2015: an important year for the international development agenda

In our Annual Review 2015, our Chairman, Graham Wrigley, looks back at a milestone year.

2015 was an important year for CDC and the development agenda.

For the first time in 20 years, we received an investment from the UK Government. This new capital will allow us to invest, in phases, on an even greater scale in job-creating sectors such as agribusiness, infrastructure, financial institutions and construction.

I’m grateful to our shareholder, the Board and the CDC team for the immense amount of work and thought they put into building, and vigorously testing, the business case. Last year I wrote that we were sharply focused on realising our new strategy, set in 2012. And as you read this report, you’ll see that this year has been no different. We’ve increased our pace of investment and backed businesses we believe will make a real difference to the economic well-being of their countries and, importantly, the people living and working in the communities they operate in.

It’s not always an easy task. Finding businesses in Africa and South Asia that have the potential to meet our dual objectives, of having a development impact as well as providing a financial return, is hard. The legal, regulatory and economic systems that allow businesses to flourish in countries such as the UK are often lacking in the regions where we operate. We search for businesses that strive, as we do, for commercial return and high standards in areas such as the environment and corporate governance. On top of this, we have to make sure we bring something that purely commercial investors couldn’t or wouldn’t. If the pool of potential investments seems big at the beginning, it certainly isn’t when we’ve filtered it for these criteria.

This approach means we’ve found and backed some great businesses and great teams. And we’ve been doing this while growing our own organisation quickly, which is no small challenge in itself. Thank you to the CDC team, led by our committed and inspiring CEO Diana Noble, for continuing to rise to the challenge every day. We’ve also strengthened the development impact skills of our Board, by adding Professor Sam Fankhauser of the London School of Economics.

We expect another impact specialist to join in 2016, which will create a better balance between investment and development impact experience. I’d also like to thank the external members of our investment committees, who provide invaluable support to our investment decision making by bringing deep knowledge of products and sectors in the countries where we invest.

Of course, it wasn’t just a landmark year for CDC, it was a momentous year for every country, organisation and individual interested in achieving We feel very motivated to live up to our history and do more to create lasting change for people living in the poorest parts of the world. $2.5trn Only half the $2.5 trillion needed to achieve the Global Goals is currently available. sustainable development across the world. The new Global Goals, agreed in September, set everyone’s sights on 2030. Goal 8 promotes “sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” and so particularly resonates with our mission. A strong private sector is essential for providing the income, jobs, goods and services that help people escape poverty.

The United Nations estimates that only half the annual $2.5 trillion needed to achieve the Global Goals is currently available, which is why the Government’s increased focus on economic development in the new UK Aid Strategy, along with its new money for CDC, is so important. Over the past 70 years, we have backed many thousands of successful businesses and helped change millions of lives for the better. Of course, we’re just one small part of the development landscape: NGOs, governments, businesses and countless others all have significant roles to play. But, as we look ahead to the coming years, and the challenge of the new agenda, we feel very motivated to live up to our history and do more to create lasting change for people living in the poorest parts of the world.

This article is taken from our Annual Review 2015: Growing in ambition and impact, which you can read in full here.