The Situation

Jibu trains and finances emerging market entrepreneurs to build profitable social franchises designed to serve the most basic needs of their community. Their anchor product is radically affordable drinking water priced at or below the cost of boiling water at home. In a very short time, Jibu has scaled a network of locally owned franchises that provide affordable, premium-quality water to underserved communities in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Zambia, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Tanzania. As of early 2020, Jibu had launched over 2,000 retail points and created more than 1,400 new jobs.

The Roadblock

With COVID-19 came mandatory quarantines in all markets where Jibu operates. Due to the pandemic, Jibu entered a contingency plan of operating at slower growth and potentially halting further expansion plans depending on the state of committed capital from equity, debt, and grant investors. More than $5 million had been verbally committed, but Jibu was at risk of not being able to close deals on time with international travel banned in all of their core markets.

Open Road's Response

A short-term loan of $400,000 from Open Road gave Jibu time to make the necessary restructuring to become cash flow positive and/or to close financing with one of their core committed partners. The bridge loan provided them with the liquidity needed to continue with core training programs and strengthen their quality control processes. It also allowed Jibu to avoid cutting jobs, programs, and operation centers because of their illiquidity crisis.

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