Oikocredit Canada and Oikocredit US jointly organized a webinar on the launch of Oikocredit International's 2021 Impact Report on September 24, 2021. The webinar aimed to discuss the role impact investors in the COVID-19 recovery.
Moderator: Karen Tsang, Director, Global Enterprise and Operational Risk Management at Manulife, and board member at Oikocredit Canada with
- John Berry, Director, JOBS Tunisia, and board member at Oikocredit US
- Lindsay Wallace, Director of Strategic Operations, Limestone Analytics, and board member at Oikocredit Canada
- Introduction by: Sara Shoff, Chief Operating Officer, Oikocredit US
In case you missed it, read below for the key takeaways of the one-hour webinar.
COVID-19: Impact and trends on social impact investing
Lindsay Wallace: COVID-19 tested our basic systems' resilience from health, education, social protection to financial markets. Given the challenges, the impact investing world did see a rise in interest in impact and responsible investment with a focus on climate change and the health sector. A recent survey undertaken by Canada Forum for Impact Investment and Development (CAFIID) shows that 80+ percent of Canadian impact investors are interested in focusing on gender lens and making sure that impact investments are directly benefiting women.
John Berry: The impact of COVID-19 has affected many aspects of the economy, but the impact investment space seems to be on a positive trajectory. We have seen a significant increase in impact investment which is double from last year. What changed is a rise in digital finance and value chain finance. There has been a significant increase in innovative thinking around new technology and concepts. For example, how do you do digital finance for somebody who uses a feature phone, not a smartphone? You connect with post offices in the village that connects with ATMs and then set up an account.
COVID-19: Barrier or Opportunity for Impact Investing
Lindsay Wallace: If we look at the situation through a gender lens, COVID-19 has adversely impacted women. Many women lost livelihoods due to lock downs, had limited savings and saw an increase in unpaid domestic responsibility, among other challenges. But we did see a rise in digital payments, particularly transferring funds by government to small businesses that go directly into individuals' accounts, particularly women's accounts. This action helps in women's economic empowerment and enables a rise in savings to invest in education and health. In the long run, investment into women's businesses is certainly an opportunity.
John Berry: Despite the challenges, COVID-19 did bring many innovations to the table. One such example is in Nigeria; during a training program on agriculture risk management, many of the players from financial institutions noted that due to COVID-19, in-person client visit were moved to virtual platforms, which saved money and time and increased engagement.
COVID-19: What changed in impact measurement?
John Berry: The question is about Impact vs. Income. Donors are focused on the impact, whereas the small businesses generating jobs and employing women concentrate on income. When we measure impact we must ask about the cost of impact measurement and think about who is collecting the data and expending the resources to do so.
The people at grassroots levels running small businesses are not as concerned with the impact. What is needed is a well-designed impact monitoring system in which we can calibrate the information donors request with the information that is already being generated to make life easier.
Lindsay Wallace: There have not been many changes in how we measure impact. What we do know, and one of the impacts of COVID-19, is that there is increased awareness of the SDGs and more groups are working to achieve goal number one, which is to reduce poverty. Measuring poverty has become an important aspect of impact measurement.