British International Investment

Annual Review 2020: Rising to the challenge

Message from the CEO

We are proud to present our Annual Review 2020: Rising to the challenge.

In previous Annual Reviews, my focus has been on how we’ve been moving forward, and how we’re playing our part to help achieve global development goals. In this extraordinary past year, much of our focus has been on maintaining what has already been achieved. The economic impact of COVID-19 has pushed around two per cent of the global population – 140 million additional people – into extreme poverty. The impact of the pandemic will be felt across the world, and particularly in the countries where we invest, for many years.

Development finance plays an important role in a time of economic crisis. At a time when commercial investment withdrew from Africa and South Asia, we saw a clear mandate for British International Investment to act as a ‘counter-cyclical’ investor, providing immediate liquidity and supporting economic recovery in the long-term. The year saw us make £1.22 billion of new commitments to businesses in these regions. We’re now invested in almost 1,200 businesses which directly employ almost 952,000 people and support many more. Other highlights from the year include:

  • Leading collaboration with other DFIs in the 2X Challenge, to support the economic empowerment of women. Almost $200 million of our investments in 2020 qualified under the 2X criteria.
  • Launching our Climate Change Strategy and collaborating with others to invest for climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience.
  • Investing in businesses that use technology to achieve impact – with investments ranging from large-scale digital infrastructure, to early-stage companies that use technology and innovative business models to address challenges.

While the last year has been one of our most challenging, it has also shown us what is possible when we truly come together to tackle global challenges. British International Investment, as a long-term investor in the private sector to tackle some of these challenges, will continue to play an important part over the coming year.

I hope you enjoy reading the Review.

Nick O’Donohoe
CEO, British International Investment

The year in numbers


Workers employed in our portfolio


Terawatt hours of electricity generated by our investments


Farmers sourced from by our investee businesses


Patients treated by our health investments


Responding to COVID-19

As the scale and impact of the pandemic became clear early last year, we knew we needed to act with urgency to provide support and to rise to the challenge.

We concentrated our response in three areas – to preserve the viability of our current investees to help them safeguard impact and weather the crisis; to strengthen our response to the economic and health challenges of the crisis; and to support economies rebuild, acting as a long-term partner.

Learn more about our response to the pandemic here (desktop only) or turn to page 8 in the Review.

Impact on people

One of the reasons we invest is to improve economic opportunities. That might mean making an investment because it will provide more and better jobs, support the economic empowerment of women, or increase people’s access to goods and services.

In 2020, our portfolio of businesses in Africa and South Asia provided direct jobs for 951,930 people.

Learn more about our impact on people here (desktop only) or turn to page 12 in the Review.

Impact on the planet

We have already committed more than $1 billion of climate finance over the last four years. Our new climate change strategy builds on our achievements to date, including introducing our first climate finance target.

Over the year, we’ve been investing to support the transition to net zero in our markets. New investments include Greenlight Planet, which provides solar home systems across sub-Saharan Africa, and Tata Cleantech Capital, which will fund resource-efficiency businesses in India that are taking steps to combat climate change.

Learn more about our impact on the planet here (desktop only) or turn to page 17 in the Review.

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