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Working with investors to develop proactive talent strategies

Posted By Rebecca Harrison, African Management Initiative, Thursday, March 21, 2019

Working with investors to develop proactive talent strategies 

Human capital is a key challenge for many SGBs. Getting and keeping the right team in place is critical to propel ventures to scale – yet founding teams often struggle to find the right fit. Many investors in African companies have tolAMI they want to focus more post-investment support on developing talent within their investee companies. But they often aren’t sure how to develop a talent strategy that cuts across their investment portfolio.

AMI hosted a roundtable discussion in Nairobi last month for around 30 early and growth stage investors into East Africa interested in adopting more proactive talent strategies for their portfolio companies. We shared 3 models we’ve seen used to provide post-investment human capital support, and hosted a candid discussion around what is and isn’t working.

AMI identified the following three broad buckets for ways to engage around talent at a portfolio company level. We heard from various investors, who shared how they are using different approaches to help their investee companies build out the teams they need to scale.

Three models:

Facilitative model   This could also be described as the ‘matchmaking’ model. The facilitative model is used when investors help companies understand their talent needs, identify and introduce them to quality providers, and then show them how to engage. The investor’s role here is primarily diagnostic and facilitative, and aims to support needs that are specific to each founding teams/organisation. Some investors are using TA funds to finance these interventions.

Examples: For AHL Ventures, talent is one of the main post-investment challenges that companies across their portfolio face. They often work with their companies on creating a talent plan or helping them directly acquire talent. They also refer investee companies to talent providers, where appropriate, using experience on what has worked with other portfolio companies to inform recommendations. For example, AMI has worked with AHL to train employees in several of their investee companies, including MKOPAPowerGenEthioChicken and Equity for Tanzania.

A different approach within the facilitative model was shared by CDC Groupwhich is developing an online directory for investee companies providing information on different human capital services available, including services specific to talent development – training, recruiting etc. CDC aims to make this directory available more broadly with the goal of also building the broader ecosystem (see supply-side model below).

Direct model The direct model differs from the facilitative model, as it works to identify a very clear need across the investor’s portfolio, instead of working on a case-by-case basis. This model is focused on solving a specific challenge, for example developing middle managers, hiring CFOs or working on enterprise sales. The goal is to offer a structured programme or intervention that cuts across the entire portfolio. This approach is becoming increasingly popular as investors deepen their understanding around critical talent challenges, and is often funded by a blend of investor/TA subsidy and direct payment by the company.

Examples: Acumen identified a need across its portfolio to strengthen middle management skills and build leadership bench strength below the executive team. They first partnered with AMI 3 years ago to develop cross-portfolio programmes for both middle and senior managers and now run at least one programme annually. Interestingly, Acumen started by subsidising the programmes significantly, but has gradually phased this out. Companies now pay directly, and many have worked this into their annual planning and budgeting processes.

Shell Foundation took a similarly direct approach, offering AMI management programmes to companies across its portfolio on a cost share basis, after identifying management skills as a cross-cutting need. In this case, Shell Foundation allowed companies to engage AMI on their own terms, but provided the cost-share to make this possible. More than 100 have continued to work with AMI on a fully commercial basis, demonstrating that investors can often play a catalytic role in demonstrating the value of human capital services to companies.

Finally, Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P) hosts a pan-African entrepreneurship club for its portfolio companies, where portfolio companies are invited to exchange ideas and debate on various issues including recruitment and retention. I&P also hosts seminars on specific topics of interest to entrepreneurs.

Supply-side support A small and growing group of investors are working to strengthen the ecosystem of human capital providers itself, either through grants and investments into supply-side players, or through experimentation with innovative sector-building models.

Examples: Shell Foundation is working with Argidius Foundation and Bluehaven to develop a Talent Facility to encourage and enable early-stage enterprises to invest in talent even when cash is constrained. Bluehaven, AHL and I&P have all invested directly into human capital providers such as AMI and Shortlist. And both Bluehaven and Argidius Foundation have provided grants to build the talent ecosystem more broadly.

