My Summer Internship in Impact Investing in Africa
During my summer internship at INSEAD, I had the opportunity to work at AfricInvest, based in Tunis, Tunisia.
AfricInvest was founded in the early 1990s and is an investment and financial services company. Uniquely positioned as one of the most experienced private equity investors on the continent, AfricInvest has dedicated investment teams focused on Africa, and employs more than 100 professionals in 11 offices. AfricInvest has raised USD 2 billion across 21 funds and benefits from strong, long-term support from both local and international investors, including leading development finance institutions in the United States and Europe.
I spent my internship in the Responsible Investing team which is the arm that looks after impact measurement and management in the company.
From my experience, I took away four lessons:
1. It is possible to drive real-world impact while making financial returns
AfricInvest invests in a wide range of sectors from financial services to agriculture, mobility and healthcare. From digitising the agricultural value chain to enhancing digital inclusion through payment solutions, impact creation is at the core of AfricInvest’s DNA. At the same time, AfricInvest provides risk-adjusted returns to its own investors, making it a clear example of ‘business as a force for good’.
2. Impact measurement and management (IMM) is advancing rapidly but more can still be done
Players such as AfricInvest have taken great strides in developing IMM approaches, whether it be through formalising Theories of Change or advancing impact data collection and analysis. But there is still room for further action across the impact investing industry with the need to provide quantification of more outcome indicators.
I am extremely excited by the potential for IMM to grow and the new creative ideas that will help advance the industry and enable the impact investing industry to meet its full potential.
3. Investing in AfricInvest’s target markets requires a different and patient approach
From having conversations with portfolio companies in different sectors and in different countries, it became clear to me that investment approaches must be tailored to the local context. Investors need to be flexible and understand the environment they operate in. In this sense, AfricInvest is a leader. It offers its investees rich investment expertise on the African continent, alongside a local presence and network.
4. Tunisia is a beautiful country with the most welcoming people I have ever worked with
I was asked by my boss what stood out to me most about Tunisia. I was stuck on how to answer as multiple things came to mind. First, the beauty of the country is clear, from its stunning beaches to its gorgeous neighbourhoods. I hugely recommend it to anyone.
Second and even more importantly, the team I met there were incredibly warm and welcoming. They took it upon themselves to organise trips, meals, drinks and tours around the local sites.
Even though I was just on the internship for eight weeks, I felt fully part of the team. I will make every effort to keep in touch with the team wherever I go next.