Nompu Ntsele

Building Impact Investing Momentum in Africa

On April 5, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Tony Elumelu Foundation launched the Impact Economy Innovations Fund (IEIF) to improve the lives of poor and vulnerable people throughout Africa.

The fund was announced at the Impact Investing in Africa: Accelerating the Industry Regionally forum in Cape Town, South Africa. The fund will target projects that seek to enable capital solutions, foster entrepreneurial ecosystems and promote the impact investing industry infrastructure.

The exact size of the fund was not disclosed, but it will support approximately 7-8 proposals annually. The maximum grant amount is $100,000 and organizations may participate in more than one grant proposal. Interested organizations can find more information on how to access the fund here.

Dr. Wiebe Boer, CEO of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, said “impact investing is a critical tool in driving our agenda of promoting entrepreneurship for lasting economic and social development in Africa.”

“We want to see more deals of this nature and our commitment to support this new fund is just the beginning,” he said.

The forum, hosted by the two foundations as well as the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Graduate School of Business, provided a platform to introduce the relatively new concept – in African investment circles – of impact investing.

Using presentations and panel discussions, forum participants discussed the barriers to, and opportunities for, unlocking greater investment capital for impact at scale while also strengthening the sector’s entrepreneurial talent and African ecosystem.

Some speakers made the case for investing with purpose. Wendy Luhabe, chairwoman of the Women Private Equity Fund, said that although she had not heard of impact investing, she believes in the value of investing with purpose. She said she knows that social businesses have the power to solve some of South Africa’s most pressing problems.

Dr. Francois Bonnici, director of the Bertha Centre, spoke about some of the local work in the impact investing sector. Bonnici also unveiled the first impact investing barometer for South Africa, which will track the trends and practices in the sector. Bonnici told the audience that “with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the possibilities for impact investing in Africa are endless.”

impact investing