The Role of Impact and Innovative Financing in Sustainable Development

The increasing global call for climate mitigation and adaptation actions such as the Paris Agreement, requires all economies to incorporate innovative and sustainable structures in their economic development and growth pursuits. Despite political controversies, there is a growing consensus on the relationship between human activities and the causes of climate change with over 197 international scientific organizations in agreement. This means that, human activities of all forms are required to shift towards more sustainable and responsible structures in order to avert the consequences of climate change. The term ‘green economy’ has been adopted by many to mean a shift from unsustainable practices in the pursuit of economic gains. In the absence of a globally agreed definition, green economy can be considered as an economy that aims to reduce environmental risks, and creates socially inclusive and sustainable developments.

The absence of a globally accepted definition and lack of data has led to the impression that, green economy is of limited size, small cap dominated, lacking diversification, too expensive and that investors give up performance in exchange for environmental benefits. Despite these unpopular myths, the FTSE Russell Green Index shows that going green is indeed profitable and constitute the future of investments. The FTSE Russell’s green index has outperformed their parent benchmark over the last 5 years. Also, unlike unpopular opinions, the green economy is diversified and multifaceted by representing all company sizes, industries and sectors addressing environmental challenges. Again, the green economy is significantly growing and represents a substantial amount of 6% of the market capitalization of global listed companies; an estimated $4 trillion in value. Furthermore, evidence points at impact investors and green businesses globally in the U.S.A, China, Germany, Australia, and Spain such as Elon Musk, CATL in China, Aloys Wobben, Anthony Pratt, and Jose Manuel-Entrecanales who have become billionaires by trying to stop climate change.


Despite the global call and awareness, green economy remains a relatively new concept within most emerging markets especially in Africa. Most green businesses in Africa specifically in Ghana are start-ups and early stage businesses with few matured ventures. The inherent risks of these developing businesses given their growth stages, small sizes, youthful teams with inadequate experience amongst other reasons means that, not all forms of financing are readily available to these businesses. This creates a dilemma known as the ‘missing middle’ financing gap which has crippled the growth of many businesses in emerging markets. The ‘missing middle’ dilemma states that, certain factors disqualify early to mid-stage businesses from accessing funding from various traditional financiers such as banks and high-ticket private equity firms. To the financial institutions such as banks, these businesses do not have collateral while their small ticket sizes increases the transaction costs and risks to private equity firms. Consequently, there is the need for more innovative financing vehicles such as growth and impact financiers, to invest capital and coach most of these early-stage businesses to occupy significant market positions.


To promote sustainable economic development in Africa, there is a need to encourage investment in these early-stage but innovative businesses that are climate friendly, socially inclusive and overall sustainable. The success of these businesses rest solely in the hands of growth financiers and impact driven investors given the challenges identified with alternative financiers. This is because growth and impact investors have business development services at their core provision of patient capital, and they also seek to achieve some measurable social and environmental impacts in addition to financial returns. For most early stage businesses delivering impact to succeed, it is imperative that they are given more than just financial assistance. The additional value offered by growth and impact financiers makes them the ideal source of funding for these early stage green businesses. Some additional value provided beyond provision of patient capital include but not limited to; access to a network of experienced and resourceful contacts, provision of technical assistance, flexible financing structures, access to markets and opportunities, business advisory amongst many other contributions that facilitate business growth. Example can be made of Incas Diagnostics, an innovative local point of care test kits manufacturer in Ghana, whom with the right support from MasterCard Foundation has developed a rapid test kit for Covid-19 which produces results in 20-minutes; currently undergoing FDA approval and could potentially ease Ghana’s pandemic test restrictions. This shows that, with the right support for early stage innovative businesses, they can contribute meaningfully to sustainable developments.


In recent times, impact/innovative financing has proven even more beneficial in helping to mitigate the challenges of COVID-19 global pandemic alongside governments’ efforts and other non-profits. As covid-19 continues to pose a global scare, impact actors have assisted to de-bottleneck the financing challenges of the private sector through flexible financing mechanisms for the private sector and innovative financing structures that serve the purpose of assisting the most vulnerable in society. Thus, impact actors provide high concessional working capital loans, guaranteeing prices to intermediaries and supplementing shortfalls to reduce cost of capital along with delayed interest payment and maturities for investees. These flexible financing mechanisms help to create value for private capital contributors and keep investees thriving amidst covid-19. Also, innovative financing structures adapted by impact actors such as the use of micro-lending, support to SMEs, support for women businesses amongst many initiatives have ensured access to support by the vulnerable in societies faced with the challenge of financial exclusion. Notable ecosystem actors responding to Covid-19 alongside governments and non-profits include; VISA Foundation Covid-19 Recovery, Master Card Foundation’s Covid-19 recovery program, GIIN’s response to Covid-19 alongside many funds that have set up Covid-19 response packages to assist their portfolio companies to thrive is quite commendable and only confirms the importance of impact and innovative financing in the world today.


