Making investment work for the people

Caux Dialogue on Land and Security

02/10/2019
Michael Akampa

 

The Caux Dialogue on Land and Security (CDLS) in 2017 was a ‘turning point’ for sustainable investment professional, Micheál Akampa, who was invited to speak at its Invest in Peace conference. ‘I met like-minded people who were doing very inspiring things,’ he says. ‘This gave me a sense of renewed optimism and of family, as I was no longer alone on this challenging journey. I also had the opportunity to pause, reflect and connect with my inner self on what really matters most to me, both personally and professionally. When you leave Caux, you want to do more.’

It became clear to Micheál that investors needed to channel more capital into land restoration and creating the conditions for peace and well-being. After leaving Caux, he started work on setting up the Invest in Peace Fund, to raise money to fund land restoration and reverse desertification and climate change. ‘Initially I was working through my Africa-focused impact investment company, Traction Capital, but we quickly realized that we needed to have a global company.’ They set up RE Equity Partners, where Micheál is Managing Partner.

Some of those Micheál met in Caux are now part of his team and advisory board. ‘We also realized that we needed to work in partnership with other like-minded people and organizations so as to leverage our collective strength and build synergies rather than duplicating our efforts.’

Micheál’s experience working with funds has shown him that investments from grants, funds or equity tend to be disjointed and not to reinforce each other. Combining and blending these sources can give high impact to a small amount of capital.

How would he explain his work to people who do not know much about investment and finance? ‘That’s precisely the core of my work,’ he says, ‘to simplify the mysterious world of investment and finance, so that it can work for people and the planet as it’s supposed to. There is a big mismatch between investors and projects which have positive environmental or social impact. We aim to develop investments strategies and structures to bridge this gap.’

RE Equity’s investment models are developed for and with local people, to solve the challenges they are facing. ‘We then add structure and try to de-risk and present the projects, so that investors understand them. My wife is a priest in the Swedish church and doesn’t know much about investment and finance, so I often ask her if a structure we have developed makes sense to her. She always challenges me to focus on the people who are most impacted. If it works for them, then it works!’ 

 

Interview: Nicole Walther

Author: Mary Lean

Photo: Paula Mariane

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