Invest in Africa Summit 2024

The Mastercard Foundation Fund for Resilience and Prosperity was present at the Invest in Africa Summit that was held between 16 and 17 April 2024 in The Hague, Netherlands, accompanied by a trade mission on 18 April 2024. The theme of the summit was “Unlocking Digital Transformation, Investments, and Trade Opportunities in Africa.” The event brought together investors from the European Union and African Continent, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), Ambassadors and Government Officials from South Africa, Netherlands, Nigeria, and Kenya, Creatives, and institutions that constitute the backbone of entrepreneurship across sub-Saharan Africa. The target sectors for discussions held during the conference included the finance and investment space, agriculture (agribusinesses practicing climate smart agriculture and circular agriculture), climate change, telecommunication and fintech, health sector, renewable energy, export markets, the role of the creative industry in job creation, real estate and housing development, amongst others. The Netherlands is the central point of trade in the E.U and plays a key role in access and distribution of imported goods throughout the region.

The Fund Engagement Partner, Smita Sanghrajka, on 16th April, moderated a high-level roundtable on ‘Funding mechanisms for upscaling sustainable agribusiness in Africa’ where she highlighted the Fund’s experience in the agribusiness value chain, the Agribusiness Challenge Fund, and the unique challenges the Fund aims to address especially in access to finance and access to markets, the Fund’s role in providing technical assistance and its objective of job creation for young women through the various interventions of the Fund designed to address the macro issues SMEs face. 

The Fund Program Director, Grace Mberia, on 16th April, participated in a panel discussion on ‘Doing Business in Africa’ where she spoke on the opportunities that the Fund is creating for SMEs in sub-Saharan Africa through the Agribusiness Challenge Fund and subsequent Climate Adaptation and Digital Economy Challenge Funds. The Fund Director also emphasized on leveraging of convenings where networks of SMEs are present and the importance of grant financing in enabling SMEs to scale up. The panelists also discussed identifying opportunities in Africa and how to find, analyse, and appropriately measure data in order to develop guidelines for an effective eco-system for investment in the continent.

The Fund Grants, Finance and Operations Manager, Winfred Kinuthia, also participated in a panel discussion on ‘The Impact of Climate Change on Africa and the need for Climate Financing’ where she highlighted the key role that grant funding plays in de-risking the climate impact space, catalysing the flow of climate finance from the private sector. Winfred spoke on the role of the Fund in creating jobs in the climate impact space through the SME portfolio that will be financed within the Agribusiness Challenge Fund’s climate smart agriculture aspect as well as the climate impact window.  Through capacity building on climate innovations these SMEs have the potential to grow sustainable careers for young people. The panelists also help in-depth conversations on investing in carbon-friendly solutions that benefit the African business environment and the technical assistance gap in the climate sector.

The Fund’s Communications and Convening Lead, Nashipae Leteipan, and Communications Associate, Bella Kimutai, were also present at the summit and identified and engaged with various audiences such as SMEs, industry leaders, and investors who are potentially relevant to the Fund interventions. All representatives were able to interact one-on-one with prospective participants of the Agribusiness Challenge Fund at the networking tables, share knowledge on the Fund’s overall objective of job creation for young women and men, youth with disabilities, and refugee youth, engage in discussions with industry leaders and investors on accessing the European export market for the SMEs that the Fund will  support, and were successful in expanding the Fund’s communication database with relevant contacts.

As part of the Trade Mission, the Fund team paid a visit to the Amsterdam Food Centre’s Fresh for You warehouse and Arasco International Food Trading as well as ANSU Plantae a large-scale grower and distributor of flowers and plants. This experience provided an understanding of some of the requirements and export measures, for agricultural products coming into the Netherlands. It allowed the Fund team to build a network for the access to markets component of the Connect intervention as well as to establish potential Technical Assistance service providers on export guideline for participants.

The event provided a great opportunity for the Fund to amplify the current Call for Proposals to the Agribusiness Challenge Fund to an audience as well as build on information and establish relevant contacts who can continue engaging with the Fund team on the various interventions.