen. “The so-called soft skills required to lead teams and successfully manage change are difficult to find, and rarely addressed by traditional training options.” Without strong leadership skills among middle and senior managers, these businesses were limited in their ability to scale.

AMI developed programmes focused on people management and strategic problem solving for managers and leaders at social benefit companies from across East and West Africa. Through engaging in-person workshops, hands-on practice, peer coaching, and an extensive online learning platform, the participants gained key leadership skills, and knowledge about organisational transformation and management practices.

Talent is the biggest issue for many of our investee companies, whether they know it or not.

Molly Alexander, Head of talent development

“Really from the first lab I changed my way of leading,” explains Mathewos Erusmo, chief marketing officer of EthioChicken. “I’m more focused on the listening part and talking less.” Susan Kuria, sales activation manager of Burn Manufacturing, especially enjoyed how practical and collaborative the programme was. “Everyone just gets to interact,” she says. “I love the role plays. There are so many tools attached to every course really to just assess how are you able to apply all those in real life.”

Every participant reported applying what they learned directly to their work; 100% of their CEOs saw an improvement in their performance after the programme. In addition, 97% of participants said they acquired brand new management skills.

“I need to enroll in something that can enrich me and make me a better person than I am right now, and AMI has been that platform for me,” says Susan.

The results speak to the transformational impact of AMI’s blended learning approach. According to Molly Alexander of Acumen, “AMI’s user-centric approach to learning makes them the perfect partner to build programmes for our portfolio companies.”

Acumen has since run three further management programmes with AMI. The first cohort was fully funded by Acumen; portfolio companies now pay most of the cost themselves and many send several participants.

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