How to finance innovative young entrepreneurs

Devex talks to Maria Shaw-Barragan, director of global partners at the European Investment Bank, about how blended finance is having an impact on sustainable development.

Africa has some of the world's fastest growing economies and a young, rapidly growing population. But a consistent trend in young graduates deciding against returning home at the end of their studies is a threat to Africa's progress. How can investment in entrepreneurship be sustainable in order to help provide job opportunities and improve social inclusion long term?

Boost Africa, a joint initiative between the African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank, aims to harness the continent's potential by investing in local venture capital and seed funds, which in turn finance innovative young entrepreneurs — for example, providing credit to farmers through basic mobile phone technology.

Maria Shaw-Barragan, director of global partners at EIB, told Devex that these kinds of initiatives can get much further through blended finance mechanisms.

“The innovation is probably in the financial techniques that we're using, in the way in which we are blending public grant funding that would otherwise be used only once,” she said. “We are using it as seed capital to produce much smarter finance … finance that is attracting other lenders and other investors, private sector in particular to contribute to these projects.”

In an interview at European Development Days in Brussels earlier this month, Shaw-Barragan discussed the challenges that remain convincing the private sector that working together for impact as well as profit is possible. Watch the full video above to learn more about the approach.

Over 10 weeks Devex, along with our partners the European Investment Bank, the International Finance Corporation, Philips, and the United Nations Development Programme, will take an in-depth look at the innovative financing mechanisms driving forward the 2030 sustainable development agenda. We’ll explore how the funding gap can be filled, ask how cross-sector collaboration can lead to improved global health care, and look at what it takes to build successful partnerships for change. Join us as we examine the innovative financing powering the Global Goals by tagging #Going4Goals and @devex.

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  • Johnny dubbaneh

    Johnny Dubbaneh

    Johnny Dubbaneh is an assistant video editor at Devex. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a business degree and shortly thereafter discovered his interest in video production through spare time projects. He works on all aspects of production in collaboration with freelancers, external partners and reporters around the world.
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    Helen Morgan

    Helen Morgan is an editorial associate at Devex. She has a background in human rights, radio and journalism, and has written for a variety of international publications while living and working in Buenos Aires, New York and Shanghai. She is now based in Barcelona and supports editorial content on campaigns and media partnerships at Devex. She is currently studying a master's degree in contemporary migration.