The need for investments in developing countries is perhaps greater than ever. But succeeding with such investments is not easy. As we marked our 25th anniversary, the Norfund Conference on August 30 was a conversation about the challenges and dilemmas we face in our mission to create jobs and improve lives.  

Together with international experts, Norfund’s own experienced team, representatives of our partners and investee companies, as well as leading Norwegian politicians, we took a deeper look at:

  • How do we know if we make a difference?
  • Scaling renewables – at what cost?
  • Should we stay or should we go? 
  • Can a commercial investor make a lasting difference in African agriculture?

See the recordings of the different sessions below.

How do we know if we make a difference? 

Since the establishment in 1997, Norfund’s purpose has been to help build viable, profitable companies that would not otherwise be funded due to the high risk involved. As a core part of Norwegian development aid, we are also expected to demonstrate the development impact of our investments.

However, collecting correct and meaningful data is difficult, not least for our portfolio companies. And can we ever really know what would have happened without Norfund as an investor?

After 25 years of investments, how far have we come in demonstrating that Norfund makes a difference?

Moderator: Signe Sørensen, Senior Economist, Norfund

Paddy CarterDirector, Development Impact Research & Policy, British International Investment
Håvard Mokleiv NygårdDirector, Department for Knowledge, Norad
Sahra HassanShuraako Senior Field Manager, One Earth Future

Scaling renewables – at what cost? 

To limit the climate crisis and combat poverty, we need a dramatic buildup of renewable energy in developing countries. With the new climate mandate, Norfund will be a part of the solution. 

At the same time, building renewable energy at this scale requires vast amounts of space and land.  

How can we build enough renewable energy to stop the climate crisis and at the same time protect nature and livelihoods?  

Moderator: Per Kristian Sbertoli, Head of Public Relations, Norfund

Karoline AndaurCEO, WWF Norway
Ishita ChelliahDirector and Group Head of ES & HS, BECIS
Marianela GonzálezE&S Advisor, Norfund
Damien BerliozSenior Investment Manager, Norfund

Should we stay or should we go?  

Investing in challenging markets is part of Norfund´s mandate and sometimes that entails countries with political unrest and even armed conflict.  

On the other hand, when wars break out or democratic regimes are toppled, it may place us in extremely challenging dilemmas. 

How should an investor like Norfund act when things really fall apart?  

Moderator: Ylva Lindberg, Executive Vice President – Strategy & Communication, Norfund

Jan EgelandSecretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council
Fay ChetnakarnkulRegional Director Asia, Norfund
Abdulmajid NsekelaGroup CEO & Managing Director, CRDB Bank
Dimantha SeneviratneDirector and CEO, National Development Bank

Can a commercial investor make a lasting difference in African agriculture? 

Scaling up agriculture is essential for poverty reduction in Africa. Increasing food, energy and fertilizer prices makes growth and productivity in food production even more critical – and difficult.  

Investing in this sector comes at substantial risk. Many investors have failed, and banks are reluctant to lend. 

Is it possible to combine contributing to the development of the African agriculture sector with financial returns? 

Moderator: Ellen Cathrine Rasmussen, Executive Vice President – Scalable Enterprises, Norfund

Charlotte AmanquahRegional Head Commercial Banking, Ecobank
Chris IsaacChief Investment Officer, AgDevCo
William NyaokeRegional Director – East Africa, Norfund

Panel discussion with politicians

Moderator: Heikki Holmås, Chief Sustainability Officer, Multiconsult

Anne Beathe TvinnereimMinister of International Development, Centre Party
Dag Inge UlsteinMember of Parliament, Christian Democratic Party
Ingjerd SchouMember of Parliament, Conservative party