Highlights of the Mission Investing Forum 2018: Africa and sustainable development
”What are the three images you have in mind when you think of Africa?” Tilman Wörtz, from the Culture Counts Foundation gGmbH, thus began stating his view of the continent at the 7th Mission Investing Forum. At that moment, hardly anyone would have thought of the variety of photos of Africans available on the Instagram account Everyday Africa, but the aim of the forum was exactly to show how diverse Africa is and to show what opportunities exist for interested foundations and philanthropists to use their assets to realize their own foundation purpose and to contribute to sustainable development in Africa.
Working together to enable sustainable development
How important sustainable development is in Africa – not only for the continent itself, but also for development in Germany and world-wide – was emphasized at the very beginning of the meeting by Christina Opitz from the Management Board of the GLS bank and Joachim Schmitt, Senior Policy Officer at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). They called on foundations and philanthropists to work together to achieve this.
There are already many possibilities for mission investing in Africa today
After this, nine organizations impressively demonstrated the potential for mission investing in Africa. These organizations were SANAD Fund for MSME; GreenTec Capital Partners; Stiftung Solarenergie; Africa GreenTec AG; Solar Connect eG; the International Committee of the Red Cross; SEKEM; Oikocredit Stiftung Deutschland; and Steinbeis Consulting Impact Investing. All have successfully tested and implemented new approaches, ranging from the development of employment opportunities and solar energy to a Humanitarian Impact Bond. Many people from the audience were amazed by the variety of instruments and inspired by the existing possibilities to support sustainable development in Africa with mission investing.
It takes the adherence to our values and good governance
Dr. Prinz Asfa-Wossen Asserate, Management Consultant for Africa and the Middle East, bestselling author and political analyst, explained that Africa is becoming increasingly important from a political, economic, environmental and cultural perspective. For him, the future of supporting African development lies in economic relations at eye level. To achieve this, it is necessary to uphold one’s own values, a common Africa policy of the countries, and good governance in the African countries.
Interest, exchange, and dialogue are necessary
During the panel discussion on the sustainability goals of the 2030 Agenda, Coumba Toure from the TrustAfrica Foundation in Senegal emphasised how many lively and serious discussions are already taking place in Africa – but many people in Europe are not aware of this. Much more interest is needed in what is happening in Africa, as well as more opportunities for exchange and dialogue. Klaus Milke, Chairman of Foundations 20 (F20) and Chairman of the Board of Stiftung Zukunftsfähigkeit and Germanwatch, used F20 as an example to illustrate the importance of personal relationships and cooperation between the various actors at the global level and the work in the G20 countries.
Patrick van Weerelt, Head of Office of the UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development, encouraged people to reflect on the question: “Do we really know the content of the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals?” Currently, the 2030 Agenda is being used by many different actors for a wide range of objectives. He asked us to discuss how we could implement the 2030 Agenda with all its different interrelated goals, without leaving anyone behind.
What would successful mission investing of German foundations in Africa look like?
Philanthropist Ise Bosch, Markus Lux from the Robert Bosch Stiftung and Johannes Weber from the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt reflected on the approach taken by foundations in the field of mission investing in Africa. Above all, it is smaller and slower steps that enable learning, testing impact investing in individual projects and building networks and ecosystems. They also stressed the need to transform the concept of risk in the investment strategies of foundations.
In the final discussion with Saran Kaba Jones (founder and Managing Director of FACE Africa in Liberia and Fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy), Thomas Jorberg (Chairman of the Management Board of GLS Bank) and Felix Oldenburg (Secretary General of the Federal Association of German Foundations), we asked Saran Kaba Jones what her recipe would be for success in sustainable development. Her answer: passion for Africa, the potential that Africa already has and the commitment to giving everyone access to basic social services. However, the challenges remain great, from fundraising to building infrastructures and networks between financial institutions to new and hybrid financial instruments.
The next steps
At the end of January 2019, the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Federal Association of German Foundations will organize a workshop in Berlin on the topic of partnerships in Africa to deepen the opportunity for exchange and dialogue.
The GLS Bank and the BMZ intend jointly to pursue the topic of impact investing and are planning a workshop on this topic in the first half of the year.