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New learnings on “missing middle” investing in Africa

Posted By Andreas Zeller, Open Capital Advisors, Thursday, February 13, 2020

Open Capital recently completed a two-year partnership with USAID and seven impact investors called “Talent to de-Risk and Accelerate Investment” (TRAIN).

Our aim was to catalyze more investments into high-impact “missing middle” small & growing businesses (SGBs) in East and Southern Africa – businesses which often face particularly acute challenges in raising capital. 

Together with our partners we realized >$24M of transactions with an average size of $1M, including investments as small as $50K. We were excited to see this total far exceed TRAIN’s original objective to catalyze $5M and demonstrate the viability of this model to scale. We’re hoping to extend TRAIN’s impact far beyond our first $24M of investments.

For this reason, we are pleased to share our collected learning in the attached report, which we hope will benefit others as they catalyze investment for SGBs in Africa and around the world. Please reach out to our team at contact@opencapital.com if there are ways we can collaborate.

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Tags:  Access to Finance  Africa  early stage ecosystem  High-Growth Entrepreneurship  impact investing  inclusive business  innovation  missing middle  SGBs  SGBs; accelerators; East Africa  small and growing agrobusiness  smes  Social entrepreneurship  talent 

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Global Partnerships issues loan to Acceso El Salvador

Posted By Lauren Olsen, Acceso, Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, February 11, 2020

February 11, 2020

Global Partnerships and Acceso El Salvador announce new partnership to further improve the opportunities and incomes of Salvadoran smallholder farmers and fishers through expanding into high-value processing

SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR – Global Partnerships Social Investment Fund 6.0 issued a $750,000 USD loan to Acceso Oferta Local – Productos de El Salvador (“Acceso El Salvador”). Acceso El Salvador is the leading local agribusiness working with smallholder farmers and fishers to boost agricultural productivity, create job opportunities, and cement long-term market linkages. 

The business purchases more than 60 types of fruits, vegetables, fish, and seafood from producers and sells directly to the largest national supermarket chain Super Selectos, Subway, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, and other local restaurants. The loan will be used to support the business’ growth into high-value processing, including building a new fish and seafood processing center to enhance its processing capacity and long-term export potential, and expanding its supply of high-quality tilapia fingerlings provided to fishers.

As of 2014, the poverty rate in El Salvador’s rural areas, where approximately one third of the population lives, was 38 percent. Smallholder producers in rural areas have limited access to financing to invest in productive assets, like irrigation systems, and quality inputs, like seeds and fish food, to improve their yields and product quality. As a result, it is difficult for them to sell into secure, formal markets; they face multiple levels of intermediation to get their products into informal markets with little profits being returned to them. Meanwhile, buyers such as Super Selectos and Subway faced challenges sourcing local products that met their quality and traceability requirements and were forced to import significant volumes in the past.

Acceso El Salvador was built in 2014 to improve farmers’ and fishers’ incomes and lift them out of poverty through establishing long-term, quality markets for their products. Acceso El Salvador provides technical assistance to producers; purchases their products at fair prices; operates multiple collection centers for processing; and plans and manages all logistics routes for deliveries to its clients. With its market-driven approach, Acceso has helped Super Selectos and other customers significantly increase their local sourcing, boosting the local economy. The business has directly impacted more than 1,000 farmers and fishers and created long-term jobs for its local team of 100 people, many of whom are women who were previously unemployed.

Acceso El Salvador was established by Acceso, which builds social agribusinesses as a sustainable, for-profit approach to alleviating poverty. Acceso builds from scratch, invests start-up capital, manages, and scales agribusinesses that work with smallholder producers. In the last five years, Acceso built businesses in El Salvador, Colombia, and Haiti and is currently scaling them while exploring replication opportunities across Latin America and the Caribbean. Acceso El Salvador’s early investors were Frank Giustra and Fundación Carlos Slim who were interested in testing a pioneering social business model.

Global Partnerships, whose goal is to expand opportunity for people living in poverty through impact investing, will support Acceso El Salvador’s growth through this new loan. This loan is pivotal for the business to expand its innovative, end-to-end approach of providing services and delivering value to smallholder producers.

“Acceso El Salvador is playing a critical role in lifting farmers and fishers out of poverty and boosting local economic development by building local value chains tied to sustainable markets. Global Partnerships is proud to support Acceso El Salvador and help them grow their social and financial impact in local communities.” Mark Coffey, president and chief investment officer of Global Partnerships.

“We are excited to be partnering with Global Partnerships who shares our goal of improving incomes and transforming lives in low-income communities through high-impact, market-based models. Their support will allow us to continue delivering value to smallholder producers and we look forward to growing Acceso El Salvador and its impact together,” Frank Giustra, co-founder of Acceso.
 
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About Global Partnerships

Global Partnerships is an impact-first investor dedicated to expanding opportunity for people living in poverty. For 25 years Global Partnerships has managed funds that invest in sustainable solutions that help impoverished people increase their incomes and improve their lives, with core investments in livelihoods, education, health, energy, housing, and sanitation. Since inception Global Partnerships funds have deployed $399.7 million in impact investments to 142 social enterprise partners, bringing meaningful impact to over 16.8 million lives in 23 countries.

About Acceso El Salvador 

Acceso El Salvador works with smallholder farmers and fishers to source fruits, vegetables, fish, and seafood, and sell the products to national retailers and restaurants including Super Selectos, Subway, Wendy’s, and Pizza Hut. Acceso El Salvador provides technical assistance; purchases farmers’ products at fair prices; operates multiple warehouses for product storage and processing; and plans and manages all logistics routes for deliveries to its clients. Acceso El Salvador has worked with more than 1,000 farmers and fishers to date.

