- Africa's Green Economy Summit
Exclusive Interview: Collaboration is the new competitive advantage
Updated: Dec 18, 2022
WORLD BANK ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM DEVELOPMENT INTERVIEW: “Collaboration is the new competitive advantage”
Exclusive interview with Grace Legodi, senior investment professional and advisory board member of the upcoming Africa’s Green Economy Summit. Grace is currently a venture partner and Investment Committee Member at Grindstone Ventures, and consults to The World Bank Group, helping them execute on Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Development in Southern Africa.
Tell us more about your organisation and your role and your experience in terms of investments? My name is Grace Legodi. I'm a consultant at the World Bank in the Finance Competitiveness and Innovation Team and we are doing a lot of work around entrepreneurship and ecosystem development, providing an enabling environment for entrepreneurs to thrive in South Africa and the four neighbouring countries. I am also an angel investor in my own right.
Tell us about any particular exciting projects or future developments that you can share with us that fit into the green economy space. Sure. Within the entrepreneurship ecosystem development, as the World Bank’s primary role is lending to developing countries and in that there are value added services which we provide for entrepreneurs and one of them within the green economy is centred within what we call the Innovation Bridge Portal.
This is a digital platform that provides access to knowledge, networks and markets, and the fourth pillar is funding providers. One of the big pillars that we are focusing on is green economy and as well as townships, helping them and get funded and given just the big funding gap that we're seeing amongst a green economy entrepreneurs in alternative and financing methods, be it asset financing, revenue-based financing methods to support entrepreneurs within the green economy.
Any particular success stories that you can share within the green economy specifically? Looking at the 68 entrepreneurs we have assisted in terms of business development, I would say there are founders that come to mind in e-mobility, be it within South Africa as well as Kenya, that have really made headwinds in terms really getting their businesses to a point where they are investment-ready.
Another interesting start-up that I've seen within my angel investing community is one called Plentify, whereby they look to have an equilibrium or regulator for a geyser. So it is like a gadget that has behavioural finance to see when the highs and lows are and then the it stores your energy or power during the low periods and then it uses that electricity in the high periods, and that's effectively regulating down the rate of how much electricity you use for your geyser.
And I think it's things like that where, in a tough macro environment, it is good to see the innovations that are coming across within the green economy.
What in your experience, have been the biggest challenges in developing these projects? There are a lot of structural challenges that I think exist. One is when there are so many opportunities to solve more pertinent areas of development on the continent, sometimes it's very easy, when we are talking about the basics of like food and shelter etcetera, it is sometimes very hard to have to think about climate etcetera. So you find that, even though a green economy, there's more and more spotlight and activity or acquisitions that are happening to bring it to the fore and the importance of it to the fore.
But structurally, when there are so many other problems that need to be solved, it's a lot harder for them to actually like walk the talk of the priority, but they want to make green energy. So, that then kind of filters or slips through into funding. So, when it comes to actually funding some of these projects, they have their heart in the right place to fund green energy projects, but you're finding that there isn't enough capital that is brought into the sector.
And it's not just about the capital, there actually isn't enough ecosystem infrastructure for developing these businesses these and ensuring success for these projects being brought to the fore and not enough resources have been put into this sector. So that's where I would say are the biggest hardships at the moment.
And in your view the opportunities? In terms of opportunities, I think it's not without opportunities. I think within the sector we speak of green economy as actually such a wide framework. The opportunities that you do see are subsectors within green economy that I would like to call sectors of the future, where, if you come in early, one can really be impactful in the community and whilst also generating outsized returns. So, I think that is where there are big opportunities in that regard.
You're a member of the Advisory Board of the Africa's Green Economy Summit in February 2023. What are you most looking forward to? Exposure, awareness, connecting and collaborating. Just really looking forward to the ecosystem being open to what is out there and bringing that to the fore and seeing what synergies there are to really grow this market and make the most of it is. And it will be in the beautiful city of Cape Town.
And I think just not just within Africa, but sort of globally emerging markets and globally and just really I'd say thinking from a global perspective as opposed to silos of just South Africa and Africa. I think that is what I'm looking forward to the most.
What will be your message at the event? I think my biggest message at the event is that collaboration is the new competitive advantage. And let us really come together and really use the green energy economy and to be the change that we want to see on the African continent and globally at large. So, yes, let's connect and open to connecting and sharing.