The external Investment Committee of West Africa Bright Future Fund – our new fund that finances agriculture, clean energy, and waste management in Mali, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, and Guinee – has assembled in person for the first time.
Welcoming the IC to Den Haag’s headquarters was a unique occasion – not due to COVID legacy, but because committee members are based in Africa. We appreciate the diversity of our international team and how it contributes to our impact goals. But it is more than that – local expertise is key in our line of work.
Typically, capital providers to fragile environments operating from offices in Europe and the US have a very high-level knowledge of the end outcomes. Real positive impact starts with understanding the market in which we invest. To be successful and truly support local economies, investors need to have feet on the ground. CIM has investment management teams based in West Africa – who, if not local experts in MFI and SME finance, should evaluate their investment proposals?
“I believe in positive impact through profitable business. While investors globally are more and more open to going beyond just the mitigation of ESG risks and are now considering the impact of their investment decisions, several countries and segments are still heavily underserved. Beyond its direct impact, the WABFF has the opportunity to pioneer models for investing in fragile economies and inspire others to follow,” says Sanne Steemers, Chair of the WABFF IC. An independent expert who connects African businesses to the rest of the world as an entrepreneur, advisor, and trainer, Sanne shares her time between Nigeria and the Netherlands.
IC member Thierno Sadou Diallo, Senior Investment Specialist, experienced in agribusiness, energy, and waste sectors, operates from Guinea. “Linking financial returns to environmental, social, and governance factors is the best way to make investments sustainable and improve the livelihood of communities. It is an honor to help the West Africa Bright Future Fund make that impact,” comments Thierno on his decision to join.
Finally, the IC is joined by Issam Chleuh, a thought leader with 15 years of experience in impact investing in Africa, the Middle East, and America. “Being from Mali, I have witnessed firsthand how conflicts and capital flights positively correlate. Cordaid Investment Management does exactly the opposite: they are bullish when everyone leaves,” concludes Issam.