About Acceso 

Acceso, formerly known as the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, is a social business builder that brings entrepreneurial solutions to global poverty. Acceso builds from scratch, invests start-up capital, manages, and scales agribusinesses that work with smallholder farmers and fishers in Latin America and the Caribbean. Acceso improves the livelihoods of farmers and farming communities by improving agricultural productivity, creating job opportunities, and facilitating long-term market linkages. Acceso has impacted more than 15,000 farmers and farm workers directly, and more than 59,000 people including their families.

Tags:  Agribusiness  Latin America  Social enterprise 

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Investing Early: Our roadmap for transforming ideas into impact

Posted By Mitch Millar, Innovation Edge, Monday, February 10, 2020
Updated: Monday, February 10, 2020

At Innovation Edge (IE) we invest early.

This is doubly true. For one, we invest in ideas that aim to transform the early life experiences of children, particularly those living in poverty. Furthermore, we frequently invest very early in the lifecycle of an innovation, sometimes as early as ideation.

We find ourselves at the intersection of early childhood development (ECD), social innovation and, increasingly, impact investing.

In this context, we are trying to encourage social entrepreneurs to consider the early years as a viable market opportunity, shift the mindsets of traditional ECD non-profits when it comes to thinking about scale and sustainability, stimulate the development of innovative ideas and appeal to an expanded pool of funding (beyond grant funders). Working at this nascent intersection in South Africa, we know the importance of investing early.

That being said, investing early does not mean we don’t think about the long term. We only invest in ideas with the potential to scale sustainably with consistent social impact. Upfront considerations around scale, sustainability and impact are made when we screen incoming applications and as we continue to assess the viability of an investment as it progresses through our pipeline.

We invest in for-profit and not-for-profit ventures in the form of products, services, platforms or tools.

Our pathways to scale and sustainability include building profitable or revenue-generating businesses, achieving platform integration (e.g. is embedded in the national footprint of retailers), enhancing government systems and driving change through intelligent, impactful insights. 

With all of the above in mind, and through our 5 years of successes and failures, we developed our Venture Progression Map (VPM). This was done in consultation with Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child. Their insights from building their Frontiers of Innovation portfolio was invaluable. 

The VPM is a tool for taking ventures from ideation to scale. A key element of our approach is how we have disaggregated the lifecycle of a venture. 

We have 7 progression stages:

 

As ventures move from ideation to scale, we ask questions around 10 progression categories:

  1. Increments of evidence
  2. Demand
  3. Value proposition
  4. Scale quantified
  5. Governance, legal and compliance
  6. People (including aspects of leadership)
  7. Sustainable resourcing
  8. Internal systems, tools and processes
  9. Ecosystem readiness
  10. Marketing and communications

These categories stem from a combination of literature and experience. These categories are not always mutually exclusive; they often intersect, but distinguishing between them is helpful as they identify key aspects for consideration as we move towards scale. 

Lastly, the journey is displayed as linear, but in reality that is not always the case. Through learnings and insights, we may need to go back to a ‘completed’ stage or rethink our conclusions about a category. This would be necessary if testing leads to challenging a previous assumption or if we test different pathways to scale and have to rethink the implications for sustainability etc.

 

You can access the full VPM here, and below are 7 insights for very early stage investors/funders working to create sustainable, scalable impact.

 

Keep it lean and agile

At IE we adopt a lean, iterative approach to the development of ideas. We encourage continuous reflection on key assumptions and aim to get investees ‘out of the building’ as quickly as possible to test with stakeholders. You’ll notice phrases like ‘based on testing’ at every stage of the VPM. 

Users, customers, not beneficiaries

The ECD sector is dominated by non-government organizations (NGOs) and development discourse. This means a language of ‘beneficiaries’ or ‘recipients’. At IE we want investees to think about users and customers instead. This encourages thinking about demand, value proposition and the market. 

Theories of change and scale

As with many a map, you can reach a destination via different routes. Sometimes the planned route is not the one you take in the end, but having a planned route is an essential starting point for the journey. By the end of our feasibility stage, we would expect a theory of change (TOC) and a theory of scale (T2S) to guide what assumptions are tested. 

Vertical alignment is important

In the innovation space, the idea of ‘leapfrogging’ is attractive. What we may find is that sometimes a venture is in stage 1 or 2 of our VPM overall, but is in stage 4, 5 or even 6 in some categories like ecosystem readiness (e.g. the government wants your solution) or sustainable resourcing (e.g. there’s a funder/investor buying into what you’re selling) or increments of evidence (e.g. your idea works and brings about positive change). 

While exciting, a sustainable, scalable and impactful venture requires all the categories to be aligned. Further down the line that alignment is not always possible if it is not managed incrementally e.g. don’t get too far down the road with an idea that works, but that doesn’t have the team in place to manage it at scale or the demand from customers or users.

That being said, striking the balance between openness to transformational or radical innovation and adopting a more linear process for incremental innovation is necessary. Judgement is required as to when a stage or category in the VPM can be leaped over by a transformational innovation.

POC is not one step

Our VPM breaks the POC process into 3 stages. This helps us to manage our expectations of an investee more realistically. This 3-stage POC is also in line with a more agile development process that encourages testing a defined set of assumptions, learning, iterating and then testing another set. It also helps in identifying more accurately where the barriers are to success. 

