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SEAF and the UN SDGs

Since their introduction in 2015, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)  have emerged as the generally accepted criteria guiding investors interested in achieving impact. The 17 goals cover a wide range of social and environmental goals, the attainment of which are generally recognized as ensuring unambiguous developmental progress for the world’s poor. Accordingly, they have been embraced by investors (public and private) across an array of asset classes as most relevant for their impact programs. SEAF has been making impact investments since 1989[1] and fully accepts the utility of the SDGs as the touchstone for impact investing.

Though the SDGs were developed six years ago, over the course of its more than 30 years, SEAF has made investments addressing each of the SDGs. The bedrock principle of SEAF’s work could be restated as “Decent Jobs and Economic Growth” – SDG #8 – which we seek to achieve through our primary activities of investing in and developing entrepreneurs in underserved markets. Moreover, SEAF and CEED have mobilized and deployed public and private capital through virtually all SEAF investments and CEED activities, aligning with the objective of SDG #17 – Partnerships for the Goals. Achieving the SDGs is thus, and has always been, at the core of SEAF’s mission and the impact objectives of each of our funds.

In addition to SDG #8 and #17 as noted, SEAF has made a significant amount of investments addressing the objectives of SDG #2 – Zero Hunger (specifically through our investments in sustainable agriculture) SDG #5 – Gender Equality, #7 – Affordable and Clean Energy, #9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure and #12 Responsible Consumption and Production. The remainder of the SDGs have been addressed through our work in both direct and indirect manners over more than 30 years, 38 funds and 14 Centers of Entrepreneurship and Executive Development.

SEAF assures the alignment of each of our investments with SDGs. Each new SEAF investment identifies the SDG(s) it intends to address. Impact metrics are set based on their alignment between the company and these specific SDGs, and SEAF monitors and assesses the achievement of these metrics throughout the investment holding period. This is, of course, in addition to our traditional impact and ESG programs targeting core impact metrics and responsible investing and operating principles.

Achieving the SDGs won’t be easy. It will require a collective effort of players across a wide spectrum, from both the private and public sectors. SEAF believes that sustainable progress towards meeting the SDGs requires working through private entrepreneurs locally present in their markets, and therefore knowledgeable about the needs of their market and the means to meet those needs. SEAF’s mission is to partner with these entrepreneurs and with public and private investors everywhere who believe that the changes sought through the SDG framework represent important steps towards a better future.



[1] See our earlier Development Impact Reports “Impact Beyond Investment” here: