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UK-Africa Investment Summit – What does it mean for gender and impact investing?

The UK-Africa Investment Summit just came to an end, with commitments by the UK to focus on more investment expansion across the African continent. Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom noted with emphasis that this was the first UK- Africa investment event of this scale with billions of pounds in active deals across the continent, creating a great partnership between Africa and the UK.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson highlighted Lolade Oresanwo from Nigeria in his UK Africa Investment Summit opening speech

The UK looks to expand trade and investment beyond the existing synergies and partnerships with a green trajectory and social impact. Boris highlighted Lolade Oresanwo from Nigeria, a woman running the region’s biggest waste processing operation in West Africa called WestAfricaENRG based in Lagos, having started operations in 2014. He noted this as a great example of the type of business and investment synergies that can be developed between the UK and Africa, noting that the business is supported by UK investors and is a large employer of women.

The gender discussion and Africa remains hot at the heels of many investors, with either funds and asset owners or managers seeking stronger focus on female led business, or businesses with a focus on female integration or products and services that impact and improve female livelihoods. What does this mean in the light of the just ended summit? Where do the opportunities lie? It is not a hidden fact that on the global sphere and let alone Africa, it is appreciated that empowering a woman extends deeper into the family livelihood and wellbeing.

It is great to see a number of African investment funds looking to screen their investments with a gender lens, and assessing the impact from a gender perspective for both the fund and the business they invest in. Personally I can say that this cumulative gender impact can potentially be large if investors and African businesses can see this opportunity in positioning our continent and our females for the best outcomes.

Bringing us back to the summit and African investments, it is understood that gender impact is a strong factor considered in identifying investment opportunities, and the long term impact of a business or investment. The faster companies, individuals and organisations appreciate this the more we can accelerate our growth trajectory across Africa compared to other continents.

It is of note there are African female led investment funds applying a gender lens theme over their investment portfolios, with a strong women focus being key to their screening of investments. Two such funds include Alitheia IDF, Nigeria/ South Africa and Victus Global, Kenya. Not only are funds led by females, but are funds for female businesses with measurable impact.

The UK has made it clear that over the next few years more investment will come to Africa – why not fully take on this opportunity and centre stage to ensure our women are also part of the bloodline of our investments in Africa. After all it makes business sense.

Tendai Mabikacheche is the founder and Managing Director of iSustain Global

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