Press Release: First Impact Investing Fellowship for Asset Owners and Managers in Asia and Africa
To meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the world will need to raise three times more sustainable financing than we are currently investing. With government budgets facing deficits, development aid withdrawing, and the financing gap widening, the role of private sector capital has never been more crucial.
Asia and Africa could be poised for strong economic growth if the opportunities presented in the next decade are effectively leveraged for maximum impact. “There is scope for Asia and Africa to see synchronised, sustainable growth if we establish optimal alliances between the regions,” says Bridget Fury, Head of Oppenheimer Generations Philanthropies. “Both continents have huge potential to augment their economic and social potential and to build on their recent successes by sharing different experiences of growth and development.”
One of the solutions to closing the SDG financing gap may lie in the impact investing space. The field of impact investing challenges the long-held views that social and environmental issues should be addressed only by philanthropic donations, and the private sector should only focus on achieving financial returns. Today’s impact investment market offers diverse and viable opportunities for investors to advance social as well as environmental solutions through investments that also produce financial returns. More and more mainstream investors are now looking at the opportunities offered by entering the growing impact investing market where they can generate positive and measurable social and environmental impact alongside financial returns.
To nurture asset owners and capital managers into becoming effective impact investing practitioners, two funders’ associations the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) and the African Venture Philanthropy Alliance (AVPA), have launched an inaugural Africa-Asia Impact Investing Fellowship. “This fellowship will build the capacity and knowledge of 60 Fellows in emerging fields such as Innovative Finance, Impact Management, and Leadership in Complexity,” says Naina Subberwal Batra, Chairperson and CEO of AVPN. “By equipping an emerging generation of impact investors, we aim to ultimately increase the flow of investment capital to support Africa and Asia’s social sectors.”
Impact Investing – an emerging practice in Asia and Africa
While ‘impact investing’ is still a fairly new concept in Asia and Africa, its opportunities and potential are visible. In the last four years, the compound annual growth rate in impact investing in East and Southeast Asia alone was 20%, higher than the U.S and Canada. Over the same 4 years, the compound annual growth rate in Africa was 7% with sub-Saharan Africa ranking 4th out of the 10 regions studied in terms of the amount of capital allocated for impact.
Mainstreaming impact investing, however, will take time. “There is a mismatch between the supply of impact investment capital and demand from impact businesses. Investors will need to find innovative means to tailor their funds and meet the needs of these businesses where they are,” says Dr. Frank Aswani, CEO of AVPA. “The Fellowship provides an opportunity for asset owners and managers to collaborate and learn new impact financing models. It will be a place for new entrants to stand on the shoulders of impact investing pioneers, while building a community for them to share their challenges and lessons learnt.”
What to expect from the Africa-Asia Impact Investing Fellowship
Starting September 2021, the Fellowship will be facilitated by Gayle Peterson, a Fellow at the Oxford Saïd Business School and run over a span of four months. The programme will include a combination of pre-reading, closed-door learning sessions with expert facilitation, and post-discussion study groups. Post Fellowship, AVPN and AVPA will continue engaging with the alumni cohort by helping them identify pipelines of deals to invest in.
Asset owners and managers who are looking to acquire the right knowledge and resources to build an impact strategy while building a strong portfolio should consider applying for the Fellowship.