Mobilizing Private Capital for African Higher Education: Essential for Accelerating the SDGs

Financing the higher education of African students, including in global universities, can be structured to attract private capital.

Last week, I was humbled to be a speaker at the “FT Investing for Good USA: Mobilizing Private Capital to Meet the SDGs,” an event by Financial Times Live in New York. Together with John Duong, Managing Director of Lumina Impact Ventures; Jake Edwards, Director of Social Investments at Social Finance; and Jeff Senne, Purpose and Responsible Business Leadership Strategy and Implementation Leader at PwC and moderated by Sarah Murray, Specialist Writer on Sustainable Development at the Financial Times, we spoke about a subject that is essential for me and the work I do at 8B Education Investments—Financing Education.

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A light-hearted takeaway? The importance of wearing pocketed clothes on FT panels! I did not receive that memo, as a result my body pack for the microphone was hooked to my boots.

More importantly, however, are the following reflections from our panel and what I learned:

— Sarah Murray put me on the spot: do more Africans in global spaces not result in “brain drain”? My conviction is that those who coined the idea of “brain circulation” got something right: Africa’s global human capital is essential for the continent’s integration in the knowledge economy of the 21st century.

— I was struck by how much focus there was on measurement: too much, too little, too unstandardized. I recalled my days in global health, when the tyranny of indicators—some countries were expected to report to donors against hundreds of indicators—was called out as having become counterproductive. There might be some lessons to be learned from other sectors on how to get this measurement story right, I think.

— Our message: financing the higher education of African students, including in global universities, can be structured to attract private capital. Such education can further accelerate progress across many SDG targets, beyond those specifically related to education, research, and capacity building. For example, specific higher education pathways raise innovation capacity and impart specialized skills that can have a direct impact on climate change (SDG13), inform energy transitions (SDG7), and increase productivity in food and agriculture sector (SDG2).

Africa’s global human capital is essential for the continent’s integration in the knowledge economy of the 21st century.

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The conference speakers included many important voices and ideas, including:

— Dr. Raj Shah of The Rockefeller Foundation, who said “There is a tremendous difference between ‘labeling’ and ‘doing;’ labeling is a statement of intent; doing is delivering tangible impact.”

— Sir Ronald Cohen of The Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG), who said we need “to move from the invisible hand to the invisible heart of the market.”

— Linda Rottenberg of Endeavor, who said “If you are measuring 40 impact metrics on one portfolio company you are measuring none—focus less on limiting metrics and more on businesses that are solving real people’s problems at scale in a sustainable way.”

— Dan Harple caught everyone’s attention with his truly powerful presentation on the use of big data to measure impact.

— And it was standing room only in the panel on financing SDGs with a very interesting and insightful discussion from Alex Hokanson of Tiedemann Advisors, Elizabeth Littlefield of Albright Stonebridge Group and Susan Mac Cormac of Morrison & Foerster.

For example, specific higher education pathways raise innovation capacity and impart specialized skills that can have a direct impact on climate change (SDG13), inform energy transitions (SDG7), and increase productivity in food and agriculture sector (SDG2).

Grateful to Sarah Murray for her thought leadership on this “Investing for Good” series of events, and for the amazing lineup, and to Gillian Tett for her important work on “Moral Money.”

Original Article Here:  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/mobilizing-private-capital-african-higher-education-bosire-dphil/

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