In Ghana, a typical impact investor with the development of early stage green businesses at its core is Wangara Green Ventures. Wangara is a local currency denominated fund that offers early-stage green businesses with patient capital between GHS0.25m to GHS2.5m to finance their growth strategies. Wangara prioritizes sectors such as renewable energy, water and waste management, climate smart agriculture and climate friendly businesses. Beyond provision of capital, Wangara offers pre-investment technical assistance in the areas of business and strategic growth plan, market study, financial modelling, initial impact assessment amongst others. Wangara also provides post-investment technical assistance through value creation and value addition services which include; business formalization and governance, management building, supply chain development, access to new markets, and impact measurement and management etc. These value-added services are critical because most early stage businesses do not have firmed up business models and strategic plans, nor do they understand the importance of corporate governance and the quality of their teams. They may also not fully understand their identified markets, and importantly may not have financial plans which are key asks by investors. In addition, Wangara Green Ventures provides access to a pool of resourceful contacts within the impact investment ecosystem. For investees who require additional capital over time, Wangara is able to provide follow on capital as well as connect investees to other capital providers who now find the investees attractive as they have been de-risked having received support from Wangara Green Ventures. Investees also gain access to other useful ecosystem actors who work with them to ensure the growth of early stage green businesses.


Indeed, the world is gradually shifting in favour of sustainable structures as the solution to the increasing global challenges of climate change, crisis and inequality. For emerging markets in Africa to fully participate, there is the need for innovative and impact driven investments in essential sectors such as energy, sanitation, agriculture, water, health etc. The contributions of Wangara Green Ventures in Ghana and similar impact driven ecosystem actors across Africa are evidence that, with the right financing vehicles, emerging markets could become useful players in the global call for sustainability.














Wangara Green Ventures Invests GHS 1.9 million in Akwaaba Feeds Ltd. to boost poultry and livestock feed production using insect protein.

Accra, Ghana, July 13, 2020 – Wangara Green Ventures, an impact investment fund in Ghana announces a GHS 1.9 million (approx. US$320,000) investment in Akwaaba Feeds Limited, a climate-smart agribusiness, to support the company manufacture high quality and affordable feed for the poultry and livestock industry in Ghana using insect protein.

Akwaaba Feeds is a leading poultry and pig feed manufacturing company in Ghana that produces high-quality poultry and pig feed for sale to poultry and livestock farmers. The feed variety is formulated with the support of Bioproton Pty Ltd, an Australian based developer and manufacturer of a high-quality enzyme, surfactant, and probiotic feed supplements. Akwaaba Feeds also has a strategic partnership with West Africa Feeds, an incubatee of the Ghana Climate Innovation Centre (GCIC), for the production of low cost, high-protein feed base made from insects, which serves as an affordable yet equally nutritious alternative to fish meal used in typical protein base poultry feeds.

Akwaaba Feeds which was founded in 2017, grew from 2 distributors and four workers in 2018 to 4 distribution outlets and 28 staff in 2019 with a revenue growth of 225%. The company currently has distribution outlets in Accra, Cape Coast, Takoradi and Kumasi.

Wangara Green Ventures’ investment in Akwaaba Feeds will support the company double its production capacity, expand its distribution channels to make their quality feed more accessible to small holder farmers as well as scale up the production of insect protein in commercial quantities. The first commercial insect protein feed manufacturer in Ghana, Akwaaba Feeds would be better placed to contribute immensely to local poultry production and SDG goals of Zero Hunger, Good Health and Wellbeing, and No Poverty in a climate-resilient way.

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Ghana estimates 180,000MT of poultry meat is imported yearly to augment local poultry supply of 58,000MT, leaving a poultry output gap of 162,000MT annually. With growing uncertainty about food security as well as Government favorable policies in support of local poultry production, Wangara’s investment couldn’t have come at an opportune time.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of Akwaaba Feeds Ltd, Mr. Sylvester Cooper; the investment from Wangara Green Ventures is a game-changer for the company and will help reposition the company to take advantage of the government’s drive to grow the poultry sector by reducing the importation of frozen chicken into the country which has a great potential to create employment and reduce the pressure on foreign currencies. He again indicated that the most exciting aspect of the deal is the technical support Akwaaba Feeds will receive from Wangara to aid its growth strategy.