Don’t try to count impact too early

While we would love to tally the numbers reached across our portfolio and frame that number as ‘impact’, we know that this is not meaningful. We are also cautious about conflating breadth and depth of impact. 

This is because we know the pitfalls of wanting to see impact too early, in the VPM (see increments of evidence), we only begin expecting impact metrics at the final POC stage.

Conceptualise a ‘win’ differently

We’d all like to back an ‘impact unicorn’. But, in order to be most catalytic, we know that we need to allow the potential unicorns out of our stables. Part of the VPM (see sustainable resourcing) is about anticipating where additional funding or follow-on funding can come from, and working with investees to access this. 

Being able to de-risk a venture for a future funder, feed into another investor’s pipeline or make a venture appealing to an impact investor is considered a win. 


As with the brain science of early childhood, we know the importance of laying the right foundations. We’ve learnt that success at scale for a venture requires these building blocks and that a solid foundation is only possible if all the blocks are in place.

As very early-stage investors, we also know that taking risks is part of our mandate and part of our value add to the ecosystem, so our VPM should not be used as a set of non-negotiables, but a tool for reflection.

For more information about Innovation Edge and why investing early matters take a look here, you can also access our diverse portfolio and share your innovative ideas with us. 

 

 

Tags:  Africa  ANDE Members  East Africa  entrepreneurship  impact investing  inclusive innovation  innovation  social  Social entrepreneurship  social impact 

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The Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership is now Acceso!

Posted By Alethia Kang, Acceso, Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Acceso, formerly the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, announces its transition into a new, independent entity to advance its work of lifting small producers out of poverty through market-driven social enterprise

Since its founding in 2007 as an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, Acceso, formerly known as the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP), has worked across the world to build social businesses, train youth and women, and oversee a variety of health and economic development programs, bringing entrepreneurial solutions to global poverty. Their social businesses have helped lift thousands of farmers, fishers, and women entrepreneurs, and their families, out of poverty, while generating revenue that makes their impact sustainable.

Acceso’s current focus remains building, managing, and scaling agribusinesses in Latin America and the Caribbean to sustainably lift farmers and fishers out of poverty, and identifying opportunities for future replication. Their portfolio comprises four agribusinesses Acceso Colombia, Alimentos, Acceso El Salvador, and Acceso Haiti. Some of Acceso’s key partners include Acumen and Grupo Éxito in Colombia, Super Selectos and Subway in El Salvador, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, CORE, and Partners in Health in Haiti.

Frank Giustra, the philanthropist and financier who co-founded Acceso with President Clinton and who has been the primary benefactor of Acceso since its inception, recently announced that he will be focusing the majority of his time on his philanthropic efforts and stepping back from his business interests. Given this, Acceso (“access” in Spanish) is being established as an independent entity. This is an exciting next step and a natural evolution for the organization.

“It has been a privilege to partner with President Clinton and the Clinton Foundation during the past 15 years, building programs that have demonstrably improved people’s lives around the world. His leadership, his friendship, and his commitment to improving the world have served as an inspiration. I have made the decision to focus on my philanthropic efforts going forward, and step back from my business interests. As such, I will take on full management of Acceso’s work in Latin America and the Caribbean and continue to drive forward the innovative ways we are working to lift producers out of poverty. I am proud of the impact we have had for over a decade, moved by President Clinton’s leadership, and excited to expand this work in the coming years,” noted Frank Giustra.

“I’m proud to have worked closely with Frank Giustra through CGEP to launch programs that have had a profound impact on the lives of people across three continents—connecting farmers and fishers to new markets, training women entrepreneurs, supporting life-changing health initiatives, and more. Throughout our long friendship and partnership, I’ve had the opportunity to see the passion, leadership, and vision of Frank’s philanthropic work up close.  Now that he has chosen to devote himself to these endeavors full-time, I believe CGEP’s programs will empower even more people and improve more lives in the years to come. I’m grateful for the support CGEP has received from others since we began our work in 2007, especially from Fundacion Carlos Slim. And I look forward to the good work ahead under Frank’s guidance,” shared President Clinton in a statement.

Among Acceso’s numerous accomplishments during the past 12 years:

  • Their current portfolio of agribusinesses has improved the lives of more than 15,000 farmers and farm workers, generating more than $42 million in farmer revenues to date, a number that continues to grow by more than $10 million annually as the businesses grow.
  • These agribusinesses have also facilitated the distribution of inputs, including seeds and fertilizers, valued at more than $2.4 million and planted more than 1.4 million seedlings to promote reforestation.
  • Through smallholder farmer crops purchased from Acceso’s agribusiness in Colombia and thanks to a generous donation from Frank Giustra, Acceso has supported the feeding of more than 4.3 million meals to 250,000 Venezuelan refugees in Colombia through local partners.
  • Acceso’s agribusiness in Haiti also supports the feeding of nutritious snacks and meals to more than 3,500 Haitian children daily.
  • In addition to its current portfolio, Acceso also built other agriculture, distribution, and training businesses that have since been spun off to partners or local management teams, including an inclusive distribution business in Colombia providing entrepreneurship and sales opportunities to low-income women and a coconut sugar business in Indonesia which trained and secured organic certification for more than 1,000 coconut sugar producers and constructed state-of-the-art processing facilities to connect them to international export markets. A
  • cceso’s last-mile distribution businesses trained more than 3,000 women on entrepreneurship, sales, and leadership, helping them generate $3.5 million in income for themselves, while bringing essential products to rural communities.
  • Through an agreement with the Peruvian Ministry of Health initiated in 2009, Acceso underwrote and coordinated the efforts of local medical partners to screen patients and perform over 50,000 cataract surgeries that restored vision (and productivity) to low-income citizens in rural Peru.
  • Acceso’s vocational training business in Colombia trained and prepared more than 4,000 youth for employment in high growth industries such as hospitality and logistics, through job skills training and apprenticeship placement programs.
  • With an innovative solution to bring small producers into formal supply chain and distribution networks, over the past few years, Acceso was engaged by leading companies including Pepsi, Unilever, Marriott, Walmart, and Club Med to conduct various feasibility studies and design pilot programs in multiple countries to expand sustainable sourcing or last-mile distribution opportunities for these corporate partners.

