Getting to Know Matthew – An Insight into his Passion for Innovative Finance for Social Impact

by | Apr 12, 2024 | Blog

“Through my educational background and qualifications, I knew that the work that I wanted to pursue needed to lead to making an impact. I want to make a difference and be that lever of change to shift things. Even if it’s something small, I just want to be part of that movement.”- Matthew Damon. 

Matthew Damon is a Junior Analyst in The Sparks Programme pilot project run by Accendio. He joins Innovation Edge through our partnership with Accendio, an economic development consultancy that focuses on growing the impact ecosystem by supporting impact organisations in their work. The programme will provide him with practical immersion into a social enterprise as well as exposure to strengthening entrepreneurship through innovative finance and development to bring substantial positive change.

We chatted to Matthew to learn more about his passion for innovative finance and economics to support and grow impact organisations. 

Who is Matthew?

Matthew holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics and Finance, and recently graduated with a BCom Honours in Economics at the University of Cape Town. He was a Graduate Trainee and Clerk at the Clicks Group in 2022 before joining Phaphama SEDI (Phaphama) as a Consultant. 

What led you to want to pursue a career in innovative finance to make an impact?

I was led to the innovative and impact space while I was working with Phaphama last year. Through my work and engaging with different people from impact organisations, I was exposed to guidance and insights on different budget structures that would later spark something in me. While I was learning and taking this all in, I ultimately decided that one day I wanted to be the person giving these talks. I want to be able to contribute to changing lives and explore more. 

The work I did at Phaphama was the biggest change for me in terms of my life’s direction, because I found a cause I knew I could grow and support using my background and knowledge. I was excited to collaborate to support somebody else’s idea.

How did you know The Sparks Programme was the ideal match for you?

I was interested in The Sparks Programme for a plethora of reasons. I believed the skills and expertise developed through my professional experience and my time as a volunteer at Phaphama would positively influence the growth of Accendio and the companies it collaborates with.

I am inherently creative, consistently finding new ways to solve problems or generate entirely new ideas. My interest in the programme is also a result of its forward-thinking ethos. Accendio is evidently innovative and actively seeks to make a positive change in the development space—a change to which I aspire to contribute to. As we spend a substantial amount of time at work, joining an ambitious company like Accendio through The Sparks Programme would expose me to a variety of high-performing teams and experts, providing me with the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded professionals and industry leaders in the space.

Did you always know you wanted to work in an impact space?

Yes, my educational background and qualifications were geared towards the impact industry, which demonstrated my genuine passion for the type of work impact organisations do. There were a few key moments for me especially during my undergraduate studies that encouraged my direction. I think the big one was when a guest lecturer in one of our finance courses said, “If you want to look to the future, that’s when we need our economists and finance professionals because now, you’re going to use information to talk about the future.” That stuck with me because I knew I was a forward-thinking person and my economics dissertation was all around informal businesses. So, it was essentially looking at investment opportunities in informal businesses or trying to model profitability. It ended up going hand in hand with my passion that led me down this path and I firmly believe that if you are passionate about something, your productivity levels will significantly increase. 

What are you most excited about doing and learning during your time at IE?

I think IE’s position is unique compared to other players or stakeholders in the space. As an impact investor, IE does it so well, the team really embraces impact investing and doesn’t just look and focus solely on whether the solution is financially viable. That’s a skill that I would like to learn, especially developing that framework and understanding how to measure performance in this regard. 

What is your hope for the future?

I look forward to a global society that embraces a non-zero-sum approach, where collaboration and mutual progress is the norm. This shift in global attitude is what I believe would foster a more equitable and sustainable world, where shared victories contribute to the collective well-being of humanity. But on a smaller scale I’d like to see this shift in South Africa first.

Author: Lerato Kau- Communications Analyst at Innovation Edge