MICROFINANCE PUBLICATION ROUND-UP: How the Private Sector Can Boost Economic Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa; the Role of Impact Investing in Achieving SDGs in Africa; Documenting Reforms to “Doing Business”

Entreprenante Afrique; by Jean-Michel Severino and Jérémy Hajdenberg; published in French by Odile Jacob; September 2016; 288 pages; available for purchase at: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=_vslDQAAQBAJ&rdid=book-_vslDQAAQBAJ&rdot=1&source=gbs_vpt_buy&pcampaignid=books_booksearch_atb

Jean-Michel Severino and Jérémy Hajdenberg argue that the 5-percent average annual growth rate Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced since 2000 is being driven significantly by the region’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). They characterize the increasing number of SMEs, many of which are owned by young entrepreneurs in industries such as agriculture, telecommunications, healthcare, construction, tourism and energy, as part of a “new economy emerging in Sub-Saharan Africa” that could lead future increases in the continent’s gross domestic product. Mr. Severino and Mr. Hajdenberg attribute African SMEs’ success to three factors: (1) a “booming domestic market”, in which population increases, urbanization and middle-class growth are driving up demand; (2) an “improved macroeconomic environment” that has allowed Africans to start and grow small businesses more easily; and (3) “trade between African countries and international partners” becoming easier because of advances in transportation and telecommunication technologies.

“Investing in Development in Africa: How Impact Investment Can Contribute to Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa;” by Samuel Monteiro; published by Investisseurs & Partenaires and the Foundation for International Development Study and Research (FERDI); October 2016; 37 pages; available at: http://www.ietp.com/sites/default/files/Study-SDGs-GB.pdf

This report examines the potential role of “impact investors” in helping achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa, where the author argues impact investors are “uniquely positioned” to support businesses working towards positive “societal impact.” The study groups the 17 SDGs into eight “SDG investment areas:” (1) “fighting poverty and inequalities;” (2) “agriculture, nutrition and food security;” (3) “healthcare, water and sanitation;” (4) education; (5) “energy access;” (6) “infrastructure and innovation;” (7) “sustainable cities;” and (8) “environment and biodiversity.” For each investment area, the author assesses the status of efforts to achieve the associated goal or goals, estimates the monetary resources required, and outlines opportunities for impact investors to deploy financing to achieve them. For example, with regard to education, the author notes that inadequate investment in schools, poor childhood health and economic incentives to keep children out of school impair positive educational outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa. The report estimates that approximately USD 40 billion in “incremental investment” between 2015 and 2030 would be necessary to meet the education SDG and that impact investors can contribute by lending to microfinance institutions (MFIs) that on-lend to schools for improving physical infrastructure, updating educational material, providing training for teachers and heightening school safety.

“Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All”; published by the World Bank Group; October 2016; 356 pages; available at: http://www.doingbusiness.org/reports/global-reports/doing-business-2017

The 2017 edition of the World Bank Group’s (WBG’s) annual “ease of doing business report” gathers quantitative data on business regulation and enforcement in 190 economies relating to the following factors: (1) Starting a Business; (2) Dealing with Construction Permits; (3) Getting Electricity; (4) Registering Property; (5) Getting Credit; (6) Protecting Minority Investors; (7) Paying Taxes; (8) Trading Across Borders; (9) Resolving Insolvency; and (10) Labor Market Regulation. New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark received the highest overall scores across these indicators, while Libya, Eritrea and Somalia received the lowest.

Since 2004, Europe and Central Asia have undertaken the greatest average number of reforms per economy. Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia and Russia implemented 30 reforms each during the 12-year period. The 48 Sub-Saharan African economies that were surveyed had, on average, the lowest “ease of doing business” ranking, though the study indicates that 37 of these economies implemented a total of 80 liberalizing reforms relating to starting and growing businesses between June 2015 and June 2016, a 14-percent uptick from the previous year. The reforms were concentrated in reconciling insolvency and starting businesses. For example, Cameroon reformed its insolvency laws to allow for “additional outlets to settle debts” while Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa implemented online platforms to streamline business registrations. Across all of the Sub-Saharan economies surveyed, the average time it takes to start a business dropped from 37 days to 27 days since 2011. The authors argue that “onerous regulation can divert the energies of entrepreneurs away from developing their businesses or innovating” regardless of geography, while economies that score well on the measures examined have “lower levels of income inequality” on average.

By Michelle Dold, Research Associate

Sources and Additional Resources:

[1] I&P Press Release: “J.-M. Severino and J. Hajdenberg publish a new book: “Enterprising Africa””

[2] Entreprenante Afrique Website

[3] I&P: “Investing in Development in Africa: How Impact Investment can contribute to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa”

[4] Doing Business: “Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All”

[5] Tralac Law Centre: “African economies adopt record number of reforms, says Doing Business 2017 report”

[6] MicroCapital Universe Profile: Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P)

[7] MicroCapital Universe Profile: The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

[8] MicroCapital Universe Profile: The World Bank Group (WBG)

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