Tags:  Agriculture  Latin America  Social entrepreneurship 

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The MEDA Approach: Human Rights in Business

Posted By Nicole Heaney, Mennonite Economic Development Associates, Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2020

 

The MEDA Approach: Human Rights in Business

The international development industry’s understanding of human rights stems from a commitment to the fulfillment of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights; a seminal document for human rights policy and goal-setting. More recently, development actors have used the fundamentals as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to consider and express the dynamic relationship between duty-bears, right-holders and responsibility bearers. “Duty-bearer” accurately describes the status of any representative government in relation to its charge to represent and protect the needs of its people. “Rights-holder” describes the imperative for all communities to self-determine by way of informing the government and public of their rights and holding them accountable in peaceful demonstration. “Responsibility-bearer” describes the mandate for all organizations to provide products and services that strengthen the rights-holder-duty-bearer relationship and increases the livelihoods of rights-holders in sustainable ways.

It is through the lens of responsibility-bearer that a broader array of entities have been engaged in the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda and have aligned their operations towards the rights provisions set forward within. For example, Asian-Pacific and North American automakers are working on SDG 13 (Climate Action) obligations through measures, such as committing their manufacturing facilities to zero waste. Global Affairs Canada; the development agency of the Canadian government, supports SDG 5 (Gender Equality) by promoting its Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) as a core funding strategy for Canadian international development programming. The SDGs have also inspired the creation of ethical environmental, social and governance (ESG) enterprises to reimagine the focus of corporate entities. For instance, the Benefit Certification (B Corp) indicates that businesses have made a legal and reputational commitment to consider the impact of their operations on their workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment.

 

Case Study: MEDA’s Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA)

Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) is a Canadian-based international development organization that has operated for over 60 years and works towards inclusive and sustainable value chain growth. MEDA understands that while its core approach is economic development, its work touches on human rights themes as human rights not only protect peoples’ inalienable rights to sustainable livelihoods, equality, environment, and security; but also promote their right to economic and social self-determination.

Currently, MEDA has a formal Human Rights Statement of Commitment and is in the process of developing human rights-based approach (HRBA) strategies and tools that will soon be piloted in one of its projects in West Africa. MEDA intends for its human rights programming to be applied to a wide range of rights-holders; that is MEDA will not zero in on supporting a sub-group (e.g., children, refugees etc.).

MEDA aspires to assist rights-holders in claiming their rights through the lens of intersectionality. Intersectionality is a feminist theory and analytical lens coined by critical race scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989) that assesses the overlap of various social identities—such as race, gender, sexuality, and class—and identifies how cumulatively these factors contribute to the specific type of systemic oppression and discrimination experienced by an individual rights-holder. For example, women experience a wage gap in the U.S comparatively with men, but black women earn just USD $0.61 while white women earn $0.77 for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts.[1]

For many business leaders adopting an HRBA means accruing the added cost and complexity of doing business ethically – operating in industries, geographies, and with partners that adhere to internationally recognized standards. This pivot can be both daunting and operationally infeasible in the short-term as new people, processes and technology may have to be acquired and implemented to make this switch.  

MEDA believes that business leaders which are educated on human rights indicators will be better at navigating moral challenges and will be able to integrate human rights policies into their bottom line. Informed business leaders will be able to capitalize on human rights opportunities as a driver for long-term growth. Business leaders can tap into customers’ awareness of socioeconomic inequalities by adopting inclusive supply chain practices. For instance, a manufacturing firm can ensure that its products are constructed in such a manner that all members of its value chain (i.e. its suppliers, production line, distributors and retailers) earn a living wage and enjoy a high-quality of life.

Business leaders can also tap into the positive publicity related to their responsibility-bearer status by promoting inclusive hiring, training and promotional practices. Higher employee retention and satisfaction are likely to follow from businesses investing in the development of their staff. In addition, business leaders can embed human rights themes into their business relations. For example, an investment firm can stipulate that it can only sell its investees to strategic buyers which also have a high ESG awareness. This ensures that the legacy of an investors’ values and stewardship will be passed on.

By embracing an HRBA approach into its programming, MEDA hopes to reinforce notions of shared value and an inclusive economy for all.

This blog was initially posted on MEDA.org

Write to the authors:
Carolyn Burns, Manager, Partnerships & Innovation, cburns@meda.org
Calais Caswell, Senior Program Manager, Gender ccaswell@meda.org
Yasir Dildar, Associate Director, Monitoring &Impact Measurement, ydildar@meda.org
Steve Hogberg, Project Coordinator, Global Programs shogberg@meda.org 


[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/10/today-isnt-equal-pay-day-for-black-latina-or-native-american-women.html

Tags:  business  gender  human rights  SGBs 

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High-Impact Lending Where Others Can't

Posted By Luke Seidl, Kiva, Thursday, January 9, 2020
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2020

Kiva, a San Francisco-based global nonprofit, has quietly lent to social enterprises at their earliest stages, working in the most difficult environments.

