Nishant Malhotra Founder of Middle Road OPC Pvt Ltd & The middle Road platform on the evolving Sustainable Finance sector

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The middle Road

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Sankalp Global Summit 2019 Enabling Sustainable Change

English connotation of the word Sankalp means oath or resolve to achieve a goal or objective. In Vedic numerology, Sankalp has expression number 11, underlining visionary outlook, artistic sensitivity and intuition. Driven within the realm of true grit and determination, Sankalp Forum lives up to its essence as a one-stop platform enabling one of the largest social enterprises gathering in the world. 

An Intellecap Initiative, the platform connects multiple social changer enablers within the social ecosystem. The forum fosters entrepreneurship and social innovation, especially in Agriculture, Food & Rural Business, Education, Clean Energy, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene, and Technology for Development. Over the years, the forum facilitated considerable social impact and spread across the globe in East Africa, South East Asia, and Europe with more than 11,000 stakeholders.

Actors within the Impact Sector

To understand actors within the Impact sector, it’s very important to make an overview of United Nations (UN), its role in driving sustainable development through specialized agencies, key international organizations and multilateral development banks. United Nations promotes human rights, peace & security, sustainable development & humanitarian assistance through its specialized agencies. In 2015, UN formed a framework of very ambitious, bold and targeted agenda in the form of seventeen sustainable development goals to address pressing problems by 2030. These goals became a guiding beacon and benchmark for international development. Along with SDGs, Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Action became the 2030 Development Agenda.

UN as an umbrella brand networked into different specialized agencies like UNDP (global development arm for sustained development), UN/DESA (home and pioneer of SDGs) and UN Capital Development Fund which focuses on mobilizing both private and public capital for least developed countries. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), headquartered in Paris, with 38 high-income members, is a major international organization driving sustainable development globally. It captures quantum of international aid through Official Development Assistance (ODA), a term coined by OECD’s Development Cooperation Directorate (DAC) in 1969 and a gold standard in international aid. OECD works with multiple actors within the development sector, including multilateral banks, policymakers and think tanks to layout foundation for social and economic well-being.

Multilateral Development Banks play a pivotal role in stimulating and channeling aid both concessional and less concessional capital into less developed, low income and emerging economies. These banks are created by governments including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) which tap capital markets with the aim to grow and deploy the capital for development purposes. Example, IFC, member of the World Bank Group, operates in private sector, leveraging $2.6B to administer a $285B in capital in financing businesses in developing countries till date. An act of god. Of course not, Welcome to the Art of Blending Capital.

MDBs further form the most vital component of fostering public private partnerships, a key partnership to attract $5-7T worth of capital in meeting SDGs target by 2030. MDBs work along with other major institutional impact actors including foundations, DFIs, impact investors for furthering development work both in private & public sector. DFIs are government backed institutions formed either as MDBs like IFC or bilateral aid agencies like USAID and DFID

The summit was represented with a set of diverse actors within the development sector ranging from impact investors, foundations, philanthropists, development financial institutions including bilateral aid agencies like USAID, academicians, policymakers, social entrepreneurs, angel investors etc. The gathering stimulated a fresh perspective on the recent innovation driving social change and impact both globally and locally. 

“Intellecap, an advisory arm of Aavishkaar-Intellecap Group, is a consulting company focussed on serving an underserved community.”

Intellecap is the consulting vertical of The Aavishkaar Group which includes the marquee impact investment manager Aavishkaar Capital. Started by Vineet Rai along with his wife Swati with a capital of $2100, today the group manages more than $1B in assets. The group is a major enabler and gamechanger within the impact ecosystem in India through its three different verticals Aavishkaar Capital, Aavishkaar Credit (Micro-finance) and Aavishkaar Services (Intellecap). Inset Nishant Malhotra founder of The middle Road with Tom Adlam. 

The global summit plenary dialogue kick-started with a discussion on building India’s Social Stock Exchange. Social Stock Exchange in various capacities has already been around with exchanges in Singapore, London, Canada, Brazil and South Africa. Key insights from the discussion included the following. 

First, devising a framework of parameters and guidelines for including companies within the upcoming social stock exchange. With little data or benchmark, this would be an uphill task, especially for standardizing variables for social impact. Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS), managed by GIIN sets out performance standard guidelines to measure and record outcomes for impact investing and can serve as a critical lead indicator. The other is the EU Standard for Social Impact, European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA).  

Second, pathways in developing a world-class social stock exchange, a guiding beacon for the rest of the world.  

“BFA Global Catalyst Fund launched its inclusive fintech start-up accelerator in India. The fund has invested in 25 inclusive fintech’s across Africa, Latin America and South Asia, including accelerating start-ups in India such as PayAgri and PayLatr. Fintech is one of the most critical sectors for start-ups around the world and boasts the most valuable start-up Ant Financial.”  Second, pathways in developing a world-class social stock exchange, a guiding beacon for the rest of the world.  Inset: Team Catalyst Fund 

Finally, yardstick in measuring the expectation of market return for investments in the social ecosystem. Majority of the Investors in India on par with global norms, expect superior risk-adjusted returns although a significant number do expect capital preservation on their investments. 

The summit had multiple sessions on topics related to sustainability and sustainable development goals. Blended finance discussion had an eclectic set of actors enabling and fostering social business. The discussion revolved around the implementation of development impact bonds in India, the emergence of masala bonds as a means of raising capital for sustainable good. The Middle Road interviewed Aarti Wig, Co-Founder, Yunus Social Business India and Tom Adlam, Team Leader Palladium/ DFID Impact Program.   

“BFA Global Catalyst Fund launched its inclusive fintech start-up accelerator in India. The fund has invested in 25 inclusive fintech’s across Africa, Latin America and South Asia, including accelerating start-ups in India such as PayAgri and PayLatr. Fintech is one of the most critical sectors for start-ups around the world and boasts the most valuable start-up Ant Financial.”  

Workshops on strategies on impact investing, the art of pitch making and more shared both practical and pedagogical take on the best way forward for sustaining and raising capital for businesses. 

The summit had broader discussions around its focus themes including on emerging sustainable fashion, impact investing across India, access to debt through the gender lens, India’s path to attaining the SDGs etc. The summit provided a broad and diverse perspective on how the social ecosystem is evolving in India and globally. Spread over two days and with multiple concurrent themes, it would take many bodies to fathom the entirety of the forum.  Leaving you with your holistic Sankalp (resolution)  for the 2020 along with a deck from the summit. 

 

References

Glossary of Key concepts and terms: World Bank Group Unlocking Investment and Finance in EMDEs

 

 

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