ASIS 2023: Uniting global vision and local action for sustainable development outcomes in Africa.

Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith

Global Courant

From Nigeria to South Africa, from Egypt to Kenya, the African continent has emerged as one of the top investment destinations in the world. This surge in interest is fueled by factors such as abundant natural resources and a fast-growing consumer market, making Africa an attractive prospect for investors seeking new opportunities, growth potential and long-term returns.

However, the continent not only needs investments for monetary gains only, but also needs investments that deliver tangible and sustainable results. It is vital that investments not only contribute to the continent’s economic growth, but also to the overall standard of living of its citizens.

To attract investment on the continent for this sustainable future, the Sterling One Foundation will host the Africa Social Impact Summit (ASIS) – a gathering of private and public sector, civil society and development community leaders to find innovative sustainable solutions to development challenges in Africa.

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The summit co-convened in Nigeria by the United Nations has identified education, health, climate action, renewable energy, circular economy, food security and youth empowerment as critical sectors for social impact investors to work together to achieve the majority of the 17 SDGs. Themed “Global Vision, Local Action: Repositioning the African Development Ecosystem for Sustainable Results”, the summit will take place on August 10-11 at the Eko Convention Center, Lagos.

Speaking at the press conference at Sterling Towers, Marina, Lagos, MD Sterling Bank, Abubakar Suleiman explained that previously different organizations pursued their social impact goals independently, using different approaches such as charitable donations or investments, resulting in duplication, inefficiency and limited access to critical research. However, more communication and collaboration was needed.

“If you notice that the five sectors that we highlighted have the highest concentration of people. It is inevitable not to encounter any of the five sectors. You have probably come into contact with healthcare, educational institutions and personnel, agriculture or sustainable energy. We have strategically positioned it so that every human being can be affected by what we do at some point. And while we have funding, more importantly, we can use partnerships to accelerate more funding,” he revealed.

He also pointed out that the vision is to engage Africa in an organized and collaborative way, drawing on everyone’s interests and strengths. “We believe that by continuing to organize such summits in the future, we can build a powerful network that will struggle to withstand any challenge. Together we can make a significant and lasting difference in Africa’s social impact landscape,” he stated.

Olapeju Ibekwe, CEO of Sterling One Foundation, stated that this year’s summit aims to structure agreed solutions into a comprehensive approach with the potential for long-term impact on the continent by providing more opportunities for more people and equal access for all.

“As a wise man once said, if you want to go far, go alone. But we want to go further, so we have to go together, taking into account the benefit to the generations yet unborn. The ASIS is not just about a brand or the people in the room; it is about shaping a better society for future generations. This is ‘the why’ at ASIS. And the amazing partners you can see here are proof of that.” she said.

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Cocacola, Africa Venture Philanthropy Alliance, United Nations Global Compact Network Nigeria, British Council, Microsoft, UNDP, MTN and Nigeria Climate Innovation Center are some of the strategic partners for the summit.

Mr. Matthias Schmale, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the United Nations in Nigeria, spoke about the partnership and welcomed the partnership and noted that the convening of the Africa Social Impact Summit was timely and highly relevant.

He said that against the background of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the negative socio-economic impact this and other crises have had on the global 2030 development agenda, it is more urgent than ever to save the SDGs and accelerate their achievement in Nigeria and across the continent.

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He added that the Africa Social Impact Summit provides an excellent platform for key development actors in the country and on the continent to explore how we can move forward together and find standard solutions across borders.

In addition to panel discussions, the summit will also feature a deal room, where innovative entrepreneurs can pitch to a curated set of impact investors to access new investments for their companies to deepen their impact and scale their sustainable solutions.

Last year, the summit had over 3,000 registrants from 66 countries and had 13 entrepreneurs from four African countries pitching in the Deal Room. Like last year, ASIS 2023 will be hosted as a physical and hybrid event and promises to be more impactful and engaging than before. Registry here.

Sterling Bank: Walking the talk on sustainable development.

Many organizations face challenges in delivering on their sustainable development commitments, often making promises without keeping them. However, Sterling Bank stands out as an organization that really speaks out on sustainable development.

First, by actively working to close the gender gap in the continent, Ibekwe emphasized that they have built an exceptional list of investors with different categories of capital ranging from grants to stocks and other financial products. “We are in the process of establishing a $20 million fund as liquid capital targeting women in fintech and circular economy. We are in the final phase and already have some seed capital to get it started. This and more will be launched at the ASIS and then we will build from there,” she said.

Sterling as a corporate organization has also demonstrated its leadership in promoting renewable energy adoption in both Nigeria and the continent. A notable example of this dedication can be seen in the transformation of Sterling Bank’s headquarters. Last year the building underwent a major change, with approx 6,500 square meters of crystalline silicon PV glass adorn the gleaming surface of the Sterling Tower. This milestone marked the construction of the only high-rise building in Africa with this advanced renewable technology.

Abubakar Suleiman noted that while projects like the Sterling Tower are great for spreading the renewable energy gospel, building trust and attracting investment, the real solution lies in nurturing grassroots initiatives and promoting renewable energy growth at the community level. It is commendable that Sterling Bank is also an active player in this field. Last year, the bank signed a deal with CBN and partner solar to provide 100,000 solar energy to off-grid communities.

Sterling Bank also launched the first commercial electric vehicle power station – Qore, in Nigeria. Qore will offer purchase and financing of electric vehicles (EVs), EV charging stations, conversion of fossil fuel engines to EV engines, battery swap services for modular EVs, among others. The bank further partnered with Mustapha Gajibo, an electric bus manufacturer in Borno State, to produce solar-powered commercial buses for electric bus shuttle service in Lagos.

The bank is also partnering with the Association of Women in Kano State to fund approximately 100 solar-powered electric tricycles. These tricycles will serve as a sustainable and environmentally friendly means of transport for transporting people within the Kano metropolis. What makes this project spectacular is the active participation of women in every step of the value chain. From the mechanics responsible for maintaining the tricycles to the job applicants who oversee the loading process, women will play a vital role in driving this sustainable transportation initiative forward.

“The private sector is starting to do well and I know a little bit of government support will make it grow significantly,” Suleiman said.

With the Africa Social Impact Summit, Sterling One Foundation hopes to create realistic and effective frameworks that will make it easier for African countries to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals with the help of changemakers who address different challenges and drive behavioral change with their solutions.

Registry here.

ASIS 2023: Uniting global vision and local action for sustainable development outcomes in Africa.

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