Roberta Annan is a Ghanaian investment expert, philanthropist and all-round role model for women in business.
She has extensive experience in the private markets, having founded Annan Capital Partners, an investment company in Sub-Saharan Africa that specialises in bespoke advisory services, venture building, business development and fundraising.
Roberta has established the Impact Fund for African Creatives (IFFAC) with the support of IQ-EQ’s Launchpad programme. We sat down with Roberta to learn more about this endeavor.
How did IFFAC come about and how has IQ-EQ supported the team in its development?
Roberta: “Having gone through many trials and tribulations over the past 12 years as we opened and led the African Fashion Foundation, we made use of the opportunity to learn and plan for the future. We developed a robust proof of concept that gave us a different and innovative way of looking at the African creative space and how we as Africans can benefit from our culture, heritage and creativity.
“We wanted to be able to own what is ours and be able to grow, nurture and monetise it for the benefit of the next generation of African creatives. It is based upon this foundation that IFFAC came about. We have been one of the first clients of IQ-EQ Launchpad, a unique programme supporting female fund managers with tailored solutions, global network access and more.”
What makes African talent such a special opportunity?
“The African continent is filled with such a rich cultural heritage, as well as stories that can be expressed in all kinds of different forms of creative expression. From fashion, beauty, the arts, to other aspects of the creative economy, it's obvious that the talent and ways of expression from all parts of Africa are unique. The stories are endless, as is the African talent that tells them.”
What can others be doing to support the development of the African ecosystem?
“We need people and business to take an active part in the African ecosystem. We need players who are committed to advancing the ecosystem's development across regions and borders. It has to be a continued collective effort across the board to make it easier to access funding, training and other resources. This also has to be done without needing to change who we are as Africans or how we choose to tell our stories.”
Can you tell us more about IFFAC?
“At IFFAC, we're dedicated to developing creative talent through our three-stage approach: incubation, acceleration and seed financing. The first two steps are crucial in establishing a strong foundation for targeted businesses and preparing them for capital injection. In our third stage, pre-selected businesses receive seed funding after pitching to our investment committee and submitting a vetted business plan, along with technical assistance and support.
“To provide even more support, the IFFAC platform offers three sub-funds totalling US$150 million: the $20m grant fund, which supports incubator and accelerator programmes; the $30m early-stage fund, which provides funding for businesses in their early stages; and the $100m development and infrastructure fund.
“Overall, our three-stage approach embodies development, expansion and funding to put African talents and their businesses at the forefront of the global creative economy.”
What examples can be given for success stories from the IFFAC portfolio?
“The African Fashion Futures Incubator, established by IFFAC, has been launched with 14 African fashion designers from Ghana, Nigeria and Rwanda as its inaugural cohort. These emerging designers are undergoing peer learning, cultural exchange and training facilitated by our implementation partner, Seedstars. Notable designers in the incubator include Ajabeng, who is already applying the knowledge gained from the incubator in preparation for launching his "Maame Yaa" collection for autumn/winter 23 in April 2023.
“Furthermore, each designer will receive grant funding at the end of the training to aid them in developing an ethical brand with regard to people, place and profit.”
More about Roberta
Roberta’s world view has been international and entrepreneurial from the very beginning. From schooling in New Delhi, to university in Canada and the United States, Roberta was always surrounded by inquisitive minds from a range of backgrounds. She then joined the United Nations Environment Programme, the first step in her humanitarian outreach and philanthropy, and a team she still works with as a Goodwill Ambassador.
After her experience with the UN, Roberta founded what is now Annan Capital Partners to connect private capital with projects across Africa that have real impact on local communities. Roberta’s passion for fashion also led to her founding the Africa Fashion Foundation in 2011, with the aim of bringing African fashion the funding it needs to challenge the European and American fashion industries.
To further support the African creative industry, Roberta launched IFFAC in 2021. The objective of the platform is to provide financial and technical support to creatives across the continent to grow sustainable businesses, and to build a platform for Africa’s next generation of creative talent.