Ambassador Stromayer Remarks
Social Enterprise Conference
June 6, 2018
Ecobank Pan-African Center
Mister the Prime Minister
Mister the Minister of Commerce
Madame the Minister of Grassroots Development
Madame the Group Executive of Commercial Bank for Ecobank ETI
Mister the CEO of Alaffia
Heads of industry and business
Members of the diplomatic corps
Ladies and gentlemen
Good morning. I am happy to be with you. It is not easy to follow Olowo-n’djo, but I will try.
Actually, in a certain sense, the U.S. Embassy has been following Mr. Tchala and following Alaffia for the past several years, because Alaffia was the source of our belief that social enterprises can help Togo to develop and prosper. All our activities to promote the concept of social entrepreneurship have been inspired by the success of Alaffia and the strength of its model. And we are very grateful and we thank you, Olowo-n’djo.
I am also very pleased that several other American companies are now operating the social enterprise sector, such as Ten by Three and SOLEVA, which is a partner of the American firm Greenlight Planet. We thank their representatives for being here today, and I hope in the coming years to see even more U.S. investment in social businesses in Togo.
I want to also thank the government of Togo, especially his excellence the Prime Minister, for its excellent accompaniment of the Embassy across many domains but especially in promoting the social enterprise model. The presence this morning of the Minister of Commerce and the Minister of Development and of so many authorities shows the importance that the government has accorded to this issue.
Ladies and gentlemen, we just watched a video that showed what an incredible impact social enterprises can have on the communities in which they operate. But there was one thing in the video that I did not agree with. The video said that the social enterprise model is the model of the future. I say, rather, that it is the model of today. In 2019 the size of the global impact investing market rose to $500 billion. Impact investments are investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. This type of investment is now rapidly replacing traditional charity or development assistance. Impact investing, social enterprises, corporate social responsibility – these are all part of the same spectrum of an economic model that puts the social mission at the heart of the business. It is a model that is in the process of shaking up the established paradigms of development.
Togo has all the resources and is perfectly adapted to attract impact investment in social businesses, especially now with its ambitious National Development Plan that puts the accent on increasing the role of the private sector. From the agriculture sector where we have shea butter and cocoa and coffee and cotton which can all be harvested according to fair trade principles, to the energy sector where there is huge potential for off-grid solar, to the telecommunications sector where there has been major growth in fintech, micro-credit, and mobile banking, Togo has enormous potential to become a hub for social enterprises. When an investor thinks of a country that nourishes social enterprises, they should think of Togo.
The goal of this conference is to align policies, partnerships, and people in order to realize the goal of turning Togo into a hub for social enterprises. This is the bet, and together with all of you, I think we will win it.
I wish you a very fruitful and productive conference. Thank you.