IC-SVN has attended the Sankalp Africa Forum for the past four years, and as part of our partnership with SEAD, I had the privilege of attending the conference two years ago during one of our Investor Days: Nairobi trips. I was eager to return this year as part of our 2018 trip and am pleased to share five immediate takeaways from my time at #SankalpAfrica18:

  • The growth is encouraging
    The conference has quadrupled in size since the first convening five years ago. This is encouraging for what’s going on in East Africa and for what IC-SVN members from the States are seeking to do with their portfolios here. There also seem to be more entrepreneurs in attendance, leading to lots of meaningful conversations between capital providers and social enterprises. It’s starting to feel like the SOCAP of East Africa!
  • Face-to-face remains critical
    I love all things digital – case in point: I’m in the process of building out IC-SVN’s new online community platform – but the conference reminds me of how critical face-to-face interactions remain. The internet is a powerful tool to maintain relationships and move deals forward, but the opportunity to meet with, learn from, and collaborate alongside others in person together cannot be beaten.
  • The need for investor collaboration has never been more important
    This was a common thread in both formal sessions and informal conversations. I’m hopeful that the ecosystem’s growth and maturation will serve this need well. Additionally, more local investors must be incorporated into deals, and I appreciate how Intellecap facilitated conversations around this issue. IC-SVN would be delighted to welcome local angels into our growing community.
  • We will continue to see blended capital
    Many types of capital providers were represented at #SankalpAfrica18: angel investors, high net worth individuals, family offices, and foundations. Going forward, we must convene a diversity of capital at the table. Imperative to that success is better coordination among funders.
  • It’s time to innovate the types of investment structures being used
    One of IC-SVN’s 2017 investor education themes focused on investment structures, so I’m encouraged that this topic is being addressed on a larger-scale at conferences like Sankalp. I’m proud of IC-SVN investor members for innovating on investment structures, and I hope that we can continue to lead the way with bold and progressive approaches as more people join the momentum of what’s happening in the space, both domestically and in East Africa.

For those with interest in East Africa or emerging markets, what questions or ideas emerge for you? For those who attended #SankalpAfrica18, what takeaways would you add to this list? Leave a comment below, and let’s keep the dialogue going online!

from the “Collaborating for Impact: Aligning the Impact Investing Ecosystem” session

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