Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that impact investing was a sound approach to balancing societal and economical inequalities for long-term structural change in Nigeria.
Osinbajo made the remarks during his keynote address at the hybrid Fourth IIF Annual Convening on Impact Investing organised by the Impact Investors Foundation (IIF) in Lagos.
The convening had as its title: “Showcasing Investment Opportunities in Nigeria”.
The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) explains impact investing as investments made into companies, organisations and funds with the intention to generate measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.
The Vice President said that liberal economies is assumed that growth including a decent standard of living for the people would be driven largely by commercial entities, motivated by profits who create jobs and paid taxes but too many were left behind and inequalities continue to grow.
“It is also evident that some of the most lucrative in the economy such as oil and gas, banking and finance simply do not product jobs commemorate with the profits they make.
“The sharp drop in the standard of living caused by the COVID-19 induced shock on the country’s economy and global economies, have not only further deepened existing inequalities, but pushed many more into extreme poverty.
“Neither government nor businesses can afford to ignore the huge social disparities and environmental deterioration but because the logic of profit motive has been a driver of innovation, wealth and growth is unassailable,” he said.
The VP commended some private companies who were already in the business of deploying investments that are meaningfully impacting farmers and investors.
He reiterated that government was keen on structural funds citing the green bond of the Federal Government in 2017, first in Africa and fourth in the world, adding that proceeds of the bond could only be used to finance climate or environmentally friendly projects approved by SEC.
The Chairperson of the 4th IIF Annual Convening, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, in her welcome address, stressed the need for impact investment to turn the fortunes of the economy through public and private sector participation.
Awosika said: “Impact investing is not about government buy with government, because it is investments that is after profits for investors but have that ability to have a more patient wait in returns in a way that it changes lives and social systems, impacting the lives of people and communities.
“To do that, there are roles government will play and the role the private sector (both local and international) will play. All the things we need to fill the gaps of where our needs are as a country, we cannot afford them as a country.
“We need a combination of capital from outside that has good at heart intentions, which is not just about coming to make profit but to create positive change in the lives of our people and yet get value and old return for their money,” she said.
The Chairman, Board of Trustees, IIF, mr Afolabi Oladele, said that every bit of policy that will make it easier to access financing and make infrastructure available for people to move, communicate and reduce cost of energy are key focus areas that need tot be dealt with to ensure impact investing thrived.
The Projects Lead/Head of Secretariat, IIF, Ms Etemore Glover, explained that the convening had opened conversations across the public and private sectors to understand the importance of channeling investments to priority sectors of the economy for sustainable growth.
The UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Mohamed Yahya spoke on catalysing Nigeria’s post COVID-19 recovery with impact capital: opportunities and challenges where highlighted the institutional bottlenecks,policy and regulatory environment inadequacies of impact investing.