Actis’ Vakilian: Infra can deliver ‘basic human rights’ and 20 percent returns

The firm's newest partner spoke to affiliate title PE Hub Europe about the impact potential of infrastructure and diversity in private markets.

Private markets still have work to do to improve socioeconomic diversity according to according to Actis investor relations lead Neda Vakilian.

Vakilian was promoted to new partner at the beginning of April, having previously held positions at Green Investment Bank and law firm Clifford Chance. The full interview with affiliate title PE Hub Europe is available here (registration or subscription required). A few takeaways for New Private Markets readers:

  • Infra as impact: Vakilian emphasised the potential of the infrastructure asset class to deliver positive impact. Her firm manages the second largest pool of impact capital. “Fundamentally, with the help of infra, people can better educate their children, open bank accounts and power their homes – these are basic human rights,” she said. “You also make 20 percent-plus return on it, so you hope that the person whose money we’re using can see a lot of value in that too.”
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion: Vakilian is Persian by heritage, born during a bomb raid in the Iran-Iraq war. Her parents are first-generation immigrants. “Lots of opportunities have been opened for me,” she said. “On reflection, as someone in their 40s, I consider myself lucky because it can be harder because of your socioeconomic background, your natural starting point, to find those openings.” Private markets still have a lot to do on diversity from the socioeconomic standpoint, she added. “We have to make the entry into the industry less hard and access talent from places that aren’t natural filters.”