In a bid to ignite substantial growth and progress across the African continent, entrepreneurs and inventors gathered at the Africa Social Impact Summit (ASIS) Deal roomwith a compelling plea for a $49 million investment infusion to propel their innovative businesses to new heights. The two-day summit, co-convened by the Sterling One Foundation and the United Nations in Nigeria, convened key players from government, the diplomatic community, civil society, and both the public and private sectors, sparking conversations geared towards propelling impactful action in Africa.
Addressing a mammoth crowd, Mrs. Olapeju Ibekwe, the CEO of Sterling One Foundation, underlined the summit’s mission to be more than just a talk shop. She emphasized that ASIS was a catalytic engagement aimed at creating a lasting positive impact on the African landscape. At the heart of the summit were the remarkable pitch sessions by 18 carefully selected businesses that spanned various sectors, from health to waste recycling, agriculture, and education, showcasing the innovative prowess that Africa holds.
These finalists, hailing from South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria, collectively presented investment bids totaling approximately $49.6 million. The intention behind these bids is to expand production capacities and drive business growth, addressing critical challenges across the continent. The investment landscape is currently under the scrutiny of potential investors who are diligently assessing promising ventures.
Ibekwe’s passionate address mirrored the conviction that underpinned the summit’s mission. ASIS 2023 marked its second edition with a resounding commitment to building partnerships and mobilizing investments that would accelerate the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa. With a global timeline ticking toward the realization of these goals, the summit provided a pivotal platform for diverse stakeholders to discuss successful strategies and recalibrate efforts where necessary.
The summit was graced by prominent figures such as former President of Malawi, Joyce Banda, Consuls-General of the British High Commission, USA, Germany, and Denmark, along with experts from various fields. The resounding theme, “Global Vision, Local Action: Repositioning the African Development Ecosystem for Sustainable Outcomes,” resonated with attendees who actively engaged in discussions that ranged from policy initiatives to practical implementations.
Ibekwe expressed her optimism about the positive outcomes the summit would yield, anticipating numerous partnerships and innovative collaborations that would emerge from these dynamic exchanges. Beyond immediate results, she had her sights set on empowering existing social impact initiatives in rural communities across the continent, fostering a ripple effect that would spread positive transformation.
With the private sector’s intentional involvement in owning the SDGs, there is renewed hope for action. The event highlighted the urgent need to break away from business-as-usual approaches to tackle the persistent challenges facing Africa. Notably, Abubakar Suleiman, Managing Director and CEO of Sterling Bank Limited, emphasized the essence of relationships formed during the summit. He underlined how these connections would catalyze a transformative outcome, paving the way for improved resource utilization, problem-solving, and collaboration.
The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, in Nigeria, Mr. Matthias Schmale, stressed that the promise of the 2030 Agenda hangs in the balance and advocated for a collaborative approach that unites governments, NGOs, civil society, and the private sector. He urged CEOs and investors to embrace the 10 principles of the UN Global Compact, foster gender equality, and prioritize social impact considerations alongside profit motives. Schmale also pledged support to the Nigerian Government’s sustainable development initiatives, highlighting the potential of Public-Private Partnerships as a means to expedite major development projects.
As ASIS 2023 draws to a close, it leaves behind a trail of aspirations, partnerships, and commitments to action. The spotlight is now on entrepreneurial ventures seeking investments that hold the potential to catalyze transformational growth across the continent. Africa’s development journey, spurred by collaboration and innovation, continues to gain momentum as stakeholders unite to achieve shared goals.