Achieving Social Impact through Blended Finance: Discussions and Key Messages from the 2019 Skoll World Forum

The 2019 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship with the theme “Accelerating Possibility” took place between the 9th -12th April in Oxford, England. This annual event brought together relevant thought leaders and innovators, key to shaping and creating the discourse of possibilities in development from all over the world with representation from social enterprises, NGOs and relevant stakeholders from government, DFIs and academia.

It is no longer news that public and social sector financing have been identified as inadequate for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030, and as a result there is an urgent necessity to find alternatives to bridge the financing gap.

Impact investment is an emerging approach to financing social enterprises that endeavours to achieve ‘blended value’ by delivering both impact and financial returns. Our MD, Kola Masha was a part of the plenary session discussing on the topic “Filling the SDG Funding Gap with Blended Finance”. The discussions centred around the size of the financing gap, current trends of what is working, what the future of blended finance looks like, and what areas to improve upon.

As an implementing organisation, Kola Masha, representing Babban Gona brought first-hand experience and knowledge to the discussion. Since inception, Babban Gona has been able to leverage blended finance to achieve significant impact in delivering low-cost agricultural inputs, financial services and post-harvest marketing services to rural smallholder farmers, achieving impressive impacts (averages of 2x increase in yield and 3x increase in income) as well as significant improvements for other livelihood indices  such as food security, health and nutrition, and  education.

A few key messages from the session were:

  • Being a social enterprise and running a successful business can be a challenge if funding organizations are only looking for short term financial returns. However, with the right investors, long term goals and returns on investment can co-exist.

Kola Masha, M.D Babban Gona

  • The structure of financial markets must re-shaped to have a more ‘forward looking’ investment perspective. Seeing the SDG’s as an opportunity can serve as an incentive for the financial world to invest.

Achim Steiner, UNDP

  • A better understanding of the markets, and increased focus on domestic investors and resources could help.

Samuel Choritz, Policy Adviser, U.N. Capital Development Fund.

  • Creativity is a key requirement in successfully structuring blended finance deals

Aliz-Ines Lebec, Executive VP (Investor Relations) WaterEquity


For more on this, read:

Blended finance’s role in SDGs depends on these changes by Adva Saldinger 

From purpose to personal, social entrepreneurs struggle to strike a balance by Sarah Shearman