The Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF)

The Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF)

The Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) has grown into a major international event, drawing together business and government leaders from all Commonwealth countries for a dialogue on practical ways to enhance trade and investment. Traditionally, the CBF has been a 70/30 split of attendees from business and government.

The CBF facilitates direct business linkages and investment promotion activities. The Forum will be run under strict Covid protocols and structured around plenary sessions and interactive workshops over three days. It is a platform for B2G and B2B discussion at the very highest levels, addressing key themes that affect the 54 diverse Commonwealth member nations.

The Forum provides multiple opportunities for one-to-one business meetings as well as networking during the specially programmed networking breaks, the Forum Reception and Gala Dinner.

CBF 2021 will be held on the three days preceding the Official Opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), to maximise the participation of visiting Heads of Government and their delegations. It will be addressed by Heads of Government, senior ministers, captains of industry and board level business leaders from around the Commonwealth and beyond.

CBF 2021 will be one of the first, major, global in-person events post-Covid and will be an opportunity for participants to help contribute to a reset of business norms across the Commonwealth.

CBF 2021 is organised as partnership between the Government of Rwanda and the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC). We expect up to 500 delegates to travel to Kigali for CBF 2021.

Name: Philip Lucky


22 – 24 JUNE 2021

Day 1: Tuesday 22 June

09:30 Opening Ceremony

Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming

10:30 Networking break

11:00 Session 2: Opportunity to Reset: Leveraging the Commonwealth for a Global Recovery

The economic shock of Covid-19 has pushed the global economy into a sharp downturn and exposed systemic fragilities. The road to an inclusive economic recovery relies on the endurance of the Commonwealth’s shared values: free and fair trade, diversity and multilateralism. How do the shared values inform the ‘Commonwealth Advantage’ and how can the Commonwealth network be leveraged to reshape the international agenda and create greater prosperity?

12:30 Networking lunch

14:00 Session 3: Global Supply Chains: Making the Commonwealth Advantage Count

The shocks caused by the Covid-19 control measures, from the shutting-down of factories to restrictions on vital medical supplies and some food shortages, brought the vulnerabilities of the global supply chain into sharp focus. How can Commonwealth trade links drive secure, diverse and reputable supply chains; balance onshore and offshore supplies and foster resilient economies?

Session 4: An Entrepreneurial Commonwealth: Creating Tomorrow’s Innovators

How can Commonwealth countries encourage young people to think of entrepreneurship? What role can education and mentoring play in skilling and encouraging? Are fiscal incentives and innovation hubs enough to create ecosystems? How does the Commonwealth retain its brightest and can hubs such as the Kigali Innovation City incubate the next global
success story?

Session 5: Women Leading the World, Leading the Commonwealth

The women leading Commonwealth corporations are evidence that diversity works for business. This session celebrates the excellence of female leadership whilst advocating for deeper change and greater innovation. How can programmes like SheTrades help aspiring female leaders to match opportunities with their ambition?

15:30 Networking break

16:00 Session 6: Tech for Development: Futureproofing Digital Infrastructure

In 2020, broadband stood out as a critical utility and an essential component of the digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic. The world’s increased reliance on technology has laid bare the divide between the households who can access the digital economy and those who cannot. What are the investment opportunities in the rollout of broadband in emerging markets and how are initiatives such as the Kigali Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution bridging the gap to ensure that no one is left behind?

Session 7: Investing for Social impact: Aligning Social and Financial Returns

Today’s philanthropists and impact investors are aligning their capital to the Sustainable Development Goals to weigh their financial return on investments alongside environmental and social returns. What steps can the international investor community take to mainstream Environmental, Social and Governance standards? How can we standardise ESG metrics to keep track of investment performance and accountability?

