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EDFI Academy: New DFI staff network, exchange ideas on sustainability, impact investing

25.10.2023 Brussels 07.11.2023

BRUSSELS, 7 November 2023 – Knowledge exchange flowed in late October at the EDFI Academy in Brussels. More than 60 newly hired Development Finance Institutions professionals from European DFIs took part in the three-day training programme which gave a chance to network among the DFI community and delve deeper into a broad range of topics and common challenges.

EDFI Academy participants in Brussels. October 2023.

Day 1: Development finance unfolded

The EDFI Academy kicked off on 25 October with idea exchange on key concepts and disciplines within the field. DFI experts presented their insights into the issues and disciplines that comprise work in the field.

Tony Bakels from FMO set the scene with an in-depth introduction to development banking. He was followed by FMO colleague Judith Rosenbrand, who gave a masterclass on technical assistance, or TA, which provides value in sustainable development finance projects alongside the investment side.

Christoph Hoeren from Germany’s DEG kicked off the afternoon by tackling the world of private sector development and country risk appetite, shedding light on EDFI members’ aims and approaches and contrasting both with those from commercial and investment banking. Magali Mayssal from PROPARCO in France followed with a snapshot of environmental & social aspects of development finance. She outlined the need for EDFI members to provide measures of positive impacts. She also looked at environmental and social objectives – a main priority for EDFI members.

The day concluded with a heartfelt and thought-provoking talk with BIO chief Luuk Zonneveld, who serves as EDFI association chair. He urged attendees to never lose sight that DFI work must consider the needs and experiences of those served on the ground.

Attendees took in sessions all while meeting other ‘DFI-ers’ – employees of European development finance institutions. They appreciated the “great opportunity” the Academy provides and a positive setting to engage in “good discussions and presentations.” One participant noted she would recommend the EDFI Academy to “anyone interested in a DFI career.”

Day 2: Digging deeper into EDFI, corporate governance, emerging markets private equity

EDFI Academy participants heard first thing on Day 2 from newly appointed EDFI Managing Director David Kuijper, who introduced EDFI, member DFIs role within it, and how the association supports its member institutions. Gustavo Rojas Bermudez from FMO focused on corporate governance, emphasizing its significance in ensuring responsible and effective operations within DFIs.

One participant commented: “I have never thought that a session on Corporate Governance would be that exciting. Great presentation of a ‘dry’ topic. Many thanks to the speaker!”

Following the first two sessions, Simone Verbraeken of Belgium’s BIO demystified the complex world of emerging markets private equity, showing how it differs from developed markets. She also went in-depth on the typical characteristics of private equity fund investment and what attendees should look for when processing private equity fund investments.

EDFI Management Company, blended finance unpacked

The Day 2 afternoon session commenced with EDFI MC CEO Rodrigo Madrazo who shared the EDFI Management Company story and unpacked blended finance and opportunities and challenges that come with it. The afternoon included individual member presentations, where each participant had the opportunity to showcase their organizations. They outlined areas like strategy, end goals, reach and impact. The session enabled those on hand to gain a comprehensive understanding of diverse approaches adopted by member institutions.

Case study group work: An invaluable learning tool

Two case study group exercises on Day 1 and Day 2 gave participants to ‘dig-in’ to real-world decision making faced by DFIs. Led by Matt North of BII of the United Kingdom, small groups formed to study case study briefs, engage in robust group problem-solving and make policy decisions. The exercises opened new insights and sharpened decision skills through a real-world scenario. Groups presented their findings and conclusions to the workshop.

Day 3: EDFI member ‘show and tell’, foreign exchange, measuring impact

A half-day morning session on Day 3 closed out the EDFI Academy. It tackled development finance subjects around local currency financing and development effects and impact. Jonas Enrico Luini from TCX presented the world of local currency financing, shedding light on the key role it plays to foster economic stability in developing countries. Frank Simon from DEG took attendees through development effects and impact. Simon pressed the need for DFIs to measure and assess the positive impact they create.

The EDFI Academy: A rite of passage for early career DFI staff

Held twice yearly, the forum is a must-attend event for early stage European Development Finance Institution staff. Seasoned industry experts share their wisdom and welcome idea exchange during each session to build on their networks and strengthen collaboration. That includes question-and-answer time during each presentation to deepen their understanding of oftentimes complex subjects.

A catalyst for professional growth for new employees within European DFIs, the three-day EDFI Academy combines both training and teamwork all while equipping participants with a solid grasp of development and impact investing. Attended by people from nearly all EDFI members, this edition of the EDFI Academy further underscores the pledge by European DFIs to nurture talent, further develop skillsets, and foster a high-performing workplace.

Ewa Lubiejewski, who heads the EDFI Academy, concluded: “The Academy because attendees leave armed with a wider knowledge base, new ways to approach problems, and a wider lens to see development finance and its many facets.

“The best practice exchange and case studies imbedded in the programme sharpen their skills thanks to learnings from seasoned experts in the field.”