Charles Karangwa – The Emerging Conservation Finance Leader

The fear of the future for the conservation industry post-COVID-19 is probably spreading to the majority of conservationists across the globe. However, that has not been the case for most of our community members. Our emerging conservation leader, Charles Karangwa, who graduated from our Conservation MBA program class of 2020, chats with us on how he is planning to finance environmental development and climate-action focused ventures in Africa through the capstone project he initiated while he was in the MBA program.
Now, you can read more about how our emerging conservation leaders are championing change in their community and why.

Charles Karangwa works for the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN, heading the Regional Forests and Landscapes Programme for IUCN Eastern and Southern Africa Region (Covering 24 countries) and Rwanda Country Representative. He is based between Kigali and Nairobi due to his dual function.


Why wildlife conservation?-

I started my career from community health, then economic development, conservation and then humanitarian but through all that I did, I always ended up talking about nature and biodiversity!


How would you describe your life before the Conservation MBA program?

At some point, I needed to pause and reflect on where and what I want to do with my career. I could see myself running and working hard, being promoted to higher positions but there was still that gap which could only be discovered by yourself and the way you do business. I think I was lucky to do an MBA with ALUSB on a Conservation scholarship; it helped me flip the script and read the continent and the globe differently. It changed the way I interpreted my environment and conservation in particular.


Why did you pursue an MBA?

I think the MBA is one of the most organized degrees one can ever wish to have. After I had done several courses, especially professional courses/degrees, I needed to turn the page, prepare myself for a changing business environment, develop my abilities and equip myself with tools to adapt to the unavoidable change of industries, the marketplace, and the ways people do business. I also wanted to harness my leadership and people management skills.


Your life as a Conservation MBA Student, what is that key moment that will always resonate with you to date?

Realizing that the power of Network is a game-changer in both my career and personal life. This MBA helped to make sense of this quote ‘ if you want to go fast, go alone if you want to go far go with others’ I have discovered with ALUSB/SOW that people network can take you where you would never be.


What was your capstone project for Conservation MBA and how do you see the project in the future?

My project focused on understanding bottlenecks and how to unlock climate, and environment finance. I have already, together with my co-founders registered a private fund management company FinScape- that focuses on climate and environment project development, linking project with or resourcing financing, climate funds management advisory and related services. FinScape turns ideas into bankable projects and connects with financiers. FinScape also provides technology-based climate investments impact monitoring– We focus on both Terrestrial Landscapes and Seascapes.


What does life as an MBA graduate look like?

I am avoiding going back to the normal routine! I have a lot to focus on now and in a better and informed way than before, more importantly, building a team that carries and shares the same vision with me. Conservation needs a shift in innovating sustainable finance; I am exploring some ideas already.

There is a growing awareness about the role of Mother Nature in sustainable development; however, Africa will continuously face a competition between conservation and development investments. Leaders need to continue to position conservation at the heart of African economic development and investments.


Any advice to future conservation leaders

conservation leaders will need to speak a language that business leaders globally can understand and relate with. That is why a conservation-focused MBA is key for future conservation leaders. Understanding the business of conservation, investments, doing business in Africa and bringing that knowledge together will make a huge difference for the future of conservation and Africa’s wildlife economy.

As we close off, tell the audience one of the most interesting facts about you: I have once directed a marriage of one of my friends after his pastor refused to celebrate his marriage at the last minute. I felt very bad and remembered that I am also Christian and have the same capacity to celebrate that marriage. Interesting!

Also, Here is a short career journey for Charles Conservation Vocation.

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