In addition to the GHS1.9million investment, Akwaaba Feeds is also receiving technical assistance support in the form of other business development services to enable them to realize their growth plans.

Wangara Green Ventures is a climate-focused impact investment company that invests between GHS 250,000 to GHS 2,500,000 in Small and Growing Ghanaian Businesses (SGBs) that are making a social and environmental impact in Ghana. Wangara also supports the growth and sustainability of these SGBs by making available pre-investment and post-investment Technical Assistance Grants. Wangara Green Ventures is sponsored by Innohub Foundation through the $3.2m Ghana Climate Venture Facility (GCVF) from the World Bank.



According to UNCTAD 2019 World Investment Report, Ghana has cemented its position as an attractive destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), ahead of neighboring Nigeria, by attracting FDI commitments to the tune of about US$ 3 billion in 2018. Capital is increasingly becoming available in the sub-region, as growth opportunities abound for companies delivering high impact and returns. However, most entrepreneurs struggle to obtain patient impact capital. This constraint is even higher for the youth, women, or those who reside outside the capital cities.

Ghana presents opportunities for investment in businesses that are scalable, delivering impact and financial returns. Yet, there is a mismatch between information impact investors expect to obtain about small and growing businesses (SGBs) during initial engagements and how the SGBs are presented by promoters (the Entrepreneurs). One of the key challenges for start-ups and SGBs is to find the right balance between the what and the how of pitching a business to an impact investor; “what” the impact investor is thinking during initial engagements and “how” to tailor the pitch so as to capture that “aha” moment of the investor.

Entrepreneurs often ask: how different is it to pitch to an impact investor? In reality, it is quite similar to pitching to a traditional venture capital or private equity investor. The impact pitch deck, like the traditional investor pitch deck, should ideally cover information on the problem identified, solution or business proposition, the market, the business model, competition, strategy, team and traction/impact milestones and fundraising information. The main distinction, however, is that impact investors assess financial returns along with environmental and social returns, with the rigor of analysis being similar to what traditional investment analysts will do.

Image Source: Aria Capital Inc

The Problem Identified:

This presents the entrepreneur the opportunity to present on the problem they seek to address; who has the problem, what is currently being offered, what is wrong with the status quo or what should be improved. The impact investor at this stage of the pitch, is thinking about the essence of your pitch and why he/she should listen attentively past this slide. To get the impact investor hooked, the problem identified by the entrepreneur should be real, relatable and verifiable. The problem should be presented briefly and as a problem that the impact investor would ideally be interested in solving.

Market and Opportunity:

This is the occasion to present on the market opportunity you (the entrepreneur) has identified. The total size of the market and what specific percentage of the market the entrepreneur is hoping to capture. It helps to back this up with some verifiable data. This slide should have a sweet spot between elaborating further on the problem and highlighting the number of people facing the problem the entrepreneur is trying to solve whilst it opens up an avenue to speak on the solution (next slide) to be offered by the entrepreneur. Because impact investing goes beyond financial returns to capturing environmental and social benefits, information on the number of customers facing the problem the entrepreneur is trying to solve (the impact investor would ideally want to solve this problem too) and the opportunity to make an impact will heighten the impact investors interest in the entrepreneur’s business.

Solution or Value Proposition:

The solution or value proposition slide should explain the business of the entrepreneur, the product and/or service or solution being offered to the problem identified. It will be ideal for the promoter to think in terms of the benefits of the product or service being offered to the user (who has the problem) instead of characteristics of the product being offered. The entrepreneur risks introducing jargons that might make it difficult to retain the investors’ attention when he/she thinks in terms of characteristics of the product. If there are alternatives to the solution being offered on the market, it will be great to introduce the unique selling proposition (USP) of the entrepreneur’s solution. The impact investor at this stage is looking out for glimpses of the environmental and social impact that the solution could offer to the wider community.

Competition and Strategy:

So yes, the impact investor is interested in solving the same problem the entrepreneur is trying to solve and the entrepreneur has offered the ideal solution. The question remains, is the solution unique or one of numerous solutions on the market? Is there an opportunity to capture and maintain a sizeable piece of the market? This slide offers an opportunity to highlight the potential competition the entrepreneur faces, how the entrepreneur perceives the competition, but more importantly, what strategy would be deployed to ensure that the entrepreneur and the businesses remain profitable and continue to grow. For the impact investor, he/she would probably be thinking of the potential to scale up the business and offer the ultimate solution described earlier to a wider market. To keep the investor’s interest, it will be ideal to speak on the competition (if any) that exists and how the business strategy will help scale up the business in spite of this competition.


