PODCAST: The poor are ‘profoundly absent’ from impact investing conversations

Can private capital really solve the world's biggest challenges? Is there something wrong with the way private equity funds are raised? We discuss the rise and fall of Abraaj with Simon Clark, co-author of 'The Key Man'.

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Arif Naqvi built Abraaj Capital into the most prominent emerging markets private equity firm in the world, and was one of the loudest proponents of impact investing. But then it all collapsed when investors complained that their money had gone missing.

The Key Man is a rollercoaster of a book that chronicles the rise and fall of Naqvi. New Private Markets spoke with Simon Clark, a veteran journalist and one of the books co-authors, about whether he thinks there is a problem with a system that allows a firm to raise $3 billion of institutional capital while behind the scenes it is crumbling amid allegations of fraud.

We discuss two of the major themes of the book: the limitations of private capital in solving the world’s problems, and whether private fund investment – which has the capacity to enrich individuals – is the correct tool with which to combat poverty.

Clark says there is a “profound absence” in the story – and impacting investing in general – of poor people involved in the process. “To have conversations about the global economy and poverty with only relatively wealthy or rich people in the room should become as unacceptable as a room full of men talking about gender equality,” he said. “I mean, the more you think about it, the more absurd it seems.”