 

The Missing Middle Challenge

There are amazing small businesses in emerging markets run by brilliant social entrepreneurs that cannot obtain the financing required to grow. Kiva Labs: Social Enterprises helps them bridge that gap and scale their impact. In just three years, Kiva Labs has made over 100 direct loans, totaling $5.7 million, to more than 80 social enterprises.

For example, meet Kwami Williams. Kwami is a Ghanaian national and a Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient who studied aerospace engineering at MIT and NASA before returning to Ghana as a social entrepreneur.

The social enterprise he co-founded, MoringaConnect, has a mission to improve lives through the moringa tree -- a drought-resistant, fast-growing crop known locally as ‘the miracle tree.’ Buying moringa from over 5,000 smallholder farmers in Ghana, the company provides technical training and inputs, and teaches farmers how to integrate moringa into their diets to combat rural malnutrition.

Thanks to the Kiva Labs loan we were able to co-finance and install West Africa's largest solar irrigation system and scale our business operations in order to supply moringa leaf powder to partner companies sold in Whole Foods and Kroger in the USA.” -- Kwami Williams, Co-Founder and CEO, MoringaConnect

 

MoringaConnect falls into what is called “the missing middle” category of small businesses that are too large for microfinance, but too small for traditional bank loans. Financial institutions reject them as too small and risky to underwrite, or require unaffordable interest rates or unreasonable collateral. Over 300 million small businesses are excluded from the financial system. And yet they are the primary driver of job creation in emerging markets.

 

While investment in emerging markets is increasing, the vast majority of these investments - roughly 97% - occurs in amounts greater than $10 million. More money is flowing toward social enterprises, but minimum deal sizes haven’t shifted downward. The seed stage that lies between grants and early stage investors is among the most difficult stages for small businesses to traverse.

How is Kiva Solving for The Missing Middle?

 

Kiva is a global nonprofit founded in 2005 with a mission to expand financial access to help underserved communities thrive. By raising impact-first capital, Kiva has facilitated more than $1.3 billion in loans from 2 million lenders. That capital has been lent to 3 million borrowers in over 90 countries. The majority of Kiva’s lending reaches borrowers through its network of more than 300 Field Partners, local organizations that distribute the funds. But through the Kiva Labs: Social Enterprises program, formerly known as Kiva Direct-to-Social Enterprise (DSE), Kiva has lent more than $5 million directly to early-stage social enterprises.

 

Kiva Labs provides short-term working capital loans to help social enterprises to escape the “missing middle” by enhancing productivity, removing bottlenecks to growth, and developing the track record they need to attract institutional funding. Kiva’s social enterprise loans are most often in amounts of $50,000, and are available up to $100,000 for repeat borrowers in good standing. Each year over 70,000 lenders contribute to Labs loans on Kiva.org.

 

Kiva Labs de-risks and prepares social enterprises for impact investors. Most often, Kiva Labs is the first significant funding these companies receive after grants or friends-and-family money. One requirement is the company must be financially excluded -- unable to qualify for a reasonably priced unsecured loan. We are on a journey with the entrepreneur -- providing a first loan to prove the business model and a second loan to grow commercially and graduate to larger impact funds, where they’ll achieve impact at scale. 


100 Social Enterprise Loans and Counting


To date Kiva Labs has made over 100 loans, totaling $5.7 million, to more than 80 social enterprises in over 30 countries. For every dollar lent, we’ve measured that social enterprises receive $5 in follow-on investments (i.e. additional money from other organizations). This amounts to nearly $26 million in follow-on funding. As a result of Labs lending, almost 7,000 jobs have been created.

 

With an intentional focus of empowering women and girls, 48 of the social enterprises, over half the portfolio, are women-owned or -led. These women-led businesses have a higher repayment rate than their male-led counterpart enterprises. One example is Shazia Khan, founder of EcoEnergy, a social enterprise that has distributed solar home lighting systems to over 170,000 rural Pakistanis on credit. For Shazia, the Kiva Labs loan allowed her business to survive.

 

“Without the Kiva Labs loan, I would not have been able to prove my business model. I don’t even know if we’d still be standing. The Kiva loan was critically important to prove that our customers are credit worthy.” - Shazia Khan, Founder and CEO, EcoEnergy

 

Photo Credit: EcoEnergy

  

Through Labs, Kiva has de-risked a wide range of companies working in energy access (Simusolar, SolarHome), agriculture (Cacao de Aroma, Mavuno Harvest) fintech (Farmerline, Nomanini), water & sanitation (Drinkwell, Jibu), health (LegWorks, Sevamob) artisans (Indosole, All Across Africa) and more.   


Lending Where No One Else Can Lend


What sets Kiva Labs apart? In short, Kiva does more deals supporting more social enterprises and at an earlier stage than most impact investors. Kiva  has averaged roughly 30 deals per year, whereas most lenders are able to do under 10 deals per year. How do we do this? Risk-tolerant capital from the thousands of lenders contributing as low as $25. This “crowd” allows Kiva to take risk other investors cannot, and therefore support three times the number of social enterprises. 


By providing loans under $100,000, Kiva is addressing a segment of the market other funders find too risky. Due to high costs associated with due diligence, most impact investors target investment sizes between $200,000 and $2 million to more mature social enterprises (often after de-risking by Kiva!).

