Creating a Ghanaian Impact Economy

Content Manager • 12 December 2018



Remarks by Ms. Gita Welch, Resident Representative (a.i.), UNDP Ghana at the “Ghana Impact Dialogue: Creating a Ghanaian Impact Economy”

Accra, 6th December 2018



Honourable Minister of Finance, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta;

GSG Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Amit Bhatia;

Representatives from government;

Representatives from the impact investment community;

Representatives from private sector and civil society;

Ladies and Gentlemen,


          This has been a very exciting dialogue. I am very pleased to offer a few reflections on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme in Ghana. 

          For those of us, who are not normally part of the impact investment and social enterprise space, this dialogue was important for the insights that it provided and the questions that it raised. We need to find fora to continue the conversations and to contribute to bridging the gap between policy makers and implementation agencies and the private sector and investment communities to move beyond traditional partnerships to enhance shared value. All sides need to effectively evolve for these conversations to be productive and for us to collectively move away from business as usual. 

          As we have heard, impact investing is crucial to achieving the SDGs as it brings more philanthropic and private money into the development system to ensure sustainable change; because it gets us to think differently about how we can better support people, the planet, thereby leave no one behind; because it changes our mindset to be more development outcome-based with a focus on problem solving and identifying changes in approaches, and providing the date and feedback that will make it easier to replicate successful interventions. Lastly, it brings both traditional and non-traditional funders directly in dialogue at whole of government levels. 

          These points are anchored in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which underscore the imperative for us to focus on sustainable financing pathways that support long-term solutions to our complex development challenges. 

          They are also very relevant for a lower middle income country like Ghana, where traditional types of development financing such as domestic public resources and ODA will remain critical to achieving the country's domestic priorities and the SDGs, but where philanthropic, private and blended capital will increasingly play an important role. As we have seen both yesterday and this morning, Ghana has been proactive in diversifying its focus and becoming more fit for the future in this regard. It is in the process of articulating what the vision of Ghana beyond aid will mean in practice and it has initiated a dialogue on investment for the SDGs. 

          The UN Secretary General's recently launched the Strategy for Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which lays out the various actions the UN will take to support countries to accelerate financing the SDGs and "complement efforts being made by champions of financing for sustainable development and longer-term investments from the private sector, philanthropy and other sources of innovation". 

          As the Secretary General's strategy points out, we are not yet at the stage of having globally accepted standers to guide the evolution of innovative financial instruments for sustainable impactful finance such as green bonds, sustainability bonds, SDG bonds or other innovative instruments. This is an area that the UN is working on to foster a deeper understanding of the role of public policy in developing a sustainable financial system and the development of the standards that can facilitate the deepening of the markets for sustainable finance. 

          As the development arm of the UN development system, the United Nations Development Programme has been exploring how to engage and support efforts in this space, including at country levels. As underscored by our Administrator, the United Nations Development Programme, in partnership with governments, philanthropy, businesses, investors, communities, civil society and academia, seeks to amplify and accelerate this momentum for market change into transformation. 

          At the recent UN General Assembly, the United Nations Development Programme launched the SDG Impact Facility which aims to support business to adapt and transform their core strategies to deliver financial, social and environmental performance, and to use the SDGs as the basis for engaging in untapped markets. It includes a focus on brokering innovative partnerships with the private sector, piloting philanthropy platforms for the SDGs, and assisting countries with exploring blended finance instruments, green bonds and corporate contributions to grow the range of investments which are more readily aligned to the SDGs because they already incorporate social and environmental considerations. 

Through this initiative, UNDP will: 

  • Develop a SDG Impact Seal and Certification Training Programme through which we expect investors and enterprises will be able to authenticate their alignment with the SDGs (impact management).
  • Provide investors insights into local industries, entrepreneurs, and projects that advance the SDGs (impact intelligence); and 
  • Leveraging UNDP's in-country presence for network development and matchmaking between investors and enterprises working to achieve SDGs (impact facilitation).

          In Ghana, the United Nations Development Programme has been one of the early actors in developing the impact investing ecosystem. We are currently targeting or engaging the private sector in different but interrelated ways. 

          First of all, we recognise that innovative financing requires innovative ways of doing things. It calls for different types of partnerships and approaches with a clear recognition of the varied contexts for implementation. Our focus is increasingly on the formation of multi-stakeholder platforms to solve complex development challenges through processes that involve new forms of cooperation and co-creation for transformative impact. Please allow me to mention two examples. 

  • The SDG Philanthropy Platform, a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, working with partners established the Philanthropy and Impact Investing Network Ghana (PIING), a network of corporate foundations, with UNDP as a facilitator and thought leadership partner. The Network drives and provides the space for foundations to engender partnerships in supporting innovations within the SDGs either through grants or impact investing for transformative impact.
  • The United Nations Development Programme is also facilitating the development of the Multi-Stakeholder Waste Resource Platform as a digitally-enabled one stop shop solution to connect key stakeholders with data and technological options to promote waste recovery in a larger circular economy context. One of the key objectives is to demonstrate the potential economies of scale for waste recovery businesses whilst meeting social and environmental needs. The data and innovative tools made available by the platform are expected to help to increase investor confidence in the waste sector through the ability to make scientific-based economic decisions and bring in needed resources necessary for scaling-up and will facilitate collaborations with research institutions and government for the development and testing of innovative solutions. 

          Secondly, we are working directly with Ghanaian and international businesses to promote their involvement in inclusive markets and delivering green products and services, hence enhancing their contribution to the achievement of the SDGs. For example, we have been working with Mondelez International to promote a more environmentally friendly production of cocoa. We have also been facilitating South-South Cooperation and match-making opportunities between businesses from Ghana and other countries from the South. One of them has materialised in a joint venture that will establish a solar PV manufacturing plant in Ghana. More recently, UNDP signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ENI, the Italian oil and gas company, to promote the achievement of SDG7, SDG13 and SDG15. 

          Thirdly, we recognise that mobilising finance for impact investments is often identified as a key obstacle. In this regard, the United Nations Development Programme has been working with governments, the private sector and foundations to develop bankable projects to improve the deal flow for impact investing. To cite an example, in 2016, the United Nations Development Programme worked with Finnish Innovation Fund (SITRA) to implement social outcome contracting using Social Impact Bonds to address the challenge of youth unemployment in Serbia. In addition, in close collaboration with the Private Enterprise Federation and the Ministry of Environment, we are building capacity of the local private sector to mobilise climate finance for investments that can clearly make an impact for Ghana's transition towards a low-carbon and climate resilient society. 

          Finally, let me conclude my remarks by thanking GSGII for giving me this opportunity to share these thoughts. For us as United Nations Development Programme, we believe that using the SDGs as an organising framework, impact investing could be a lightning rod for driving powerful social change. Through the process of allocating resources towards products, services and organisations that create social impact, the private sector could make returns to expand the interest in making purposeful, replicable, measurable and impactful investments which would have powerful consequences for social change within our communities. 

          As the SDGs emphasise localised implementation, the United Nations Development Programme remains committed to work with the private sector, philanthropy and government in developing a robust impact investing ecosystem in Ghana, in line with the vision of "Ghana beyond aid." We look forward to next steps and contributing to taking these conversation and potential actions forward.