Tag Archives: sustainability

Social Impact Investing Creates Value

Impact investing can mean a diverse range of investments, ranging from housing development in the US to renewable energy in BRIC countries and agricultural cooperatives in Africa. Investment can be crowded fund or private equity.  The table below shows the spectrum of different impact investment business models and traditional investments.

Impact Investment

Social impact investing is not a new trend; it has been around for several decades through philanthropic investments, in areas like community and social development, infrastructure and gender equality. However, a fairly new type of bond to finance social wellness is the Social Impact Bond, which the Social Finance UK describes as a “public-private partnership which funds effective social services through a performance-based contract.” Unlike social impact bonds, however, social impact investing is a large field that include any social benefit from the underlying business model. The combination of social impact investing and bonds is the new form of business model that is emerging in many developing countries around the world. The HBR wrote several articles about how social entrepreneurs are typically held back by traditional financing processes and structures, but in new markets where risk and opportunity are intertwined, innovative business models are capable of driving new areas of returns for investors with an open mind. This is currently the case with green bonds and has been with impact bonds.

Impact Investing in Different Markets

In the world if impact investing, The impact sector is growing, in a study conducted by the Global Impact Investment network, respondents in impact investing reported they grew their impact assets from USD 25.4 billion to 35.5 billion from 2013 to 2015. The report, found here, shows many trends in the sector by respondent types and tracks the growth of the sector. Some American examples include Goldman Sachs’ investments in community and urban development across the US including New Orleans , Chicago, and NYC.

While globally, Africa is seeing many similar impact investments. One being The Just Shea Program , a program that helps women shea harvesters of Ghana with several areas from providing safety gear that can be repaid through harvest shea nuts, to providing equipment to protect form poisonous snakes, and finally and importantly for economic reasons,  the creation of cooperative silos to increase the price per kilo paid to the harvesters.

In Africa, one of the value creation tools that African private equity can contribute to social impact businesses is the ability to bring their portfolio companies up to above-market standards of compliance and transparency, which in turn raises their value at exit. Investors can also help influence the political climate by investing in areas with strong legal standards and compliance thus creating reasons for government to create more favorable investment climates.

It seems that while impact investing may be difficult for traditional investment, there is a space in portfolios for this type of model, and as data emerges on the results, the potential for ROI is very viable as well as the potential to create positive socially responsible returns.

African and EU Partnership Framework Continues To Bolster Development Work

The recovering African markets are reopening the gateways not only for sustainable investment opportunities but also new impact investment, both for local players, as well as globally. This past July, The EU Africa Partnership  Civil Society Summit took place in Tunis to cover the ongoing priorities of the groups vision and roadmap. Among the top of this list of objectives were the focus on continued economic development, that includes policy and advisory support frameworks to help countries and investors with placements for projects throughout Africa. This can include process to help maintain transparency and identify and advise on financial risk mitigation.

As continued sustainable development assists in potential for commerce and trade, this means a better ability for strong performing sectors in West and East Africa to truly take the reigns of driving the future of their firms. Sidney Yankson, CEO of Ghana Capital Partners , who attended the EU Africa Partnership Summit in previous years, believes the following is true of this summit;

” Part of our firm’s objective is to not only drive investment opportunities, but to contribute to the ecosystem of society where we operate through sustainability activities. As we have seen fluctuations in the growth of markets not only here in West Africa but globally, we find the continued interest of such organizations very important to ensure sound investment and development support to local and foreign partners.”


GCP will continue to work with local and European partners in various sectors, in particular  with policy influencers and foundations across the region to share experiences and methods for success in this vital time for investment in renewable and infrastructure in Africa.

