Chicago Council on Global Affairs
In March 2018, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs published a report on “Youth for Growth: transforming economies through agriculture”. I was honored to attend the launch event and associated conference as a participant and panelist. This seminal report highlights the link between youth employment, food security and stability, and highlights the critical role of agriculture – and responsible investment in agriculture – in meeting urgent development challenges.
It was an interesting event. Speakers included leading voices from academia, government and public-good institutions, and private sector – including a diverse set of entrepreneurs.
The panel session I contributed to was focused on creating partnerships, in the food and agriculture sectors, that support inclusive growth – in particular for young people. Other panelists included Joy Basu (Food and Agriculture Lead, TPG Rise Fund), Gawain Kripke (Policy Director, Oxfam America), Parmesh Shah (Global Lead, Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Jobs, The World Bank), and was moderated by Caitlin Dewey (Food Policy Writer, Washington Post).
It was interesting to get different perspectives on this topic. Joy described the TPG Rise Fund’s impact strategy, including their commitment to agriculture and tracking impact. I described Clarmondial, and our motivation for creating the Food Securities Fund, an innovative credit fund that targets impact in agricultural value chains and provides fixed income-like returns, supported by a variety of public and private partners including USAID’s Development Credit Authority. Parmesh described the World Bank’s work in supporting SME growth in emerging markets, including through entrepreneurship and training. Gawain summarized Oxfam’s work to map the food and agribusiness sector, and to advocate for greater transparency and responsibility. And, Caitlin did a great job of moderating on behalf of the Washington Post.
Different groups have roles to play in mobilizing such investments:
- There is a need for new debt and equity investment products that focus on achieving impact, alongside financial outcomes, such as the TPG Rise Fund (equity) and the Food Securities Fund (debt). This also means more proactive design, development and marketing of new investment products that can channel capital that addresses these issues, while generating appropriate financial returns.
- There is continued advocacy by public interest organizations on the transparency and accountability of leading corporates in the food and agribusiness sector (and their funders). An example of which is Oxfam’s “Behind the Brands”.
- There is continued focus on agriculture, and rural job creation, as an entry point for meeting the SDGs – with a strong focus on economic opportunities for young people in emerging markets. For example, the Africa Agriculture Innovation Network (AAIN), which is creating business incubators focused on youth and women.
Last but not least, it is critical to empower the youth to contribute to the urgently needed changes to our economic and financial systems. Typically, they are included as participants and not as subjects. This means engaging and supporting young people in business, finance and government.
Left to right: Joy Basu (TPG Rise Fund), Gawain Kripke (Oxfam America), Tanja Havemann (Clarmondial), Parmesh Shah (World Bank), Caitlin Dewey (Washington Post).