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As part of the Special High-Level Dialogue of the President of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, International Communities Organisation (ICO) submitted an oral statement emphasising the importance of development in Africa. This dialogue, themed “The Africa We Want: Reconfirming the Development of Africa as a Priority of the United Nations,” builds on the annual Africa Dialogue Series organised by the African Union and the UN Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA). The series provides a global platform for discussing critical issues related to Africa’s sustainable development, peace, and security.

ICO’s Statement at the Dialogue

Through its ICO-impact programme, ICO has been combining its commitment to global peace and sustainable finance to support the creation of economic opportunities that help conflict-affected communities prosper. Our activities in Cameroon have provided valuable insights relevant to the “Africa We Want” dialogue.

Supporting the SME Business Ecosystem

One key lesson is the critical role of supporting the SME business ecosystem. Access to local financing remains a significant challenge, with stakeholder engagements revealing substantial capacity gaps in management team know-how, financial management, and product development. These gaps hinder SMEs from accessing necessary financing.

Addressing these barriers requires a transformative approach. It involves not only innovative financing but also entrepreneurial development through training, incubator support, and mentoring. Furthermore, global academic partnerships are essential to entrench knowledge transfer. ICO’s educational arm, Management International University, has successfully mobilised such partnerships to offer free educational resources and support.

Developing an African Impact Investing Framework

On the investor side, there is a need for a systematic framework that places locally derived knowledge at its core. Innovative financing, which leverages flexible funding tools, often lacks an adapted framework that aligns with the sustainable development agenda. This misalignment can hinder the effectiveness of mobilising foreign funding sources.

To address this, the ICO-impact programme is collaborating with Cameroonian private sector, to organise an investment conference. This conference aims to develop a commercially viable and impact-focused investing framework aligned with the SDGs. Such forums are vital in bridging international standards for impact investing with local knowledge, guiding best practices for sustainable development.

By focusing on these areas, ICO aims to contribute significantly to the sustainable development and economic prosperity of African communities, reinforcing the UN’s commitment to making African development a global priority.