advocate more capacity building for increased lending to SMEs
By Peter Egwuatu
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 leading financial services provider, First City Monument Bank (FCMB).
The conference, recorded over 1,100 registered participants from 18 countries across the world and prominent speakers from 10 countries.
In his keynote address, Mr. Oscar Onyema, CEO of Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE highlighted the important opportunities of increased impact investing in Africa and the need for investors to operate with high standards. He also stated that Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria and across the continent should be viable stakeholders on the capital market, as this will go a long way to boost their profile and performance in the local and international business environment.
In addition, the speakers noted that for Africa and entrepreneurs to maximise the benefits of impact investment, certain key requirements must be put in place. These include, an improvement in the continent’s digital infrastructure in order to foster e-commerce; investors should prioritise financing entrepreneurs, “investment readiness” to build their long term resiliency to future economic shocks; flexibility and expediency should be the cornerstone of access to finance to support entrepreneurs in the recovery process
Speaking on the conference, the Executive Director, Business Development of FCMB, Mrs. BukolaSmith, described it as another milestone in the quest to harness the potentials 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.”