The International Communities Organisation (ICO), a London and Vienna based international organisation committed to reconciliation and in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council today spoke at the Special high-level dialogue organised by the UN Secretary General, entitled “The Africa We Want: Reconfirming the Development of Africa as a Priority of the United Nations System” ICO called on the international community to focus on improving SMEs business ecosystem as a strategy to support the Africa’s SDG targets.
Kenza Camara, ICO-impact programme lead, spoke on the need to place locally derived knowledge at the core of impact investment framework. This can enable those seeking to use innovative finance as a tool to realise SDGs, to act with more accurate understanding of the context and therefore develop robust investment frameworks that can mitigate risks and deliver on communities’ needs.
The ICO-impact programme is working with the Groupement Inter-Patronal du Cameroun (GICAM) the most representative organisation of the private sector in Cameroon to discuss the issues facing Cameroon’s private sector and devise an investment framework that is commercially and impact focused with a clear alignment to SDGs.
“It is clear that access to financing locally remains a challenge. To address this persistent issue, we must look to both improve the business ecosystem on the ground and look internally to develop robust investment frameworks. This requires us to develop global partnerships across disciplines to bridge expertise and empower local collaborators.” Said Kenza Camara
Kenza continued, “The barriers to business faced by SMEs across the continent remain high; supporting entrepreneurial development through adequate training, mentoring and well-funded incubator programmes that can provide funding for early-stage ventures can empower the private sector. On the funding side, closer attention must be given to creating investment frameworks in collaboration with local stakeholders so that innovative finance can work to support SDGs using bottom-up approaches.
James Holmes, ICO Secretary General commented, “We are excited to be drawing together an on the ground business incubator, business courses where no charge is made and experts from Africa and beyond to mentor and support young entrepreneurs with a level of intensive support which we believe is rare and where we expect the impact to be measurable. If successful, the work will be replicated”
ICO’s educational arm Management International University has been able to mobilise academic partnerships to develop free of charge practically oriented courses to support Cameroon’s entrepreneurs and is launching an incubator in partnership with Cosendai Adventist University in the fall. ICO is also working with GICAM to organise an investment conference to develop a framework that is both commercially and impact focused with a clear alignment to SDGs.