Making A Difference

Catalyzing Social and Economic Change in Rural Africa

Goncalo Neves-Correia (MBA 2007)

Goncalo Neves-Correia (MBA 2007) is CEO of ThirdWay Africa, an investing and advisory firm based in London, Maputo, and Harare. ThirdWay Africa believes we are entering a new paradigm where sustainability is an absolute. In this interview, Goncalo discusses opportunities for positive social and economic change in rural Africa.

“ThirdWay Africa is an investing and advisory firm focused on Indian Ocean Africa. We believe in a socially and economically empowered Africa. We work with multiple ecosystem stakeholders to create and finance investable opportunities that will yield not only a financial return, but also a social and an environmental or conservation return.

“Throughout my career, I saw what finance could do and the positive impact that it could have. And Africa's very exposed. At the same time, there's tremendous opportunity, because there's not many things to disrupt. We saw what impact investing was doing in other parts of the world, and we thought that it would be a very good trend to bring back investing to Africa, given what else was going on.

“At the moment, our Impact Fund is focusing on rural development. And we really believe in exponential change in rural development being led by private equity. What does this mean? There's a tremendous amount of natural capital in that region, and there's also a lot of development capital that is earmarked for impact.

“Historically, financial capital and development capital haven't really converged around the same project. We can invest in areas like agriculture, sustainable forestry, conservation, and tourism, and blend together development capital and financial capital so that everybody has the right risk-reward profile for their project. At the same time, we'll leave behind a sustainable business that in turn de-risks the entry for other investment opportunities.

“At the end of the day, that helps people who are living on $1 a day increase their livelihoods by maybe a factor of 5x. We are, of course, focused on the economic side of investments that we make and aim to make, but also really on connecting with those communities, because it's through building those relationships that you can build on that over time and really build the ecosystem. But you can't build ecosystems without having embedded under it a set of personal, human relations.”

(Published April 2018)

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