Session 8: Fashioning the Commonwealth’s Textile Industry

Many Commonwealth economies such as India, Bangladesh and Ghana were seriously impacted by the pandemic halting production and exports. Millions of workers were left unemployed as retailers in developed markets had to manage lockdowns and dampened consumer demand. Against these global headwinds, could a new era of pan-Commonwealth cooperation, help spur innovation and increase retained value?

17:30 Special session: The Business of Trust – Special Session on Governance and the Rule of Law

18:30 Reception hosted by Rwanda

Day 2: Wednesday 23 June

07:30 Special Breakfast Session

09:00 Session 9: Our Common Wealth: The Business of Health

As Government and the private sector collaborated to combat the Covid-19 crisis, a country’s economic and health performance became inextricably linked. How do government and the private sector work together to ensure a healthy population? Insurance is one answer and full state provision is another. Can wholly private provision ever be the answer to a vibrant economy and a productive workforce?

Session 10: A Connected Commonwealth: FinTech for Growth

Tech was one of 2020’s standout sectors but digital is not yet for all. In a digital world, remote communities need not be remote, government can up its tax take and business could find new customers and growth capital at an affordable rate. Can blockchain really revolutionise everything from credit decisions to legal and audit processes? What is the potential of Fintech in a truly digital Commonwealth?

Session 11: Clean Energy: Advancing the Transition to a Green Economy

In extending modern energy services to all citizens, Commonwealth countries must balance their fast-growing energy demands with long-term economic and environmental sustainability. Decisions made today will shape the world’s energy sector for decades to come. How can the Commonwealth serve as a platform for international cooperation to advance the acceleration of renewable energy uptake? What are some of the measures,
incentives and policies that Governments can introduce in order to attract greater investment into clean energy and ease the transition to a green economy?

10:30 Networking break

11:00 Session 12: International Finance Centres and the Real Economy

International Finance Centres are critical to the growth of the real economy. What measures are IFCs across the Commonwealth taking to boost regional recovery? How can a Centre of Excellence, such as Kigali’s support business? Can the Commonwealth agree on integration to reduce the cost of cross-border flows and spur growth?

Session 13: Innovation in Digital Healthcare

Digital healthcare’s use of interconnected systems to help manage illnesses and health risks could transform outcomes for patients. How can technological change, from AI and big data to blockchain be harnessed as a solution for wider access? How can Governments and insurers support a fast-developing sector to create a genuine public good?

11:00 Session 14: The Commonwealth Standards Network
Trade across borders flows more easily with a common set of standards and regulations. How does the Commonwealth ensure that standards encourage trade, give consumers confidence and add value for producers without them serving to protect markets for incumbents? Focusing on the Commonwealth Standard Network launched at CHOGM 2018 in London, this session will be developed in partnership with the UK’s British Standards Institution (BSI), with the support of the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office
(FCDO) and will look at the next two stages of the programme.

12:30 Networking lunch

14:00 Session 15: Smart FDI: Driving the Recovery

Foreign Direct Investment flows are falling worldwide. How are Commonwealth Investment Promotion Agencies adapting to economic uncertainty and unstable geopolitics? As the pressure of an economic downturn impacts their communities, how can IPAs persuade capital to flow and ensure a win-win outcome for employees and investors?

Session 16: Field to Fork: Commonwealth Excellence in Agribusiness

Food is a key outcome of agricultural activities, and, in turn, is a key input into good nutrition. What are the innovative, value-added solutions within the agricultural industry that can simultaneously satisfy the need for employment and the nutritional quality of food required to sustain rapidly expanding populations? How can Commonwealth Governments maximise offset strategies to secure resilient food systems that are sustainable and affordable and job creators?

Session 17: Financing Blue-Green Growth for Sustainable Islands

The unique characteristics of small islands are both benefits and vulnerabilities. How can green financing solutions such as “The Commonwealth Green Finance Facility” help islands use their size and agility to accelerate their uptake of Nature Based Solutions and transform their reliance on tourism and shipping into blue-green growth? What are the other opportunities available for clean growth that drive economic development
and ecological resilience on land and sea?

