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Pitching to investors: CAFI’s clean cookstove incubator-accelerator presented at Geneva’s Social Good Summit

In a challenging business environment, how can investors be attracted to sustainable agriculture and energy opportunities in Central Africa ?

Geneva, October 23rd: at this year’s edition of the Social Good Summit Geneva (SGSG), entrepreneurs from developing countries pitched their products and services in sectors such as health, education, financial inclusion and agriculture to investors. And for the first time, CAFI took advantage of the SGSG to organize a private investment meeting. Its goal? To draw attention to sustainable investment opportunities in the land-use sector in Central Africa. Ten participants with backgrounds in project development, impact investment, philanthropy and non-profit were selected to discuss how private investments can protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and sustainably manage forests (SDG 15) - specifically through clean energy and commodities initiatives.

This was an opportunity for CAFI to highlight the efforts of the governments of DRC and Gabon to improve their policy and institutional framework, notably through ambitious reforms in land use planning and land tenure security.

Vincent Weirda of the United Nations Development Capital Fund (the UN’s capital investment agency), presented the upcoming DRC clean cooking accelerator,  part of a 15 Million USD program recently approved by the DRC Steering Committee and to be funded by CAFI. The accelerator will help establish a market for clean cookstoves through de-risking and accelerating investments in local companies. “One objective of the program is to assist innovative clean cookstove companies with design, production, marketing, management and access to finance for their products, so that ultimately a commercially viable local market will develop”, Vincent explained.

Michael Schlup from the &Green Fund made a case for investments in deforestation-free commodity production. Presenting the fund’s investment strategy, he explained how the &Green Fund incorporates the environmental return of its investments in the pricing of its financial products. Currently capitalized at 125 Million USD, the &Green Fund offers long-term debt, project finance and loans to commodity companies that operate in selected jurisdictions with ambitious zero deforestation targets.  “Even in a country like Switzerland, agriculture remains a risky business,” Michael pointed out, highlitghting that the willingness of development finance institutions to provide risk capital for sustainable commodity production in the Central African region is still low.  

Without the private sector - be it innovative clean cooking companies, commodity enterprises committed to zero-deforestation or financing institutions looking for positive social and environmental impacts -  an economic transition to a forest friendly and green economy in the Congo Basin will not be possible. An improved institutional framework, for example through reforms in land-use planning and land tenure security, will help to make this transformation happen in the long-term.

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