British International Investment (BII), the UK’s official development finance agency, was the first organisation of its kind when it was founded in 1948. It remains at the forefront of international development finance, particularly for Africa, where it deploys 70% of its $2-$4bn of new capital every year.
CEO Nick O’Donohoe is a pioneer of impact investing, coming to BII following stints in investment banking and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and having co-founded Big Society Capital, the world’s first social investment bank. He explains how BII fits into the UK’s foreign policy in the context of Brexit and a shrinking foreign aid and development budget.
He discusses priorities, illustrating how infrastructure and technology are key to enabling Africa to exploit its enormous entrepreneurial potential. He also touches on climate change, outlining how BII’s commitment to achieving net zero across its both portfolio and transactions will drive its engagement with the continent’s clean energy transition.
What does it mean to be developed?
The podcast takes a philosophical turn, with Nick and Desné tackling the big questions of development, finance and investment. What does it mean to be developed? What is the “right” kind of private sector? Must investments be large to be transformational?
They finish with a discussion of social impact, gender and green bonds. Nick sees huge progress in this space. In comparison with the 1990s, and even the 2000s, he argues that there has been an explosion in awareness of how investment can materially change development outcomes.
Host and executive producer: Dr Desné Masie
Co-producer: Peter Doerrie
Research: Angus Chapman
Digital Editor: Charles Dietz
Design: Jason Venkatasamy