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‘Impact investment, key to attaining SDGs in Nigeria’

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Impact investing and funding will be crucial to Nigeria attaining the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
   
Globally, countries are expected to try as much as possible to attain the SDGs by 2030. The SDGs are 17 in number, including, no poverty, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy.
   
Others are decent work and economic growth, industry, innovation, and infrastructure; reduced inequality; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; climate action; life below water; among others.

   
Already, a study conducted by Impact Investors Foundation (IIF), and the Ford Foundation, found that impact the investing market grew from $1.9billion in 2015 to $4.7billion in 2019. The report defines impact investing as investments made into companies, organisations, funds, with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.
  
While almost all the investment (81%) came from Development Financial Institutions (DFIs), the report noted that the private sector has not fully tapped into the burgeoning market.
   
It stressed that apart from DFIs, in Nigeria the burden of social impact projects is mostly borne by the government.
   
Similarly, panellists at a session hosted by BusinessDay Media themed: “Impact Investing and Funding of SDGs in Nigeria,” at the Social Media Week (SMW), Lagos, said private sector involvement is central to achieving any meaningful impact in that regard.
   
On this, the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Investment, Maryam Uwais, decried that getting private sector participation in government’s social programmes has remained a challenge.
 
“The private sector wants to see an immediate return on investments, but social enterprise takes time. We need to develop the economic value chain of these enterprises before bringing in the private sector,” Uwais said.
  
From her perspective, Academic Director, Lagos Business School, Prof. Olayinka David-West, noted that broadening the scope of impact investing and de-emphasising the concept as mere charity would go a long way to meeting the targets.
    
In this case, she said the emphasis should be on what impact is the investment going to create.
 
“To achieve the SDGs, we need interventions. Interventions cost money. And these interventions must be sustainable even after the funding stops.” David-West said.
   
To the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), 54Gene, Abasi Ene-Obong, the intent to make a profit as well as a positive impact could be a better selling point for private sector investors.
 
54Gene, which has benefitted from impact investing, needs to be seen as a money-making business making a positive impact to be attractive to investors.
 
“Companies shouldn’t depend on impact investors, they should focus more on being impact companies that will attract the interest of investors,” Ene-Obong said.
    
Chief Investment Officer, Heirs Holding, Sam Nwanze, said: “If you have a portfolio for investment, you should have a separate portfolio for impact investing too.”


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