Newsroom > Blog

Browse more

Lessons Learned from the GAC & RENEW Blended Finance Event

By Emily Ziethen | Wed Oct 27 2021
On Tuesday, October 26, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and RENEW co-hosted a learning session titled “A Blended Finance Project in Ethiopia, Start to Finish: What Did We Learn?”. The learning event explored the Accelerating Business Growth (ABG) program, which ran in Ethiopia from May 30, 2016 to May 31, 2021, supported over 6,700 jobs and helped facilitate over $79M CAD in financing to SMEs trapped in the “missing middle”. ABG was designed by RENEW and GAC, and implemented by RENEW.  
During the webinar, four different stakeholders shared their experience with ABG and the lessons they learned from the blended finance project: GAC, the donor; RENEW, the project manager; Ethiopian SMEs, the local beneficiaries; and investors, the private capital providers.  
The lessons learned have been captured in the ABG Program Summary, which also provides a high-level overview of the program’s objectives, results, case studies, and more. 
Some of the noteworthy lessons learned include:
  • From GAC (The Donor): Blended finance (BF) is a new model needed to close the funding gap to achieving the SDGs. While the awareness of BF is growing as a tool for accomplishing the SDGs, significant pushback still exists within donor government organizations when implementing innovative BF models. Donors’ systems and cultures still favor and are better positioned to work with big NGOs with a traditional lens to development.
  • From an ABG-supported SME (Local Beneficiary): Practical, hands-on training for SME executives (i.e., The Exec’s Program) is essential and not available in the market. While training is good, more active support with implementation and regular touchpoints and refreshers would increase longer-term impact on SMEs and local beneficiaries.
  • From Impact Investor (International Beneficiaries): International impact investors need full-service investment advisors operating in-county, like RENEW, to carry out BF program services in order for SME investing to work. There is growing desire but a larger pipeline is desired that spans multiple countries.
  • From RENEW (Project Manager): For other BF project managers, be careful not to get overburdened with reporting - you serve two masters and it is important to align, where possible, the impact metrics and reporting to both at the onset of the project. Otherwise, sizable resources will be spent reporting to both masters. 
Several more interesting and valuable insights on organizing, implementing and managing blended finance models and projects are provided in the ABG Program Summary; we encourage you to read it! 
And, in case you missed the ABG Learning Event, please feel free to watch a recording of the webinar uploaded to our YouTube channel. 
Renew Capital is an Africa-focused impact investment firm that backs innovative companies with high-growth potential. Renew Capital manages investments made on behalf of the Renew Capital Angels, a global network of angel investors, foundations and family offices who seek financial returns and sustainable social impact. For the latest on investing in Africa, subscribe and follow us at our social links below.

Related Posts