On the first day, it was dead outside the conference centre. The shuttles buses dropped us off and returned to the hotel. By the second day, a few market stalls had appeared selling T-shirts and a few typical souvenirs. On day 3, the market had continued to grow and by day 4, there was enough outside, that I could find plenty of souvenirs to bring back for friends in Luxembourg.
Yet it was not just outside the conference centre that business had taken off. On day 4, the SAM held its investor fair. The conference hall changed and was replaced by stands representing all the household names in impact investment, from ADA to Symbiotics. The MFIs from across Africa then had their chance to fundraise. Over the course of the jam-packed day, our investment team held over 30 meetings – and we are looking to see exciting projects to follow.
I am not part of the investment team, and I spent the day rather differently, examining the social performance of our MFIs. Over the course of the day, I spoke with EBO, SIPEM, BIMAS, PEBCO and Attadamoune Microfinance. I discussed their progress and heard about various initiatives that they had adopted.
Particularly interesting was the number of MFIs that noted that climate change was becoming an increasing reality for their clients. From unpredictable flooding to droughts, many of the rural MFIs were noticing clients taking a direct hit. The MFIs are beginning to look at initiatives to improve water storage and farming management practices to support their clients with climate adaptation.
As I discussed this, business was still booming in the newfound marketplace outside. We hope that many partnerships spring from Day 4s negotiations which will keep this entrepreneurial spirit thriving!