Impact investors, business owners and other stakeholders in Africa have been urged to transform the challenges posed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic into opportunities by going into strategic partnerships across different sectors nationally, continentally and internationally.
In addition, they have been enjoined to place emphasis on impact investment, as part of the COVID-19 pandemic recovery process, to fast-track economic growth and development.
These were the submissions at a virtual conference, under the theme, "Investing in the New Normal: A Call for Impact Investing in Africa", organised by The Funding Space (an access to finance, impact investing, training and networking platform) in collaboration with First City Monument Bank (FCMB).
The conference, which recorded over 1,100 registered participants from 18 countries across the world and prominent speakers from 10 countries, was held recently.
It provided a platform for diverse expert discussions with leaders in government, financial and investment sectors, international development institutions, innovators, donors and entrepreneurs, to have more insights into enhanced impact investing and exploring opportunities for the growth of African entrepreneurs and what the new normal caused by the COVID-19 pandemic should look like.
The experts spoke on various topics, ranging from, the Policy & Practice on Impact Investing in mid/post COVID-19 Africa, Outstanding Impact Investing Examples during COVID-19, Diaspora & Impact Investing in Africa and Strategies to make this a reality as well as Gender Lens Investing: Trends & Community Building in Africa.
Among the speakers at the virtual conference were the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo; The Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen; Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, (who was represented by the Special Adviser, SDGs and Investment, Mrs. Solape Hammond) and the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Mr. Oscar Onyema.
Speaking at the conference, the Executive Director, Business Development of FCMB, Mrs. Bukola Smith, described it as another milestone in the quest to harness the potential of businesses in Africa by connecting them with the right tools and other opportunities.
According to her, "we are excited to be part of this initiative. Impact investing will go a long way to help Africa attract more private sector capital and skills to reduce the continent's vulnerability to external shocks, through the provision of market-based solutions to address socio-economic needs in a sustainable manner.
"At FCMB, we will continue to upscale our support to businesses through the profitable and beneficial business models we have developed for entrepreneurs. We have gone a step further by ensuring that SMEs that have benefitted from our support in turn go ahead to impact positively on society".
Also commenting, the Managing Partner of SME.NG, Ms. Thelma Ekiyor, said, "since 2017, The Funding Space has hosted annual convenings that link ideas to financing. The 2020 event provided a unique opportunity for investors, policy makers and entrepreneurs across Nigeria, Africa and the world to deliberate and share ideas on how to support robust post-COVID recovery processes on the continent."