A To Z: Alan Meets Zimbabwe

A To Z: Alan Meets Zimbabwe

Mines, property development, the prime minister and some reasonable traffic policemen.

Last week I toured a number of opportunities that needed financing in Zimbabwe. I was with a finance guru who wrote the book on trade finance. His name is Alan Beard. Alan just helped facilitate $8MM dollars of funding for a local micro finance company called microKing (Part of Afrasia Kingdom Bank), and was here looking at more ways to equip the market with liquidity.

From housing opps to solar projects, Alan was introduced to CEO’s and Directors who had big plans for themselves and Zimbabwe. Of course, no one can come to Zimbabwe without being plastered with mining opportunity.

In amongst the plethora of meetings, there were a few that stood out to both Alan and me that not only had great opportunity, but were "interesting" on many levels. On the outskirts of the hustling city of Harare lies the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA). We were ushered into a boardroom to meet the CEO, Richard Mbaiwa, and other directors. A very apologetic pitch was given about the opportunities in Zimbabwe, and a pile of thick sheets was placed on the desk in front of us. The discussion went from investment opportunities in Zimbabwe, to “how can we work together to make sure Zimbabwe is compelling for the world to get involved?”

Alan mentioned, “There’s too much negative publicity about Zimbabwe and that needs to be countered with some very clear opportunities to change that.”

Nigel Chanakira giving us a tour of MicroKing
Nigel Chanakira (the new Chairman of the board of ZIA) is energized about getting more capital into Zimbabwe, and endorsed Alan’s proposal. Mr. Chanakira also took us on a tour of MicroKing and the Kingdom Bank offices on Samora Machel Avenue. We sat down with a loan officer and went through the process of getting a short term loan, and found that MicroKing has a strong emphasis on teaching local communities about "how to manage your money."

To cap it all off, Arthur Mutambara, the Vice Prime Minister (VPM), the USA office equivalent of the Vice President, met Alan in the lobby of the Meikles Hotel. The charismatic VPM was excited to hear that a success story of longterm debt financing had already been realized in Harare with MicroKing, and he stated that whatever he could do to help more opportunities come to realization, he would support.

L to R: VPM, Mr. Mutambara, Alan, Tommy

One of the things Alan went back to Washington DC with is an idea about a low-cost housing project that will probably require $100MM of debt financing. However, the first passion point on this trip is to work with the Zimbabwe Investment Authority to tell "Zimbabwe’s best story."

Alan has worked in emerging markets all over the world and has over 20 years of international finance and business development experience. Through his career, he has run companies that have arranged several billion dollars in grants, equity, guarantees and loans for more than a 1,000 companies. He's edited and contributed to over 20 books and is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University on international business.

Alan (L) on a mine site with local mining director

Alan is currently the CEO and Managing Director for Interlink Capital, a consulting firm based in DC and Salt Lake City, which focuses on overseas business development and financing in emerging markets. Interlink has established programs and relationships in emerging markets with finance companies like JP Morgan Chase, Sovereign Bank (now Santander), and Zions Bank. They also advise on mergers and acquisitions from time to time.

Interlink continues to shed light from the USA on opportunities in Zimbabwe and speaking for all of us, we are excited about the upcoming months with Southern Africa continuing to slowly, but surely open itself to new ideas and stronger standards, enabling great opportunities to incubate and progress.


Thanks for reading our update! Exciting things are happening and next week is the big week that we'll be unveiling a new look to our site, a very cool video, and a few other big plans. Stay tuned and we'll let you know exactly what's happening mid-week.


Tommy & Tim

(feature photo via peter patau)