June 24, 2024

Nigerian NABII Launches Report, Recommends Unlocking Pension Funds for Impact Investment

4 min read

… Nigeria has limited capacity to provide equity funding, grants, low-cost debt financing and patient capital for MSME

L-R: Chief Economist at NESG, Dr Olusegun Omisakin; CEO of the Pension Fund Operators Association in Nigeria, Agudah Oguche; the Sustainability Specialist at the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), Lolade Awogbade and the CEO, Nigerian National Advisory Board for Impact Investing, Etermore Glover, speaking on the research findings at the launch of the report at the 6th Annual Convening on Impact Investing…in Lagos.

The Nigerian National Advisory Board for Impact Investing (NABII) has today launched its report, “Investing for Impact in Nigeria: A Deep Dive into Agriculture, Education, and Health Sectors”. It reveals that the Nigerian financial market has limited capacity to cater to MSME funding demands such as equity funding, grants, low-cost debt financing and patient capital.

The report unveiled at the 6th Annual Convening on Impact Investing in Lagos on Wednesday, provided recommendations for investing in MSMEs, and women-owned businesses, and unlocking pension funds to mobilise capital to drive growth in these sectors.

The study conducted by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and NABII, supported by the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG), OTT Impacto and funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) found that most impact investment in Nigeria comes from international investors and the deals are limited compared to the demand while local investors have the perception that these investments do not translate into financial returns.

It provides valuable insights into investing for impact with policy recommendations for unlocking the potential of the Agriculture, Education, and Health sectors. The report contributes to the mainstreaming of impact investing in Nigeria and attracting private capital towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“This report is an essential step toward understanding the enabling conditions for unlocking investment for impact in Agriculture, Health, and Education. The Impact Investors Foundation and its partners are committed to improving the awareness, stakeholders’ acceptance and development of enterprises for impact funds,” said Etemore Glover, Chief Executive Officer of the NABII.

She added that the report will “further set out the required policies, interventions, and collaboration among key stakeholders that can take the Impact Investing market in Nigeria to the next level.”

The report found that the agriculture (USD$799.8 million), financial services (USD$729.69 million) and energy sectors (USD372.71 million) have been the most consistent destinations of impact investment for Development Finance Institutions over the past five years while deployment into Education and Health sectors have halted since 2018. The government DFIs include the Bank of Industry (BoI), Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), Nigerian Import Export Bank (NEXIM), Bank of Agriculture (BOA), and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) while the private DFIs are the commercial banks.

The study revealed the allocation of pension funds to impact investing-related asset classes has been significantly poor and recommended the inclusion of impact investing criteria in investment guidelines for pension funds, increased asset allocation to impact investing products; an upgrade of FUND I and VI for impact investing market and approval of direct investment in listed local companies that are ESG-complaint.

Speaking at a panel session for the launch of the report, the CEO of the Pension Fund Operators Association in Nigeria, Agudah Oguche, said research conducted by the association showed that pension operators are interested in investing in impact-focused businesses but are more concerned about the safety and returns of their investment.

Agudah said, “More than 60 per cent of them want to invest in infrastructure and impact but the challenge is the structure. We are engaging them to be able to get that feedback to the market in terms of their preferences. Essentially, they are interested in the safety of their investment and returns and impact. Though impact is important but its not the top priority because we operate in a competitive industry.”

Also speaking, the Chief Economist at NESG, Dr Omisakin, pointed out that evidence-based research was at the core of any policy that aims to reduce poverty and have a more inclusive economy.

He said that one of the learnings from the study is the need to “ask the right questions to understand the critical stakeholders.” “It has strengthened our advocacy messaging and the discovery of new ways to attract private capital. Collaborating on this research helped us to get ideas from everyone to create a strong narrative and context,” he added.

Also speaking on the funding model of the bank, the Sustainability Specialist at the DBN, Lolade Awogbade, explained that a subsidiary of DBN, Impact Credit Guarantee, was established in 2019 to empower banks to lend to MSMEs.

She explained,“The model that DBN runs is wholesale and does not have a direct relationship with the beneficiaries. How successful MSMEs are is highly dependent on how prepared they are when they approach these financial institutions.”

The launch of the Investing for Impact in Nigeria report is a significant milestone for the development of the Impact Investing market in Nigeria.  The report’s insights and recommendations will help to inform policymakers and other stakeholders on how to create a more conducive environment for Impact Investing to flourish.

The full report is available for download here: Investing for Impact in Nigeria: A Deep Dive into Agriculture, Education, and Health Sectors

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