Last month, our President & CEO Irene Pritzker and our COO Alison Ehlke took a break from the Chicago cold to head to San Francisco for the African Diaspora Investment Symposium (ADIS).

The two-day conference was jam-packed with workshops, speakers, and panels focused on “Building Africa’s Future: Magnifying What is Within”, the theme chosen for 2018. The 3rd annual event is a convening of global leaders and innovators that are working to uplift the African continent by building bridges between Africans, Diasporans, and friends of Africa. ADIS is a great chance to strengthen and build new partnerships to advance our shared mission of supporting Sub-Saharan Africa social entrepreneurs through investments, grants, and partnerships.


The first day of ADIS 2018 was centered on design-thinking panels and workshops with topics ranging from agriculture to technology. We especially enjoyed hearing the panel about human capital investment and how we can use public-private investments to achieve the SDGs. After a long day of networking with peers and hearing from influential leaders in the space, we were ready to rest up for day two and our IDP sponsored panel entitled “Impact Investment in Africa”.

The panelists included Mark Correnti of the Miller Center, Pardon Makumbe of CRE Venture Capital, Duncan Goldie-Scot of Musoni Kenya and Yasmin Kumi of African Foresight Group, with Irene Pritzker as moderator. Our panelists brought great insight into ways that the diaspora can invest in the continent, common obstacles with impact investing in Africa and current trends.

Panelists Yasmin Kumi, Duncan Goldie-Scot, Pardon Makumbe, and Mark Correnti, and moderator Irene Pritzker
Panelists Yasmin Kumi, Duncan Goldie-Scot, Pardon Makumbe, and Mark Correnti, and moderator Irene Pritzker

Here are some main takeaways from our panelists:

Mark Correnti had an optimistic view, saying that currently there are more entrepreneurs in Africa than anywhere else in the world. However, when asked what needs to be done to address the barriers with impact investing in Africa he said, “Social entrepreneurship must strive to be more compelling to bring in more investors.”

Yasmin Kumi described the emerging trends, including how many more enterprises are focusing on education and health, with less working on agriculture. She also shared some advice with budding social entrepreneurs: “Flexibility is crucial.”

Duncan Goldie-Scot focused on the impact of connectivity and the opportunities that will come when using connectivity to create more social enterprises. His advice to growing social entrepreneurs was to have a broad team with a variety of skillsets, including softskills such as communication skills and creative thinking.

Pardon Makumbe provided valuable insight from a funder’s perspective. He discussed his experience with impact investing as the Co-Founder of CRE Ventures, a leading early stage investor in tech companies in Africa.


It was great to have to opportunity to learn from leaders in the field that bring a variety of opinions, ideas and perspectives and to expand our knowledge base about what’s happening with impact investing in Africa. We’re thrilled to take what we learned from this panel and the rest of the ADIS events and incorporate the valuable insight into our foundation strategy. It was a delight to be participants and sponsors at this influential event and we look forward to future involvement and collaboration!

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