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U.S Foundation to Hike Africa Investments

FILE - Africa Delivers Biggest Profits on Investment, Report Says.
FILE - Africa Delivers Biggest Profits on Investment, Report Says.

The Casey Family Programs says it’s looking to invest over a $100 million in a diversified portfolio on the African continent as the U.S is set to host its second U.S - Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington next week.

The Seattle-based entity is the U.S’s largest foundation focused on preventing the need for foster care in the country by investing in various sectors overseas.

The foundation has been working with Prosper Africa, a U.S Government Initiative mandated to increase trade and investment between Africa and the U.S.

VOA’s Ignatius Annor discussed these efforts with Joseph Boateng, chief investment officer at the Casey Family Programs ahead of the December 13 – 15 summit.

This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.

VOA: What are your intentions for the impending second U.S.- Africa Leaders’ Summit?

JOSEPH BOATENG: I've been very much involved with trying to get investors from the U.S. to work with businesspeople and the communities on the ground in Africa to invest and improve the well-being of our respective communities. I see this forum as a very good [opportunity] to move from that messaging to action. At the end of the day, we are looking for partnership. We are not talking about charity, but arm's length transactions.

VOA: What sort of partnerships are you envisaging and how would these partnerships benefit Africans?

BOATENG: I'll go back to the African proverb which says if you want to go fast, you go alone, but you may burnout right?.... if you want to go far, you go together. I believe in the power of partnership, so be it a local investor that we can invest alongside in various industries, businesses - green field, energy, technology, real estate, education, healthcare and equity. We want people who are aligned with our mission and long-term horizon.

VOA: What do you expect from partners that are coming from the continent to Washington D.C?

BOATENG: I'm looking for partners who will be super transparent, who are not afraid of hard work, and are aligned in terms of interests with us - that is partners who emphasize long term - not short term events. I want partners who are interested in making a meaningful change in the well-being of people on the continent. If our investments do well, our African partners achieve their goals on the continent, and we get the resources we need to improve the well-being of children in foster care in the U.S.

Because when we invest in a child in the U.S who would otherwise become a statistic, we're creating an income stream - from a child who could have gone astray to a productive adult who would generate the stream of income the same way that if the investment is successful on the continent, it will impact many lives in a meaningful way. Be it I.T investments, infrastructure, or businesses to provide employment.

VOA: How much are you looking to commit to investments after the summit ends, and conversations go well with African partners?

BOATENG: Over the years and including this year, we've invested, and we're close to reaching $100 million in both commitments and investments on the ground on the continent. We are guided by the attractiveness of what we see and it's certainly not the ceiling. So, to the extent that we find compelling and attractive investments, we’re realistic about the returns, can assess these risks and work in collaboration with our local partners, I believe at that time, that number could even be higher.

VOA: Finally, what do you hope would happen next?

BOATENG: At the end of the day, we want to profit with purpose, by working with our partners on the ground and we're able to support the well-being of children in this country. If all these are aligned, the sky is the limit for us. That's something that we will stick to even as we explore to increase our investments on the continent. I hope to see engagement, and that whatever we do is translated into action. I don’t want it to be a "photo op," where things come to a halt once we leave. We don’t want that to happen - to see actual deals take effect.