British International Investment
1 July 2019

Take a look at our Annual Review: Making a difference

A message from
Nick O’Donohoe, CEO

As I review CDC’s activities in 2018, I can point to an organisation that is growing substantially and is more focused than ever on creating a real and measurable difference to people. A difference to their ability to obtain
sustainable, high-quality jobs, or to improve their way of life through better access to affordable goods and services. We focus our investment in Africa and South Asia, and during 2018 those regions presented both great challenges and great opportunities.

Five of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world are in Africa, with countries such as Rwanda, Ethiopia and Ghana becoming role models for private-sector-led growth. In South Asia, India and increasingly Pakistan and Bangladesh are also providing more opportunities for development-led investing. Yet, there is still not enough new investment. In many  locations, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, investment is falling. This means we will struggle to achieve the SDGs, and even within more successful economies, many people are still being left behind.

This means CDC’s role, along with that of other development finance institutions (DFIs), is an important one. Our job is to go to difficult places, take risks others would not take, and focus on achieving real development outcomes. In 2018, we were determined to play a leadership role in where we invest, how we invest, and the difference our investments make to people’s lives and well-being. For example, we were among the very first financial institutions to offer desperately needed capital to Zimbabwean companies. Our goal was to be an early supporter when change happens, to go where the risks are greatest, and to signal our intention to be a strong and bold partner to the private sector.

In how we invest, I am particularly proud of our willingness to be innovative in deploying capital. Through our Catalyst Strategies, we have identified areas of significant market failure and thought creatively about how to help address them. In 2018, we launched MedAccess, a company dedicated to underwriting the risk of supplying critical drugs and medical devices to uncertain markets. Through this, we aim to make these products more affordable and more accessible in poorer countries.

Our ultimate focus is on the people and communities in the countries where we invest. In 2018, we took great strides to meet the commitments we made, in our Strategic Framework
2017–2021, to widen our impact focus and improve how we monitor, measure and learn from the impact our investments help create. We appointed our first Chief Impact Officer, and we now have a team of 44 impact professionals working dynamically with our investment teams to maximise impact in every investment. With a team that is bigger and more integrated than any investor of our kind, I’m confident about the difference this approach will make.

Indeed, we are already seeing the difference. We have become a prominent voice on the topic of women’s economic empowerment. Our contributions to strategic thinking have been widely welcomed, along with the 2X Challenge, which was launched with other G7 DFIs and aims collectively to mobilise $3 billion for investment in women around the world. Rounding off the year, we made a $180 million investment in Liquid Telecom to expand broadband connectivity across Africa, connecting Cape Town to Cairo, and expanding into countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan. By providing vital enabling infrastructure, this investment has the potential to be truly transformational for people right across the continent.

As we marked our 70th anniversary throughout 2018, I was reminded what an enormous privilege it is to lead an organisation with such a rich history and long commitment to supporting development around the
world. Nothing we achieve would be possible without the support of our shareholder, the Department for International Development (DFID), the commitment of our Board and all our employees, who come to work every day striving to make a difference to people’s lives. I am enormously appreciative and proud of them all.

Nick O’Donohoe


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