Impact investing can help solve major social and environmental problems in West Africa, leveraging new sources of capital in places that lack sufficient government resources and development aid to address development challenges. A recent report by the Rockefeller Foundation and JP Morgan (2010) suggests that impact investments are emerging as an alternative asset class that could grow to represent a global market of US$ 500 billiona in five to ten years. The implications for West Africa are exciting. Now is the time to deepen our understanding, increase awareness, and foster dialogue on impact investing in the region.
Impact investing—making investments to generate positive impact beyond financial return—is not new to West Africa. However, few investors in the region identify themselves as impact investors or are familiar with the concept in those terms. This lack of awareness, coupled with other substantive challenges, could slow the development of the impact investment industry in the region. This report is the first comprehensive analysis ever conducted on the impact investing industry in West Africa. It aims to: (1) map the landscape of impact investing supply and demand in West Africa; (2) identify the substantive challenges that hamper the growth of the industry and recommend solutions for overcoming them; and (3) serve as a starting point for regional dialogue and local network development activities among impact investors.