Impact investing in Africa is in these days, with numerous established firms and startups looking to figure out how to blend strong financial returns with a social or environmental impact.
Looking to add to the emerging literature on the topic, our latest in the series of Developing World Alternative Finance reports examined how impact investing in Africa has developed to date. The data for the report comes from the Capital Finder, which you can try out for free on our site.
Our data revealed some interesting findings. One of the headline charts is simply the top ten countries for impact investing in Africa — as in, the countries with the most active investors.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Kenya led the continent with 110 funders, and East Africa, in general, is ahead of other regions. (Note that our definition includes impact investors who are based abroad but are active in the country.) This makes sense — Nairobi is a regional hub with a creative and entrepreneurial workforce that has attracted much attention from all kinds of investors, not just the impact-minded ones.
Digging more into the numbers, however, we did find a few surprises. One of the biggest was the comparison of impact investors looking at agriculture versus those looking at renewable energy. The chart below ranks the top 10 countries for renewable energy impact investors, and compares it with the number of agriculture-focused impact investors in each of the countries.
In all 10, agriculture was much more appealing to investors. This is despite the numerous articles and reports that have trumped up the potential of renewables in the continent.
We decided to compare our data with another data point — Google Trends for renewable energy vs. agriculture searches in Kenya over the last five years.
It’s an imperfect comparison, but it does seem to explain a little why agriculture is more popular among impact investors — renewable energy is still far from top of mind for most people in the country.
It’s an interesting finding, and we’ll continue to look more into the findings to try to identify why there aren’t more impact investors in Africa considering renewable energy. We’ll also continue to look into Google Trends as a potential data point for our database — perhaps we can find some interesting correlations among the two. If you have any questions about the data or our Capital Finder, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until then, make sure to read the full report we put out last week, below. (You can also download the high quality version here.)Sept Final2