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Our CEO, Alix Zwane, introduces the vision for a Commonwealth Innovation Fund

Posted 16th April 2018

Today at the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Marlborough House our CEO, Alix Zwane, spoke about the Commonwealth’s vision for a Commonwealth Innovation Fund, delivered by GIF, with the goal of delivering social impact across emerging economies of the Commonwealth. The full text of her opening statement can be found below.

In a world that is shaped by innovation, the Commonwealth is a global family, a unique group of nations with a shared commitment to prosperity . The Commonwealth Innovation Fund can help make the vision of advanced economies helping emerging ones a reality.

My organisation, the Global Innovation Fund was founded just over five years ago as a social venture capital fund for emerging economies across the globe. We were capitalised by a group of governments, including Australia and the UK, to invest international development budgets smartly in the pursuit of social returns, to enable impact-focussed innovators to access the early-stage funding they need, that is not available through traditional development channels. GIF is pleased to host this fund on behalf of this unique family of nations.

We have a strong track record of finding great innovations in Commonwealth countries that save and improve lives – over 80% of our investments and grants have involved delivery in the Commonwealth. Investments like:

  • Babban Gona, a farming franchise business in Nigeria that is raising incomes for smallholder farmers by tackling issues of land fragmentation, fixing broken value chains, and making available the finance, extension services, and market access that farmers need.
  • In Bangladesh, we’re backing the work of the Behavioural Insights Team to utilise the latest behavioural science to improve tax compliance and build the capacity of the domestic civil service.

With support of the advanced economies of the Commonwealth, and working with the Secretariat, this new fund will focus solely on supporting the innovators who are creating productive jobs and better public services in emerging economies of the Commonwealth. Over the course of this summit and in the months ahead, the Secretary General and her staff will engage with Commonwealth countries to secure their financial support for the Commonwealth Innovation Fund. Together, we can address the pioneer gap where brilliant entrepreneurs and innovators are unable to fulfil their potential because of their inability to secure early-stage funding.

I want to congratulate the Commonwealth nations for putting innovation on the agenda for Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and at the heart of your shared mission, and the Secretariat on bringing the Innovation Hub to fruition.

I am delighted that the Global Innovation Fund can partner with the Commonwealth Secretariat and the 53 member nations in a shared commitment to putting innovation at the centre of the agenda for prosperity, democracy and peace.

Thank you.