Looking back over a year of Insight events

In 2021, we welcomed a range of leading figures from business, academia and the public sector to speak at our Insight events. Here, we share some of our highlights from last year.

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January: The power of market-creating innovations in development

Kicking off our Insight events for January 2021 was Efosa Ojomo, co-author of The Prosperity Paradox and Senior Fellow at the Christensen Institute on Disruptive Innovation. Efosa discussed the role of market-creating innovations in development. These, he says, transform complicated and expensive products into simple, affordable ones.

One key takeaway from the discussion:

“I like to use examples from Africa, not just because I’m from there but because if it can happen in Africa it can happen almost anywhere in the world. Let’s take Celtel, a company which CDC invested in. When Mo Ibrahim founded Celtel twenty years ago, people said he was crazy. ‘You want to give cell phones to the average African? There’s poverty, corruption, no infrastructure. It won’t work.’ But fast-forward to today and not only is Mo Ibrahim a billionaire, but Celtel became Airtel, which other companies have catalysed, and in doing so, created a market for mobile phones across Africa.”

You can listen to the podcast of this event below or find the recording here.

 

February: Harnessing impact investing for sustainable economic development

For our second event of the year, we were delighted to welcome one of the pioneers of impact investing, Sir Ronald Cohen. Sir Ronald discussed the role impact investing must play in a successful and sustainable recovery from COVID-19. We also explored how developing countries can use impact investing to not only boost their post-pandemic recovery but also make a transformative difference to the lives of their citizens.

One key takeaway from the discussion:

“Even a decade ago we couldn’t measure the impact of companies or the impact that their operations created on the environment, that their employment or products created on people or the environment. Technology today enables us to do so, and so it presents us with the opportunity to turn our system into one that is capable of bringing solutions to our great challenges: to improve our society, to make it fairer, and to protect our environment.”

You can listen to the podcast of this event below or find the recording here.

March: Reimagining global governance and development in the post pandemic era

Joining our Insight event in March was Oxford University’s renowned governance and international development expert, Professor Ngaire Woods. We reflected on the current governance landscape and asked how we can address the weaknesses exposed by the coronavirus crisis. We also discussed the implications for future trade and investment, and explored a way forward to ensure a resilient and sustainable global recovery.

One key takeaway from the discussion:

“There are some issues that no country can deal with on its own, like managing the pandemic, like averting the financial crisis, which is now hard upon us, and like dealing with climate change. And if we don’t deal with those three issues cooperatively there will be many millions more people who suffer terribly.”

You can listen to the podcast of this event below or find the full recording here.

April: Economic trends transforming African investment and development

In April, we welcomed Dr Frannie Léautier, Chief Executive of Southbridge Investment, for a discussion on the economic trends emerging in Africa in the wake of the pandemic. Frannie has been investing on the African continent for more than 20 years and, across that period, she’s seen the landscape change dramatically, from a scene dominated by larger corporations investing in oil and gas, to the digital and tech heavy picture of today.

One key takeaway from the discussion:

“It’s a continent and it has 54 countries and they’re very diverse but if you go one level deeper you’re talking about thousands of cities and millions of companies so when you hear about something happening in Africa, try not to focus on those unique events but to really focus on the diversity and opportunity that comes from millions of companies in thousands of cities in 54 different countries.”

You can listen to the podcast of this event below or find the full recording here.

May: Harnessing climate finance for sustainable development

At our Insight event in May, we focused on the climate crisis, as we welcomed economist and sustainable development expert, Hans Peter Lankes. We asked how climate finance for private sector development can help developing countries not only mitigate the worst effects of climate change, but also adapt and build resilience against future impacts. We also looked ahead to the pivotal COP26 conference in Glasgow.

One key takeaway from the discussion:

“It is not enough to think about climate finance only in terms of renewable energy. We also need to look at adaptation and resilience, high impact projects outside of power, nature-based solutions and the use of technology.”

You can listen to the podcast of this event below or find the full recording here.

June: Shaping Africa’s future growth

Education entrepreneur Fred Swaniker joined our Insight event in June. Fred is the Founder and CEO of the African Leadership Group. We discussed the opportunity digital technology is providing for people in Africa to reach new employment opportunities, both on the continent and within the global jobs market.

One key takeaway from the discussion:

“This pandemic has opened up markets for Africa’s youth to work in. Before, if you wanted to go and work somewhere else, you had to go through all kinds of immigration challenges. Now you can sit as an engineer in Tanzania and work for Siemens in Germany. That’s a huge opportunity for African talent enabled by technology. We can export our talent, but without the brain drain.”

You can listen to the podcast of this event below or find the full recording here.

September: Enabling impact led investments in emerging markets

After a short summer break, we returned to our Insight events again in September, when Vineet Rai was our guest. Vineet is one of the world’s foremost impact investors and is the chair of Aavishkaar Group, an emerging market financial group. During the discussion, we reflected on the current impact investing landscape, explored potential future industry trends and asked what more can be done to support the growth of impact led investment in emerging markets.

One key takeaway from the discussion:

“I think it is less of a discussion about ‘when I do impact investing, do I get low returns?’  It is about taking a longer time to generate returns.”

You can listen to the podcast of this event below or find the full recording here.

October: COP26 – What do emerging economies need and how can we deliver it?

For our Insight event in October, with COP26 just around the corner, we focused our attention on the climate conference. Our guest speaker was Yvonne Aki Sawyerr OBE, the Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone and a passionate climate champion. Since her election in 2018, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr has put the climate agenda at the heart of her administration, focusing on innovative solutions and local action to address the immediate challenges cities in emerging economies like Freetown face.

One key takeaway from the discussion:

“We are all experiencing the impacts of climate change but the question is resilience. It’s having the systems and resources in place to be able to withstand and rebuild very quickly.”

You can listen to the podcast of this event below or find the full recording here.

CDC is becoming British International Investment