Creating Positive Futures and Social Impact

As far as Western Africa has progressed in implementing infrastructure, like many other developing regions, there is much work required ahead. Basic infrastructure in developing nations needs to be improved in many urban and rural regions to allow for economic development. For example, it is estimated that Ghana can save over 33 million USD/annually in already overburdened public sector energy grid-based costs by switching to solar street lights. (1)



Such innovative solutions not only help in developing nations, but also have come to play important roles in humanitarian crisis zones. Solar lanterns have been used in Syrian communities to provide lighting once grids have been destroyed by military activity. (2)




In a recent New York Times article, The Race to Solar in Africa, (3) the author traveled across rural areas in Africa to see first hand the impact that solar energy can have, and the author relayed the following:

  • Residents of a rural Ghana community could now safely store the vaccine for yellow fever,
  • Charge cell phones at home rather than walking to a bigger town,
  • Cold water was now available – solar enabled running of refrigerators, and so coldness was, for the first time, a possibility,
  • Electric fans which can squelch overwhelming heat.

Such uses can dramatically improve the living conditions as well as economic activities of communities. Farmers in some communities with new solar energy installations could now use advanced mobile phone and weather monitoring applications to help improve crop yield.

GCP and GCP Solar’s initiatives span across many sustianable charitable activities, including solar lanterns distribution. Like GCP, there are many other examples of active and dedicated foundations working in this area, and making excellent progress. Thus our aim is to be part of the shift towards sustainable and impactful investment and development of basic services supporting the growth of the promising economies in Africa.

  1. https://www.voanews.com/a/3938644.html
  2. https://phys.org/news/2017-02-ghana.html
  3. http://www.myjoyonline.com/opinion/2017/january-23rd/solar-street-lights-will-save-ghana-33million-a-year.php
  4. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/06/26/the-race-to-solar-power-africa


Sidney Yankson (CEO) attends a special presentation by the African Development Bank, the African Economic Outlook 2014, at New York University

Sidney Yankson (CEO) was invited to attend a special presentation by the Africa Development Bank (ADB) on 13 October 2014. The main theme of the evening was the global value chains and Africa’s industrialisation.

The event took place at New York University Africa House an interdisciplinary institute devoted to the study of contemporary Africa, focusing on economic, political, and social issues on the continent. The Africa Development Bank was founded in 1964 and has fifty-three African country shareholders. Their mission is to promote sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty in Africa.

Sidney commented that, “The ADB’s report provides a fantastic overview of the opportunities in Africa today.  Most of the countries they review have projected annual GDP growth in excess of 7%. That is phenomenal.

The ADB suggested that there are challenges to overcome, but in the long term African countries and companies will prevail.

The NYU professor suggested that Africa is resilient and will bounce back from the current Ebola crisis.

Therefore, the future looks bright, but there will be challenges.”

Besides the ADB special presentation, Sidney has attended a few other conferences whilst in New York and Washington. On 15 October Sidney was at a meeting in Washington DC discussing commercially operating minigrid systems with the US State Department, USAID, World Bank and the UN Foundation. The meeting allowed participants to recap on the High Impact Opportunity initiatives, membership and co-ordination. There were discussions about focusing on High Impact Initiatives and the upcoming input from DFID, African Development Bank and the World Bank.

Sidney will attend a further event on the 16-17 October that will comprise of a workshop focusing on proven private sector business models that are already in operation and leading the way in mini-grid development.

Ghana thinks big on small-scale solar

For almost five decades, hydroelectric power from the Volta region has been Ghana’s energy backbone, while the nascent oil and gas industry has recently risen up the agenda. But solar power could play an increasingly important role.

With over 5 million households off-grid, market potential for solar energy in Ghana is calling investors’ attention to expand mini-grids in rural and peri-urban areas.

Yet, business sustainability and return on investments remain question marks despite the attractive legal framework which followed Ghana’s Renewables Energy Act 2011. To date, modalities to offset feed-in tariffs are still unclear while doubts continue to cast over the capacity of Electricity Company of Ghana (the national electricity off-taker) to pay independent power producers (IPPs).
Some industry actors are however hopeful. Sidney Yankson, CEO of the Africa focused private equity boutique Ghana Capital Partners (GCP), currently developing a 28MW solar power plant (costing $56million), does not deny these arguments but remains strongly confident in advocating for solar. He told Africa Energy that solar energy is becomingly increasingly viable from a financial perspective also in Ghana, “both for commercial and residential purposes. The price of solar PV panels keeps decreasing and the appeal of a reliable energy source, powered by the sun, whose installation price will decrease – unlike the conventional electricity – cannot be underestimated.
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