 

Photo Credit: Drinkwell

 

Further, Kiva is able to leverage the power of the crowd for due diligence with Crowdvet.org, a platform for business professionals, retirees, academics, and graduate students to evaluate social enterprises. Crowdvet.org allows the wisdom of the crowd to form a consensus on social enterprises in our pipeline to better inform Kiva's investment decision-making and scale our underwriting capabilities efficiently and cheaply. If there aren’t enough deal-ready social enterprises for the impact investing field, we’re working on it.


What’s on the horizon?


Kiva Labs partners with technical assistance providers to couple catalytic capital with business management training and technical assistance, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation. One example is a pilot with the African Management Institute (AMI), in which we placed 10 social enterprises from Africa to participate in a 12-month program. The Grow Your Business program works with enterprises to identify key weaknesses in the business that deserve the most attention and improvement. Preliminary results show high engagement and early signs of significant learnings from C-suite participants. After six months, 50% report they are already seeing tangible impact on business performance. Over the next two years, we plan to expand our technical assistance partnerships and deepen our understanding of effective enterprise supports. 


Long term, our goal is to scale the Kiva Labs program with customized systems designed for social enterprise lending and through Crowdvet.org. To do this we’re raising external grants and introducing affordable crowdfunding platform fees to our borrowers. Along with the Mastercard Foundation, we are grateful for generous support from Vitol Foundation, BlackRock, Energy4Impact, Signify, and The Lemelson Foundation, which has enabled our impact thus far. We look forward to multiplying our reach, and invite you to join us! 


This blog was initially published on GenGlobal.org

 




Tags:  Access to Finance  Base of the Pyramid  Crowdfunding  gender lens investing  impact investing  Kiva  Mastercard Foundation  SDGs  SGB  Social entrepreneurship  social impact  Women 

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It’s time to professionalize the impact in impact investing. Here’s how.

Posted By Kusi Hornberger, Dalberg Global Development Advisors, Monday, December 16, 2019

The end of the 1960s saw a series of controversial and inconsistent applications of financial accounting principles, with a flurry of mergers and acquisitions in the United States and the rise of companies’ “opinion shopping” pitting accounting firms against each other. The result:  a crisis in how financial accounting was used and interpreted. This crisis was the impetus behind the 1972 Wheat Study on Establishment of Accounting Principles and led to the establishment of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) on July 1, 1973. 

Today we are seeing a similar crisis concerning a different type of accounting. This crisis relates to the lack of consistently applied professional standards for impact measurement and management within impact investing practice. Impact investing is booming, according to the most recent Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) annual report; the five-year trend from 2013 to 2018 showed a 32% increase in yearly capital invested that brought total impact investing assets under management to $US 502 billion. Also expanding are the diversity of investor types and of impact measurement and management approaches. For this reason, along with the need to be able to measure progress against the SDGs as well as increasing interest and entry of large traditional private equity firms into the space, improved, consistently applied professional standards for impact are needed.    

In response, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) developed its operating principles for impact management. The all too common refrain from the industry and among our clients, however, is that these principles and tools are “too high level” and “don’t provide enough guidance” on how to measure and report impact. This skepticism and uncertainty have led to inconsistent methodologies for impact management application in practice, a lack of widely respected measurability, and the inability to compare different impact investment vehicles from an impact perspective. While these points may bear some truth, we think these criticisms are mostly just excuses. The tools and resources needed to make the practice of impact management more professional already exist. Here is our six-step approach to putting impact investing principles into practice.

1.     Define strategic intent using impact theses

The most important and strategic decision any impact fund manager must make is how to define the impact thesis of its fund. Much like investment theses, an impact thesis integrates the complex threads of the impact theory of change into a single thoughtful narrative supported by evidence. The Impact Management Project (IMP) has invested a tremendous amount of time building a global consensus on how to define, measure and manage impact in practice along the value chain. The IMP has deconstructed impact into five dimensions: what, who, how much, contribution, and risk. We believe every impact investor should clearly define those five dimensions for its fund investments, and we recommend that the industry continue to adopt this framework as the standard for thesis definition.   

2.     Identify associated key performance metrics and targets

Once an impact thesis has been defined, it is imperative to identify and set quantitative targets for two or three associated key performance metrics (social impact should not be boiled down to a single metric).These metrics should be logically connected to the business activities of the potential portfolio companies, easily collected, and based on the strongest obtainable underlying evidence. The good news is that you don’t have to search far for these metrics. For many years, impact investors have used different impact measurement standards. Now, because of the fantastic job done by GIIN and its team, the IRIS+ System has sufficient momentum to be adopted as the industrywide standard for impact accounting. IRIS+ provides an industry-validated catalog of quantitative metrics (primarily output metrics) that can be used to account for the social and environmental performance of an individual investment as it pertains to an investor’s impact thesis. To complement these quantitative performance metrics users should also still carefully think through the impact objectives and targets which are harder to quantify such as strategic intent and use IRIS+ metrics together with those objectives to be more rigorous in thinking about trade-offs, transparency and impact performance.

3.     Develop an impact rating tool to classify expected impact and diligence investments

The critical next step is converting your impact thesis and key performance metrics into an impact monetization or rating tool to use in classifying and comparing expected investment opportunity impacts. These tools translate impact into a single common unit that allows users to identify impact related trade-offs across investments, increases transparency, and forces frank conversation about the assumptions used to estimate the impact of any single investment. We have had the opportunity to evaluate several impact monetization tools, including the IFC’s Anticipated Impact Measurement and Monitoring (AIMM), TPG Rise Fund’s Impact Multiple of Money (IMM), and the Global Innovation Fund’s Practical Impact. Investors can develop impact ratings for investment selection in line with their goals by following impact due diligence guidelines. Some notable investors, such as Actis and Partners Group, have already used this system, and more firms should follow their example. After careful review and evaluation of the pros and cons of each, we find that the best tool presently available are the IMP impact classes and believe that it should be adopted as the industry standard moving forward. The IMP impact classes are also compatible with other impact rating and monetization approaches making them the most flexible and usable to a wide variety of investor needs. 

