The World Bank & UNCTAD: Responsible Agricultural Investments Workshop 2017
Johannesburg, South Africa – On July 12th, the World Bank and UNCTAD hosted a Private Sector Workshop on Responsible Agricultural Investment day, aimed at Emerging Markets and in particular a strong focus on Africa. With Barak’s continuous drive to be the leading alternative financier in Africa and to maintain a focus on responsible investing with its borrowers and projects, two Barak members attended and found the discussions particularly interesting and useful.
As the longer-term Barak African Asha Impact Fund has officially kicked off and is being managed under the watchful eye of the Portfolio Manager Justin Murray, the pipeline of agricultural projects that Justin is currently assembling pointed strongly towards the notes that were taken from the workshop. In particular, the Knowledge Stream on Environmental and Social Impact Assessment and Management Plans was especially relevant and pertinent to Barak’s natural longer-term impact progression.
The Workshop was introduced with a case study on Olam International, the leading agri-business company with exposure in 70 countries worldwide, supplying food and industrial raw materials to over 23,000 customers worldwide with a team of over 70,000 employees. The underlying messages portrayed were the reliance the company has on the global supply chain as a whole, as well as the formation of personal relationships to conduct effective and efficient business. An interesting snippet was of the USD40 million worth of commodities coming into Africa each year, USD32 million come from the Big 5: Wheat, Dairy, Sugar, Rice and Soya.
The day was comprised of 4 key Knowledge Streams, namely: 01. Outgrower Schemes – How to increase the chances of success; 02: Screening Prospective Investors; 03: Environmental and Social Impact Assessment of Projects; 04: Promoting Inclusive Business Models. The underlying theme I found throughout the day was the necessity of having an assertive role in early and full engagement with communities that funder’s deal with in Africa; rather “under-promise and over-deliver” to be able to effectively engage, as well as that there is no “one size fits all” policy to be adopted.
The Workshop concluded with a cocktail networking session and B2B matchmaking service, and overall was hugely informative and professionally run. No doubt that Barak, particularly with the growth of the Asha Impact Fund, will take some key points away from the day in implementing its own responsible agricultural investment mandates into future financing and community involvement activities.