Keynote speaker Emilie Goodall is Manager Development Impact and Sustainability at FMO, the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank, which provides financing with a development mandate to the private sector in 80 countries across Latin America, South East Asia and Africa.
Emilie shared her personal journey to impact-focused finance, which started a passion for supporting victims of domestic violence to ultimately making a difference in gender equality through finance mechanisms such as the UN Principles for Responsible Investment.
Setting global market standards is, to her mind, essential for making an impact. And as responsible investment has grown exponentially, it became an interesting playground for FMO to understand how organisations make decisions that combine financial return with ESG factors.
ALIGNING DEVELOPMENT FINANCE WITH THE SDGs
Emilie shared that FMO’s mission is to ensure that people can live well within planetary boundaries. To achieve this goal, FMO focuses on the twin areas of climate action and reducing inequalities.
FMO uses three Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to strategically steer its investment portfolio. For Decent Work, it wants to drive market standards for better quality of jobs. For Climate Action, it is assessing its portfolio to match the 1.5℃ pathway. And for Reducing Inequality, FMO focuses, for instance, providing finance to female entrepreneurs in the Least Developed Countries.
One of FMO’s most recent projects tackles of all of these three SDGs at once. The first Palestinian Employment Development Impact Bond (DIB), will match employment opportunities with suitable employees by training job seekers aged 18 to 29, of which at least 30 per cent will be women, in employer-demanded skills.
DO’S AND DON’TS FOR ENTREPRENEURS LOOKING FOR INVESTORS
To Emilie, fundraising is all about people. Entrepreneurs should ask themselves if their team has the vision and values to implement the business plan. An investor would much rather finance a B quality business plan and an A team than the other way around; a B quality business plan can be improved by a dedicated and qualified team, but an A plan cannot be delivered without the right skills and capacity.
Entrepreneurs should see the investor as a facilitator providing the capital to deliver the business plan. Emilie argued that it’s critical to develop a collaboration rooted in shared values and agreements on how to handle difficult moments and even crises. It’s essential to perform the due diligence on both sides before closing a deal; you can easily gloss over on what doesn’t feel right but this gap will only widen over time.