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SME finds business in educating Madagascar

Laurence Carter's picture

Recently I met a remarkable entrepreneur in Antanarivo, Madagascar. Maxime, aged 70, worked for many years as a teacher. Twenty-five years ago he started writing text books for schools. Ten years ago he decided to set up a printing and binding operation to publish the books. Today he is the dominant text book author and publisher in the country. Each day he rises at 3am to write another section of a text book.

English was recently added to the existing official languages of Malagasy and French, thus opening up opportunities for more text books. Maxime's business premises consist of his house, with an adjoining building housing the printing and binding machinery. I met Maxime because he has received financing from a fund managed by Business Partners International.

Business Partners, which is South African-based, specializes in providing small businesses like Maxime's with risk capital. They are very good at it - and at reaching large numbers of small companies. Over the past few years BPI has provided thousands of SMEs with equity, quasi-equity and - crucially - hands-on advice.

One of the key products which BPI offers is the so-called "royalty loans" whereby the entrepreneur is provided with a low interest loan, but with a "royalty" payment if it reaches certain targets. This form of risk-sharing is very attractive to small businesses. BPI is one of the few managers in emerging markets to have demonstrated a successful track record in reaching large numbers of SMEs. Last week, G-8 called for turning Africa into a "continent of opportunity" recognizing SMEs' role as drivers of local sustainable economic growth.


Submitted by Adam Dorken on
1st Pan-African Prize for Entrepreneurial Teachers Launched A competition offering awards for the most entrepreneurial teacher in every African country, and with a top prize of $10,000, was launched today by UK based education charity Teach A Man To Fish. Nik Kafka, Managing Director, said: “There are remarkable teachers across Africa - extraordinary individuals who ‘go the extra mile’ to find creative ways to bring education to their students. “They transform limited resources into astonishing results, drive change within their communities and develop educational initiatives which are copied nationwide. “The 1st Pan-African Prize for Entrepreneurial Teachers will recognize those teachers, and acknowledge the huge contribution they make towards improving the lives of their fellow Africans.” Entries will be assessed against four criteria of innovation, impact, leadership & creative use of limited resources, and must be received before the competition closing date of October 15th 2007. Winners will be selected by a panel of international judges, and the top three awardees sponsored to travel to Paraguay to receive their prizes at the Financially Self-Sufficient Schools Conference taking place December 4-6 2007. Award funds offer winners a great chance to invest in their careers, although individuals are free spend their prize money in any way they choose. Educators wishing to take part should visit the competition website – - for full details on how to enter. ENDS Contact For media enquiries contact Nik Kafka, email: [email protected], tel: +44 7890 420205 Notes for Editors More about the competition This competition is open to teachers working in Africa at all levels of education, from primary through to tertiary, as well as in non-formal education. Entrants will need to describe in 1000 words or less their achievements as teachers and their contribution to education in Africa. Entries can be submitted online, via email, or by post, but must use the official competition entry form available at About the competition organizers TeachAManToFish is an international non-profit organization working to improve the relevancy, quality, and availability of agricultural education in developing countries. Our pioneering approach uses profit-making school-run businesses as a platform for teaching entrepreneurship and agricultural skills. This model not only allows schools to generate additional income - improving their financial sustainability - but more importantly enables them to offer a more relevant and higher quality education. For more information visit Educating Africa is a foundation committed to introducing cost effective and sensible education initiatives throughout Africa, and to acknowledging some of the tremendous educational projects that have been developed across the continent. It is apparent that there are superb educational ideas, generous benefactors and intellectual capital that is willing and able to be invested in worthwhile educational projects. However, often there is a mismatch in linking the various groups. Educating Africa seeks to bridge this gap and match up these groups. For more information visit

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