Impact Investors, like traditional investors, invest in a management team and its ability to execute on the business plan or strategy. The strength of the core team working with the entrepreneur or business is highlighted on this slide. The entrepreneur should present a competent team with a proven track record who will play central roles in the business. The impact investor is probably thinking not just of the track record of the team, but their dedication, resilience, and willingness to stick with the vision through any challenges and it helps for the entrepreneur to think along these lines when pitching. If the team lacks the required expertise, the entrepreneur should show the willingness to hire the appropriate experts to fill the right positions. The entrepreneur should aim to make the impact investor want to be a part of a great, winning team. There is an old saying that holds true for many VCs – they would prefer to support a not so great business idea led by an accomplished management team rather than a great business plan supported by a team of inexperienced managers. In addition to the core team, the impact investor is also interested in the governance structure of the business and the advisors on board.


The impact story, for impact investors is very important. This is where the entrepreneur brings everything together; how the entrepreneur hopes to make significant impact, environmentally and socially, whilst delivering attractive financial returns to the investor. It helps to present this slide with some numbers and graphs. It is important to note that a business could look attractive from a financial perspective but if there is weak social or environmental impact, impact investors might decline to invest. Depending on the type of investor, impact could be measured differently – number of lives touched, direct and indirect jobs created, metric tons of carbon emission saved, number of women, children and youth supported, taxes paid, etc – and this slide must speak to that. It is therefore important for the entrepreneur to do his/her homework regarding the impact investors area of interest or, more technically, impact lens. Above all, the entrepreneur should provide an attractive return multiple to the impact investor upon exit.

COVID 19 Strategy:

COVID-19 has impacted various aspects of the normal lives of the world’s inhabitants, social systems, world economies and businesses. It has shown the world that the old ways of doing business and running a company, are not perfect and leaders and entrepreneurs have to re-think what business do and how to do it. Companies must demonstrate the ability to survive a brutal business environment in the short-term during this pandemic period in order to take advantage of long-term opportunities. Survival is top of the mind for every entrepreneur today, however, thriving post-COVID 19 is more important. The impact investor would want to know how the entrepreneur and his management are surviving and intend to thrive. What has been the impact of COVID 19 on the key business metrics like revenues, cost of production and general expenses. It helps for the entrepreneur to present a COVID 19 strategy which outlines the strategy being implemented by management now and how the company is positioned to survive should there ever be another Global pandemic. The strategy, amongst other things, should highlight how the company expects to win-back customers, accelerate digital transformation and create advantage through resilience.

As the saying goes, first impressions matter, and a pitch deck could make or unmake a business. Entrepreneurs should endeavor to make it count when pitching to impact investors.

(Reference: UNCTAD 2019 World Investment Report. Pg 37.

Wangara Green Ventures Invests GHS 2.5 million ($500,000) in Cleanearth Scientific Limited to Bring Clean Water to Ghanaians.

Accra, Ghana, April 20, 2020 – Wangara Green Ventures, an impact investment fund capitalized by the World Bank through the $3.2m Ghana Climate Venture Facility (GCVF) announces a GHS 2.5 million ($500,000) investment in Cleanearth Scientific Limited to support the company develop water and wastewater treatment systems as well as offer quality water testing solutions and support services.

Clean earth

Cleanearth Scientific is a life sciences and engineering company that provides industrial clients in West Africa with instruments to monitor the quality of water, products and environment. In addition, the company executes projects for treatment and optimization of water and wastewater systems. Key industries the company serves include Food & Beverage, Mining, Power Generation, Pharmaceutical, Petroleum, and Municipal Water.

The investment in Cleanearth Scientific will help the company to expand its services to other industrial customers in Ghana, Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire, Nigeria and Liberia for clean water and wastewater treatment projects.

Mr. Ekow Archer, CEO of Cleanearth Scientific, stated that sustainable management of water and its treatment is a key part of our strategic intent to create jobs, make a difference in the quality of life and protect the environment in Africa. Our partnership with Wangara Green Ventures and this investment positions us to take bold steps into the future to meet our growth aspirations.

Wangara Green Ventures is an impact investment company that invests between GHS 250,000 to GHS 2,500,000 in equity and quasi-equity in Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs) in the missing middle that are engaged in renewable energy, energy efficiency, waste management, water management, climate-smart agriculture or generally climate-friendly businesses. Wangara also supports the growth and sustainability of these SGBs by making available pre-investment and post-investment Technical Assistance Grants.