4.     Drive impact performance improvement plans in portfolio companies post-investment

Once invested, it is important to support portfolio companies in achieving their intended impact. One way to do this is through an impact assessment framework, such as the B Impact Assessment (BIA), tool to ensure and maximize the companies’ intended impact while also driving superior financial returns. These assessment tools help to inform supply chain, labor standards, and management or governance areas of strength and potential risks. Where risks are associated, corrective actions can be taken to mitigate them while ensuring impact outcomes are achieved.  

5.     Design reporting framework to regularly track outcomes against targets

Once all the tools are in place, it is equally important to define the format and frequency of your reporting on the outcomes achieved against your investment targets. We suggest that the outcome metrics and targets be integrated with the already established financial and operational metrics and that reporting for all occur at the cadence set for the financial and operational indicators. Integrated metrics can help organizations better align their core business activities and resource decisions to build more efficient and impactful investment decisions. The industry standard should be to update and integrate impact, financial, and operational metrics quarterly, with annual impact reports produced alongside or within financial performance statements. Integrated tools using Salesforce already exist and show how this could work in practice. This is the current practice for ESG investing, and it should be replicated by all impact fund managers. 

6.     Use an impact compliance audit to verify principles are applied consistently

The last critical step in basing practice on common industry standards is developing a framework that helps ensure the integrity of investors’ impact investment activities under the IFC’s impact investing operating principles. The framework must be applied by one of a pool of certified independent auditors, which will verify that the investor is holding true to the principles in practice. This process would resemble how financial audit firms today certify that financial statements comply with the common standard. We like the approach developed by Tideline, which assesses the compliance, quality, and depth of each component of the principles or the UNDP impact assurance tool which enables better market comparison and provides a scorecard. Moving forward, these approaches should be used voluntarily or adapted by all serious impact investors adhering to a common standard.

In closing, we would like to highlight these six steps as being essential to professionalizing impact measurement and management in practice. All fund managers are tempted to think they know best and can create superior systems tailored to their own needs and imaginations. While we support the urge to innovate, research shows that impact investing would benefit if more investors independent of asset class, legal structure, or geography adopted the standardized steps and tools discussed here. We have worked with a wide range of clients to achieve their desired results by doing just that. Reach out if you are interested in learning more.  

Kusi Hornberger is an Associate Partner in Dalberg Advisors Washington, DC office and co-leads its Finance & Investment Practice; and, CJ Fonzi is Partner in Dalberg Advisors Kigali, Rwanda Office and leads the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Practice.   

Tags:  impact evaluation  impact investing  Performance Measurement  social impact 

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Open Invitation to 501 (C)(3) Orgs to Exchange on a Partnership with UNCDF

Posted By Heewoong Kim, United Nations Capital Development Fund, Monday, November 11, 2019

 

Objective:

UNCDF is launching a consultation process on a partnership with well-established and like-minded impact 501 (c)(3) organizations to collaborate on joint innovative approaches and instruments for mobilizing private financing for sustainable development, primarily in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). UNCDF intends to use this initial consultation process to have an open exchange on the nature of the partnership, business model, legal requirements, types of approaches and processes. Such a partnership would complement the technical assistance and financing activities conducted by UNCDF to unlock finance for LDC transformation.

Timeframe and process of participation:

Depending on the number of interested parties interested in the proposed partnership, the consultation process shall normally be for no less than two weeks. The suggested participation process is as follows:

  1. All interested parties by November 15, 2019, shall submit a short profile of their organization by e-mail, at consultation501c3@uncdf.org, declaring their interest to participate in this process.
  2. Additionally, it is preferred that a brief note with the interested organization’s initial views on the proposed partnership is also submitted.
  3. UNCDF will contact the interested parties to arrange a bilateral exchange with the UNCDF senior management. All consultations will be held by teleconference or videoconference.
  4. If deemed necessary and time permits, additional meetings with interested parties may be held.

Throughout the process, UNCDF will cooperate fully to provide any relevant information and/or available material that will help interested parties to better assess this opportunity and confirm their interest.

All information provided by interested parties to UNCDF will be treated as confidential.

For any further information or inquiries regarding the consultation process, and preliminary technical inquiries regarding the investment vehicle proposal, interested parties may contact Mr. Xavier Michon, Deputy Executive Secretary (e-mail: xavier.michon @uncdf.org) and Mr. Heewoong Kim, Results Management Specialist (e-mail: heewoong.kim@uncdf.org).

Link to original call: https://www.uncdf.org/article/5061/open-invitation-to-interested-501-c3-organizations-to-exchange-on-a-partnership-with-the-united-nations-capital-development-fund-uncdf 

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Tags:  Access to Finance  ANDE Members  impact investing  impact investment  innovation  Philanthropy  SDGs  social impact  UNCDF 

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Join TrustLaw for our annual Social Enterprise and Impact Investing

Posted By Shiura Rasheed, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, November 19, 2019

WE STILL HAVE A FEW TICKETS LEFT FOR OUR ANNUAL TRAINING ON SOCIAL ENTERPRISE AND IMPACT INVESTING on December 2nd and 3rd, 2019 in New York City.

