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Business Partners Ltd. and E-Squared
W. Bowman Cutter
Access to finance has been a chronic issue for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in many areas around the world, but the revenue capital approach is breaking barriers from Tunisia to South Africa and paving a pathway to progress for SMEs who don’t fit the bill for traditional banking and venture capital.
On April 25, Microlinks, in partnership with the USAID Asia and Economic Growth Best Practices (AMEG) project, explored key features of the revenue capital approach. Presenters discussed why it works and how it can be expanded to financially empower SMEs around the world. Participants got to hear lessons learned and best practices from Business Partners working throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and the Tunisian-American Enterprise Fund.
Nazeem has extensive knowledge of and experience in SME and entrepreneurial business finance, having worked for Business Partners Ltd (BPL) – a leading, on-scale provider of risk capital, business premises and technical assistance to SMEs in South Africa and selected sub-Saharan countries. Nazeem spent more than 18 years at BPL, retiring as Managing Director of the company and as CEO of its subsidiary, Business Partners International (Pty) Ltd (“BPI”), in 2016. Prior to joining Business Partners, Nazeem held executive positions in the private, public and NGO sectors, including stints as Deputy Director-General of Public Works in the Nelson Mandela government and with Old Mutual Properties – the real estate arm of South Africa's largest life assurer which is listed on the London stock exchange. Currently, Nazeem serves as a non-executive director on company boards, such as Business Partners Ltd and E-Squared (an equity investor in high impact businesses). He also provides consulting and advisory services to SME and entrepreneurial financiers and service providers. And he, together with some close friends, founded the Wallflower Group in 2016 seeking to build interests in food and aquaculture, short-stay health facilities, real estate development and investments, and affordable private education. Nazeem has read for a BA and Higher Diploma in Education at the University of Cape Town (South Africa) and a Master's in Urban Planning at Hunter College of the City University of New York. He also completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.
W. Bowman Cutter is Senior Fellow and Director of the Economic Policy Initiative at the Roosevelt Institute. He was a managing director of Warburg Pincus, a major global private equity firm headquartered in New York City, between 1996 and 2009 where he served as the firm’s economist; as a leader in its international business; and as one of the firm’s principal fund raisers. Mr. Cutter joined Warburg Pincus directly from a senior economic policy role in the Administration of President Bill Clinton. He has served with distinction during two Democratic presidencies: at the National Economic Council, from 1992-1996, during the Clinton Presidency – as director of the National Economic Council and Deputy Assistant to the President; and at the Office of Management and Budget from 1976-1981, during the Carter Presidency, as Executive Director for Budget. Mr. Cutter also served as leader of the OMB transition team after the election of President Obama. Mr. Cutter was Chairman of the Board of CARE for over seven years, the global development organization (where he had been a member of the Board for 20 years); and is a founder and current Chairman of MicroVest, a leading global microfinance fund with assets under management now in excess of $250 million. He is the immediate past Chairman of the Board of Resources for the Future, one of the most important energy and environmental research institutes in the world; and Chairman of the Tunisian American Enterprise Fund (TAEF) which was founded by the US government to help the Tunisian economy through private sector investment. In addition, Mr. Cutter is a member of the Governing Council of the IFMR Trust, in India, focusing upon market based solutions to the problems of severe poverty in India; a member of the executive committee and past co-chairman of the Committee for Economic Development, the leading business “think-tank” in the United States; and a board member of the Russell Sage Foundation. In addition, he is a member of the New York Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Cutter holds degrees from Harvard University, the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.
Tom Gibson has been promoting and providing risk capital finance for small and medium enterprises in developing markets for more than 25 years. He was founding president and later chairman of Small Enterprise Assistance Funds (SEAF), one of the largest global groups of private SME risk capital funds in developing markets, with more than $500 million under management and over 500 investments. Since his departure from SEAF in 2001, Mr. Gibson has been advising primarily on the design, development, and documentation for new SME risk capital funds as well as providing training for fund managers and stakeholders in SME finance. His clients include, inter alia, the World Bank, International Finance Corporation, Asian Development Bank, U.S. Agency for International Development, Inter-American Development Bank, Millennium Challenge Corporation, numerous developing country governments, and private risk capital fund managers. Working in more than 70 countries, he has held in-depth, on-site, one-on-one investment related interviews with more than 600 SMEs. He has been a frequent speaker at international fora on development finance, a guest lecturer at numerous business schools, and adjunct professor in international development at Tulane University. Mr. Gibson’s publications include: "High Impact Gazelles: Should They Be a Major Focus of SME Development?", co-authored with Hugh Stevenson and published by IFC; “Defining SMEs: Toward a Less Imperfect Definition of Small and Medium Enterprises in Developing Countries” co-authored with Bert van der Vaart and published by the Brookings Institutions; and “Non-Traditional Investment Structures for Risk capital Financing of SMEs”, co-authored with Christopher Davis, published in Chinese in the trade journal, China Venture Capital. Mr. Gibson holds a BA from the University of the South, an MA from the University of Virginia, has studied at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, and speaks English, French, and Spanish.