Panel Discussions

Financing Growth Through Disruption

Moderated by Robert Wardrop, Director of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF), this panel will discuss the various issues surrounding the nascent Alternative Finance sector.  

In line with projections of lower growth in the African Banking sector over the coming years, new opportunities are emerging in the Alternative Finance sector. These opportunities revolve largely around meeting the needs of the consumer base in a variety of new ways, such as expanding current product offerings, increasing product penetration, bringing the unbanked into the financial system, and capitalizing on the rise of a new consumer class by developing innovative service and channel offerings. 

Alternative Finance covers a range of financial institutions which are not part of the traditional banking sector, for example, micro- finance, consumer finance, specialists in leasing or invoice discounting, vehicle lending, housing finance, student finance, fintech lenders and specialist banks. While in the past, institutions and players in the sector jointly categorized these activities as “micro-finance,” a more nuanced view has emerged. 

The discussion will address a number of points, such as: 

  • The regulatory challenges associated with operating a microfinance/microinsurance company in different parts of Africa; 

  • Recent innovations that have allowed largely unbanked populations to access financial instruments and the implications of this; 

  • Opportunities for growth in this sector; 

  • Financial technology as a catalyst for economic growth. 

Panelists include:

Alain Nkontchou

Co-Founder & Managing Director, Enko Capital


Robert Wardrop

Co-Founder & Director, Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance

Lanre Oloniniyi

Co-Founder, Orbitt

Tim Murdoch

CEO, Waymap. Co-Creator, M-PESA

Lesley-Ann Vaughan

Director, Mila Consulting. Co-Creator, M-PESA

Martin Janzen

Managing Director, Simon-Kucher & Partners


The Digital Continent

Africa is going digital, and with only 16 percent of the population online, the journey is just beginning. Many countries have rolled out 3G networks, and planned infrastructure investments are likely to increase bandwidth, reduce costs, and connect new corners of the continent. If governments and the private sector continue to build the right foundations, the Internet could transform sectors as diverse as agriculture, retail, and health care. 

There is a growing wave of innovation as entrepreneurs and large corporations alike launch web-based ventures, from e-commerce sites and digital entertainment platforms, to mobile health technologies and online educational content. The internet will generate economic growth and social transformation in six sectors in particular: financial services, education, health, retail, agriculture, and government. In financial services, for example, M-PESA’s mobile money solutions have brought millions of Kenyans onto the financial grid for the first time. Micro-insurance platforms are bringing health insurance to populations that were until recently unbanked. Students are beginning to learn with new digital education tools, and e-government initiatives are connecting citizens with services.  

This panel will examine the progress and potential of Africa’s tech revolution and the particular challenges and opportunities that come with it. 

The discussion will address a number of points, such as: 

  • Opportunities for growth in the tech sector: an exploration of recent innovations; 

  • Opportunities for large global tech firms entering local and regional markets; 

  • Unique challenges faced by tech firms when trying to grow in Africa; 

  • Examples of reverse innovation and the potential opportunities these highlight; 

  • The relationship between local (homegrown) tech firms and global tech firms: threat or potential collaborators; 

  • The impact of venture capital; 

  • The economic impact of startup incubators and innovation hubs: can it be measured?

Jaideep Prabhu, Director of the Centre for India & Global Business at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, will moderate the discussion.

Panelists include:

Doug Johnson-Poengsen

CEO, Circulor


Jaideep Prabhu

Director of the Centre for India & Global Business, University of Cambridge Judge Business School

Olu Oyinsan

Managing Partner, Oui Capital

Simon Bransfield-Garth

CEO, Azuri Technologies


The Africa Infrastructure Imperative

Faced with record breaking rates of population growth and urbanisation, Africa is in a unique moment for infrastructure development. To build the infrastructure the continent needs to support growth and meet development goals; Africa will have to spend about $93 billion a year for a decade. Two-thirds of that sum would be for investments; the remaining third for maintenance. Africa already spends $45 billion per year on infrastructure, two-thirds of which is domestically financed from taxes and user charges. According to the African Development Bank Group, most financing for capital investment is obtained from external sources.

Infrastructure expenditures are rising significantly faster in Africa compared to the rest of the world, but with a lack of infrastructure and enabling policy frameworks, as well as fragmented efforts to develop these projects regionally, each country needs a customised targeted approach to then create linkages and find common investment opportunities intra-regionally. 

This panel will provide a platform for an informative and interactive session to discuss opportunities for growth in this sector, the challenges that often result in project failure or abandonment, and potential ways to create more conducive environments to develop infrastructure on the continent. 

The discussion will address a number of points, such as: 

  • Incentives and enabling frameworks for infrastructure investment and development; 

  • Driving greater Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the region; revealing the opportunities for growth to foreign players; 

  • Challenges in implementing large scale infrastructure projects: the investor and the developer perspective; 

  • Opportunities for large-scale property development, the challenges faced by key use-types such as global retailers and hotel chains, and the challenges in attracting and retaining these players. 

The panel will be moderated by Othman Cole, Senior Faculty in Management Practice (Finance) at Cambridge Judge Business School.

Panelists include:

Souleymane Ba

Partner, Helios Partners


Othman Cole

Senior Faculty in Management Practice (Finance), Cambridge Judge Business School

Pierre Van Hoeylandt

Director, Intermediated Equity, CDC Group

Namukale Chintu

Executive Director - Africa coverage, UBS Global Wealth Management

Darren Moore

Partner, Zura Consulting

Kazuhiko Sakamoto

Resident Representative, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) UK Office

Responsible Investment - A Good Business Model

Globally, responsible investment has grown from a niche to a mainstream market segment as companies seek to capitalize on the benefits of investing with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in mind. While responsible practices are being widely applied to investment decisions, processes, and operations in sectors such as agriculture, clean energy, financial services and healthcare, to name a few, questions remain on how best to measure impact and scale these investments adequately to generate attractive returns.

Due to the historical role of Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) in many sectors in Africa, and particularly African private equity, managers typically invest for both development outcomes and financial returns. This makes ESG integration particularly pertinent for the region. Moreover, Entrepreneurs have seen these challenges as opportunities and have built successful businesses that are helping to address some of these social or environmental problems and improve people's lives, while also stimulating economic growth on the continent.

This panel will address a number of points, such as:

  • What responsible investment looks like

  • How entrepreneurs have addressed social and environmental issues, while creating profitable businesses

  • The measurement of impact and the relevance of the metrics used to assess mission-aligned investments and exits, and the criticisms of these

  • The role and influence of DFIs in driving ESG agendas in different industries and sectors in Africa, particularly private equity

  • Corporate governance as a key factor in driving investment, and the approaches that have proven successful for some companies in addressing these

Panelists include:

Albert Tucker

Chairman, Karma Cola Foundation


Geetha Tharmaratnam

Partner and Head of Impact, LGT Impact

Danielle Treharne

Business Development Manager (Africa), BIMA (MILVIK)

Ioto Iotov

Investment Manager, AfricInvest Group

Kohei Muto

Founding Partner, Double Feather Partners