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The Rockefeller Foundation Supports Impact Investing Policy Research in Africa

NEW YORK—The Rockefeller Foundation through its impact investing initiative is funding research in five sub-Saharan African countries which will contribute to two overarching goals: understanding the policy barriers and enabling environment for impact investing across Africa and recommending national policies to encourage the growth of the industry for the ultimate benefit of poor or vulnerable communities.

Despite market challenges and a preponderance of development aid, there is a growing regional opportunity for impact investing in Africa. While there is an appreciation of the scale of the multiplier effect impact investing can have, there is a lack of appreciation for the distinction of impact investing against the backdrop of other developmental finance and general private sector development. As a result, the benefits of impact investing are often overlooked and the objectives conflated with all general development finance. This work will forge a deeper and contextualized understanding and eventual application of impact investing as a subset of private sector activity in the respective countries.

The work will involve intensive research carried out by five grantees: Ghana Venture Capital Trust Fund (Ghana), Strathmore Business School (Kenya), Lagos Business School (Nigeria), Dalberg Global Development Advisors working in collaboration with APIX (Investment Promotion and Major Projects Agency) (Senegal) and Greater Capital (South Africa).

The grantees will conduct research and facilitate local stakeholder discussions which will seek to answer the following questions based on the specific country context:

  • What domestic social and environmental challenges can be addressed through impact investing?
  • How is impact investing distinct from general private sector development?
  • What are the barriers to impact investing at the policy level?
  • What policies would need to change to overcome these barriers?
  • What basic infrastructure would be needed for the policy or policies to succeed?

This work will result in the development of actionable policy recommendations for scaling the impact investing industry in all five countries. Africa Venture Capital Association, in collaboration with Bridges Ventures, will synthesize all of the country-level work into a single report that will also extrapolate key lessons for the impact investing field across the African continent.

This work was formally kicked off in May 2012, at a two day workshop hosted at The Rockefeller Foundation’s Africa Regional Office in Nairobi convened under the theme “Setting the Stage for Impact Investing Policy in Africa.”

Learn more about the meeting in this blog post from our partners at the Initiative for Responsible Investing at Harvard University, who helped facilitate the meeting.  When these projects are complete in mid 2013, the grantees will come once again together to discuss cross-cutting implications for the African continent and agree on ways for future collaboration.  As a whole, this portfolio of work will also lay the foundation for a coalition of stakeholders with a shared understanding of impact investing and its potential in their local context.


The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission to promote the well-being of people throughout the world has remained unchanged since its founding in 1913. Today, that mission is applied to an era of rapid globalization. Our vision is that this century will be one in which globalization’s benefits are more widely shared and its challenges are more easily weathered. To realize this vision, the Foundation seeks to achieve two fundamental goals in our work. First, we seek to build resilience that enhances individual, community and institutional capacity to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of acute crises and chronic stresses. Second, we seek to promote growth with equity in which the poor and vulnerable have more access to opportunities that improve their lives. In order to achieve these goals, the Foundation constructs its work into time-bound initiatives that have defined objectives and strategies for impact. For more information, please visit

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