Social enterprises are entitled to a reduced rate. Please contact shiura.rasheed@thomsonreuters.com for further information. 

This course will explore key legal issues and trends in the social innovation space and provide lawyers and other professionals with the skills they need to advise different stakeholders in the sector. It is a first-of-its-kind course to combine hands-on legal training with practical case studies and excellent networking opportunities.

Upon completion of the training, participants should be able to:

  • Understand the shape of the social economy in the U.S. and how the U.S. has positioned itself as a leading player in this space globally.
  • Advise on the appropriate business structure for different social enterprises and on different mechanisms to lock social mission into business activities.
  • Recognize the key legal issues facing social entrepreneurs to help ensure agreements and commercial documentation reflect the financial and social realities of this rapidly growing sector.
  • Have a clear understanding of innovative tools and mechanisms used to inject capital into socially focused businesses, including social impact bonds, crowdfunding and impact investment funds.
  • Design and structure investment transactions using innovative impact terms and approaches to align investors with varying financial return and impact objectives.

Participants will become part of a community of practice that facilitates the sharing of lessons learned and best practices in the realm of social entrepreneurship and impact investing. Additionally, upon completion of the course, attendees may be given the opportunity to participate in related pro bono projects through TrustLaw, enabling them to apply the skills and knowledge gained to real-life matters.

Tags:  impact investing  law  lawyers  pro bono  social enterprise  Thomson Reuters Foundation  TrustLaw 

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Investing in small and growing businesses is key to reducing post-harvest loss and making nutritious foods more accessible

Posted By Teale Yalch, GAIN, Friday, October 11, 2019

The rationale for a nutrition focused organization like GAIN to become a member of an entrepreneurship support network like ANDE might not be immediately obvious, but the fact is that SMEs are estimated to deliver around 70% of the food consumed in low income countries and if we are going to succeed in improving diets and tackling malnutrition, we must do more to support the growth of small businesses, who are key to ensuring that nutritious, safe food is more available and affordable for local populations. 

One key area of action to ensure greater availability of nutritious, safe food is to reduce post-harvest loss.  According to the Rockefeller Foundation, small farmers and retailers currently lose 45% of their vegetable harvests, 35% of their fruit harvests, and 25% of their incomes due to post harvest losses each year.

Small businesses have a key role to play here.  Take for example, Coolins FoodBank, located in Orlu in South East Nigeria. Coolins Foodbank is a food logistics and processing business owned and operated by Collins Edwards and his wife Oluchi. Last year, with support from GAIN, Coolins Foodbank adopted a solar powered cold storage facility that they have placed within a local market. Local farmers and market retailers pay a fee to store their fresh produce in the cold room.  One of Coolin’s customers, Love Maduka, who sells fresh fruits and vegetables to customers in the local market, no longer loses the estimated 50% of her tomatoes through spoilage and the subsequent revenue because of the access to cold storage that Coolins Foodbank provides. 

Through its work supporting the growth of nutritious food SMEs, and more specifically businesses like Coolins Foodbank through its Postharvest Loss Alliance for Nutrition (PLAN), GAIN has identified many examples of innovative small companies producing and distributing nutritious food with real potential to grow. 

However, they are all too often stopped in their tracks because they cannot attract the financing they need to grow as they are perceived to be too small or too risky by traditional sources of lending like banks.  In the post-harvest loss context, this means they are not able to procure improved post-harvest technologies like refrigerated trucks and processing equipment needed to reduce loss of perishable nutritious food.

The Business and Sustainable Development Commission, in a study of the market potential of food-related SDGs, estimated that reducing food loss and waste could be worth an estimated $155 – $405 billion a year by 2030.  Although donors and investors are starting to wake up to the opportunities, the options for impact minded investors interested in investing in nutrition and improving food systems are currently limited.

I attended the ANDE Network Annual Conference a couple weeks ago in Virginia and was surrounded by like minded organizations that were supporting SMEs or as ANDE calls them, Small and Growing Businesses (SBGs) with a range of technical and financial assistance. There were also a variety of impact investors like Alphamundi and development investors like the Overseas Private Investment Corporations (OPIC) that are including gender, jobs and environmental sustainability in their investment criteria, but nutrition indicators were no where to be found.

To help fill this gap, GAIN will be introducing a Nutritious Food Financing Fund at the end of the year, which will offer a unique platform to direct investments into nutritious food SMEs, including those involved in processing, distribution and storage of nutritious food.  Our goal is to demonstrate their potential to achieve both a financial return and greater nutrition impact and to highlight important criteria for investors interested in investing with a food system lens. Every company considered for inclusion in the fund will have their nutrition potential vetted by GAIN and companies that are good candidates for reducing food loss will be prioritized.

Of course, we need to remember that finance is only one constraint that small businesses face.  There is little point in enabling access to finance if they still have to contend with burdensome policy environments, poorly functioning infrastructure and lack of management capacity, skills or support networks.   Greater collaboration between sectors to address these challenges collectively remains crucial to overall success.

Investing in the growth of small companies like Coolins FoodBank is one of the most sustainable and scalable ways to make nutritious foods more directly available and improve diets, especially among the poor. It is also an opportunity to invest in a new generation of innovative, well-managed and competitively positioned SMEs that are transforming food value chains and selling safe, nutritious food to communities most vulnerable to malnutrition.

Tags:  Acceleration  accelerators  Access to Finance  Africa  Agriculture  Business Models  capacity development  East Africa  emerging markets  entrepreneurship  impact investing  impact investment  innovation  Investors  missing middle  small and growing agrobusiness  supply chain  sustainability 

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