15:30 Networking break

16:00 Session 18: AfCFTA: Unlocking Africa’s Vast Potential

The African Continental Free Trade Area agreement promises the opportunity to deliver transformative growth for Africans. How can African cooperation and integration intensify? How will AfCFTA enable value-added internal trade across a continent that is home to the world’s fastest growing labour force and consumer markets? How is the AfCFTA’s secretariat in Ghana planning to address the infrastructure gap and support African businesses in their efforts to meet ever-rising internal and global demand for services and added-value manufactured goods?

16:00 Session 19: Commonwealth Insurance Forum

De-risking and insuring against loss are key elements of global business. The ‘insurance protection gap’ is especially felt in emerging markets. How can the Commonwealth serve to strengthen the insurance industry and help provide access to deeper pools? How did the insurers grapple with an unpredicted pandemic that upended business operations and national health services?

Session 20: Reimagining Tourism

Tourism is a ‘supergrowth industry’ and a vital pillar of many Commonwealth countries. In this session, Commonwealth industry leaders will share their future strategies, such as the leveraging of the Commonwealth network, to revitalise tourism and revive ancillary sectors, including transport, hospitality, and natural and cultural attractions. As tourism numbers are expected to remain suppressed by low consumer confidence, what lessons will the industry adopt from past crises? Now that health protocols can ensure a degree of physical safety, how can industry overcome concerns and instil people’s confidence in international travel?

18:00 Reception: Welcome to Rwanda

19:00 Forum Dinner: Hosted by Rwanda

Day 3: Thursday 24 June

07:30 Special Breakfast Session

09:00 Session 21: Commonwealth Extractives: Catalysts for Public Value Creation?

The extractive industries play a dominant role in the growth and development of many Commonwealth countries. When natural resources are managed with transparency and accountable governance, the benefit creates societal and public value. How can the Commonwealth be of benefit to extractive industries and the State-Owned Enterprises that operate in the sector, in generating investment, improving capacity building and shifting towards a low carbon future? Is Rwanda’s Tantalum system a model of transparency for others?

Session 22: Commonwealth Investment Session

Led by visiting Head of Government

Session 23: Commonwealth Investment Session

Led by visiting Head of Government

10:00 Networking break

10:30 Session 24: The Future of Work: Employing Our Greatest Resource

With 2.4 billion citizens spanning 5 continents, the Commonwealth’s greatest strength lies in its people, 60% of whom are under the age of 30. What does the future of work hold for the next generations? Are our academic institutions producing young people with the skills and knowledge required for their future? How can business and government collaborate to deliver on the promise of the Commonwealth’s youth?

Session 25: Commonwealth Investment Session

Led by visiting Head of Government

Session 26:Commonwealth Investment Session

Led by visiting Head of Government

11:30 Networking break

12:00 Session 27: Sustainable Urbanisation: Building Smart Cities

Urbanisation is one of the great challenges and opportunities of our time. How do we ensure our rapidly expanding cities give decent places to live, move populations safely, provide jobs and foster innovation? How do the new cities we need protect and improve the environment for future generations?

12:00 Session 28: Commonwealth Investment Session

Led by visiting Head of Government

Session 29: Commonwealth Investment Session

Led by visiting Head of Government

13:00 Networking lunch

14:00 Closing session: A Challenge to the Commonwealth: Two years to a Sustainable World

HRH The Prince of Wales launched The Great Reset in 2020 and Terra Carta in January 2021 as an appeal to bring prosperity in harmony with nature. Rwanda, in its role as Chair-in-Office will be setting the Commonwealth’s biennial agenda during this historic juncture. How does the family of 54 Commonwealth nations, under Rwanda’s leadership, achieve a step-change in the renewal of the Commonwealth, towards collective prosperity, economic sustainability and societal resilience?

15.30 Invitation Only: Roundtable for Heads of Government and CEOs