The Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF)

The Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF)

The CBF has grown into a major international event, which draws 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.

It provides facilities that enable direct business linkages and investment promotion activities. The forum is structured around plenary sessions and interactive workshops over three days, and also provides opportunities for one-to-one business meetings.

The CBF is traditionally held on the three days preceding the Official Opening of CHOGM, to maximise the participation of and benefit to visiting Heads of Government and their delegations. It is addressed by Heads of Government, senior ministers and business leaders from around the Commonwealth and beyond.

The CBF is organised by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) in partnership with the government of the host country, through the CHOGM Taskforce and a CBF sub-committee in which CWEIC is involved. Rwanda expects between 1,000 to 1,500 delegates and government attendees at the 2020 CBF in Kigali.

Programme TBC.


KIGALI, RWANDA | 22 – 25 June 2020

Venue: Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village


08:00-09:30  Registration

09:30-10:30  Opening Session

Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating and Transforming

10:30-11:00 Networking Break

11:00-12:30 Session 1: The global economic outlook: Trade, growth and the Commonwealth

Where is the global economy heading? How can the Commonwealth lead the world in catalysing growth and championing free and fair trade?

12:30-14:00  Lunch

14:00-16:00 Session 2: The infrastructure deficit as a barrier to easy cross-border trade

Cross border trade is still obstructed by insufficient infrastructure. How can we tackle this challenge? What are Commonwealth examples of cross-border cooperation and how is it funded?

Session 3: SheTrades Commonwealth: Encouraging women entrepreneurs

The SheTrades Commonwealth programme aims to boost economic growth and job creation by increasing the participation of women-owned businesses in international trade: how do we encourage this?

Session 4: The role of international financial centres across the Commonwealth

How do international financial centres best support financial inclusion and the development of the real economy? Can Commonwealth IFCs work together to create growth?

16:00-16:30  Networking Break

16:30-18:00  Session 5: Small and medium businesses: Commonwealth growth

What can we do to encourage SMEs to trade and invest confidently across the Commonwealth? What are the obstacles and challenges?

Session 6: Agile States: How small and island states can make size an  advantage

Thirty-one of the Commonwealth’s members are small states. What are the success stories, what has worked and what can be shared across the Commonwealth as small states seek to attract business and investment?

Session 7: Tackling the grey economy: Formalising the informal

The Grey Economy is an enduring challenge for many Commonwealth Countries, limiting investment and embedding corruption. Advances in technology make shifting from the informal to the formal easier than ever.


09:00-10:30  Session 8: Commonwealth Insurance Forum

De-risking and insuring against loss are key elements of global business, especially in emerging economies.  How can the Commonwealth help strengthen the insurance industry and ensure access to insurance products?

Session 9: Creating social impact through high-value tourism

Tourism is vital to many Commonwealth economies. How do we balance the need for increased visitors with the impact on the environment, while ensuring that the benefits are felt by all members of society?

Session 10: Social intelligence, big data, disruptive innovation and the challenge for regulators

How can Commonwealth businesses and regulators stay ahead and benefit from this era of rapid technological innovation?

10:30-11:00  Networking Break

11:00-12:30  Session 11: Fintech and innovation in financial services

What will the future of financial services look like? Will technology and businesses give emerging economies the opportunity to leapfrog?

Session 12: Food security and agribusiness

Many Commonwealth countries rely on agriculture as a major employer and economic pillar. How can we make food production more efficient, sustainable, and reliable?

Session 13: Value-added manufacturing

Primary manufacturing does not benefit the exporting country or local community enough. How do Commonwealth countries ensure that goods are processed, transformed and packaged before being shipped?

12:30-14:00  Lunch

14:00-15:30 Session 14: The digital economy: New jobs and new opportunities

How can we ensure that the digital economy be harnessed to guarantee sustainable growth and job creation across the Commonwealth?

Session 15: Blue and green finance for sustainable development

What are the financial and environmental advantages of investing in our oceans and environment?

Session 16: Commonwealth Standards Network

This session will focus on the future of the Commonwealth Standards Network launched at CHOGM 2018 in London. This session will be developed in partnership with the UK’s BIS, with the support of DFID, and look at the next two years of the programme.

15:30-16:00  Networking Break

16:00-Session 17: Attracting FDI: A Commonwealth challenge

Capital is free to pick and choose its destinations. What do Commonwealth countries need to do to ensure they are at the front of the queue?

Session 18: The cyber threat to business

Cyber crime ignores borders. How can Commonwealth governments cooperate to support businesses to protect themselves and their customers?


09:00-10:30: Session 19: The future of work: Skilling tomorrow’s economy

What should we be preparing our young people for? Are our academic institutions producing the talent the economy needs, and how can technology help create an inclusive employment environment?

Session 20: Commonwealth Extractives Forum (Part 1)

First of two special sessions on how Commonwealth countries can derive more from their natural resources.

10:30-11:00  Networking Break

11:00 -12:30  Session 21: The Commonwealth and the African Continental Free Trade Area

Is the AfCFTA a new model for regional cooperation and integration? What challenges remain for its full implementation?

Session 22: Commonwealth Extractives Forum (Part 2)

Second of two special sessions on how Commonwealth countries can derive more from their natural resources.

12:30-13:30  Lunch

13:30 -15:00  Sustainable urbanisation: Investment, job creation, and innovation

Urbanisation is one of the great challenges and opportunities of our time. How do we ensure our rapidly expanding cities are creating the right kind of jobs for future generations?

15:00-15:30  Closing Session

15:30  Heads of Government and Business Roundtable (by invitation only)