The coronavirus pandemic has made it clear, how interconnected our global health, economic and financial systems are. There is no doubt that efforts to tackle the pandemic must be global. This is an important lesson that an increasing number of investors, regulators and policy-makers are learning. It is also of great relevance for the fight against the impending climate emergency. 

Global knowledge sharing needed to build back better

Much more financing will be required to enable global societies to build back better after the pandemic and enable a transition to a net-zero carbon world, which considers the consequences of that transition on people and communities. Impact investing — investment that delivers a positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return — will play a critical role in bridging this financial gap.

It will be important that capital seeking to make an impact flows to societies that may otherwise struggle to access finance to implement such initiatives, including in the Global South.  Needless to say, this will require significant coordination, as well as global sharing of knowledge, expertise and best practices among impact investing practitioners, investors, policy makers and other actors the field of impact investing . 

We are offering an interactive peer-to-peer learning platform

This is why, in 2020, the Institute launched a Knowledge Exchange Series. The virtual roundtable events bring together the local organisations that underpin the global impact investing architecture – the National Advisory Boards (NABs) on impact investing. NABs are an essential part of the impact investing  community, functioning as national coordination hubs for impact investing in 33 countries

Like the Impact Investing Institute, the NABs bring together different actors within their national impact investing community, including investors, social enterprises, incubators, philanthropic foundations, policy makers, intermediaries and other key actors. 

Each roundtable of our Knowledge Exchange Series focuses on a specific theme identified jointly with NABs around the world. The topics range from organisational governance and sustainability to identifying how NABs can best act as market navigators for impact investors and potential investees. While the roundtables are not public, we share a summary insights document with key messages and practical takeaways for each session, which can be found here.  

Having only joined the National Advisory Board in Zambia a few months ago, the Knowledge Exchange Series have proved very helpful, both at a personal level to help me better understand the impact investment narrative, as well as at a corporate level in learning lessons on how and what other NABs across the world are doing to fully develop and expand the impact investment ecosystem.

Andrew Kazilimani, National Advisory Board for Impact Investment Zambia  

The value of sharing experiences and challenges

As the Institute is the oldest standing NAB globally, there is significant interest in how we as an organisation have tackled some of the challenges commonly faced by NABs. However, it is individual NABs that have the strongest insights into their own local markets and are best able to design strategies to tackle them.

The Knowledge Exchange Series is therefore designed as an interactive peer-to-peer learning platform, providing a space for NABs, as well as other market-building organisations, to openly share experiences and challenges. 

Unlocking knowledge of local ecosystems

These facilitated exchanges unlock the in-depth knowledge of local ecosystems around the world and also bring in external voices such as investors and intermediaries to build bridges between local actors, in particular in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia and those in the Global North. 

We have occasionally featured speakers such as Maria-Teresa Zappia, Chief Impact and Blended Finance Officer, and Deputy CEO of BlueOrchard Finance and Annie Roberts, Founding Partner at Open Capital Advisers to gain practical and frank advice on how NABs can make themselves as useful as possible to stakeholders such as investors, entrepreneurs and intermediaries. 

Malaysia’s NAB Task Force has greatly benefited from the opportunity to learn from peers in other countries and offer our own learnings through the Knowledge Exchange Series. We find the tips and tools particularly helpful in helping us think through our stakeholder engagement strategies and designing a suitable model for our complex and nascent ecosystem.

Shariha Khalid Erichsen, Malaysian Impact and Digital Economy Alliance (MyIDEAL) NAB Task Force 

In the upcoming sessions of the Knowledge Exchange Series, we will look forward to discussing how NABs can build the local impact investing skills of local actors (our Learning Hub being one example), how they can best engage government and policy makers and work with specific types of investors such as development finance institutions. 

Initiatives and resources that have been featured in the Knowledge Exchange Series

Knowledge Exchange Series Number 2: NAB governance and sustainability 
Knowledge Exchange Series Number 3: Engaging the supply side of capital and responding to investors’ needs 
Knowledge Exchange Series Number 3: Supporting demand-side actors