Top learnings from investors:

Each of the 30 investors in attendance have several years of experience working in the impact investment sector in East Africa and globally, and shared openly about what they’ve learned around human capital. Here are a few high-level learnings

    • Investors can and should influence, and even incentivise, founding teams to focus on talent. Investors noted that founders themselves needed to be bought into human capital as a strategic priority. Investors can make their expectations clear in this regard, both before investment during diue diligence and after investment, at a board level.
    • Human capital is a core strategic priority not a ‘nice to have’ – is it on the agenda at board meetings? Many companies and investors agree that talent is important, but then spend their board meetings talking about fund-raising and sales targets. Investors who sit on boards can push talent issues up the agenda by asking the right questions around talent strategy.
    • Proactive talent strategy is more effective than reactive crisis management: Investors have seen talent challenges emerge when companies grow very quickly. Investors can encourage companies to get the right human capital systems and structures in place ahead of (or at least at the beginning) of a period of aggressive growth, and can share lessons learned from other portfolio companies.
    • Investors have seen key needs cut across portfolio companies. Some key themes emerged from the discussion – for the example the need to develop middle management, the shortage of strong CFO candidates and challenges with enterprise sales. However investors working at different stages of the investment cycle noted that different approaches are required for early-stage businesses versus more mature companies. Investors can benefit from sharing notes with others investing at a similar stage.
    • Due diligence should include a structured focus on management capacity & learning mindset. Many investors are being more intentional and structured about probing the management capacity of founding teams and their broader leadership. Some noted the importance of ensuring that entrepreneurs themselves have a learning mindset, and so are likely to build a learning culture across the organisation.
    • Start with simple interventions that work – A quick and easy way to start leveraging your experience as an investor to drive talent development is to introduce functional heads from within your own portfolio to each other. For example, introducing the head of marketing from two of your investee companies to each other is extremely beneficial for growth, learning and innovation.

We’d love to hear from any investors who have tried approaches not listed here. What’s worked for you? What are you still trying to figure out? Can we help?

AMI delivers a practical and scalable approach to workplace learning using a blended methodology that combines online courses with in-person workshops and practical hands-on application. AMI has rolled out 70 programmes across 13 African countries and directly trained over 26,000 people, including hundreds working at investor-backed growth companies. In 2019, AMI was named one of the Companies to Inspire Africa by the London Stock Exchange Group.

Tags:  Africa  capacity development  east africa  emerging markets  Human Capital  impact investing  impact investment  investors  smes  social enterprise  social impact  talent  Training & Events 

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Pact Ventures Launches Revamped Impact Investment Group

Posted By Katie Hallaran, Pact, Monday, December 10, 2018

Pact is excited to announce the launch of its revamped social investment team – Pact Ventures. Pact Ventures believes that markets and private capital can be incentivized to accelerate Pact’s development programs. We structure innovative financing and market-based mechanisms to magnify Pact’s social impact.

Through technical experience in investment banking, private equity, strategy, and social entrepreneurship, we’re integrating private sector perspectives to create tri-sector solutions for complex development challenges by leveraging public, private, and social capital.

Leading with a clean sheet approach, Pact Ventures accesses a wide spectrum of innovative financial and investment vehicles to finance our projects, deliberately matching outcomes risk with financial return. We leverage our impact investments to shift our relationship from donor-beneficiary to provider-customer. In so doing, we tap into economic forces to create market mechanisms that listen and adapt to the voices of our beneficiaries (now customers) in new, empowering ways through:

Outcomes-based and shared value partnerships:

  • Market-based incentives for responsible and traceable sourcing of minerals and gems
  • Access to bottom of the pyramid (BoP) financial products for community-based savings and loans groups

Direct investments in promising social enterprises:

  • Investment in solar home system manufacturer targeting BoP consumers
  • Joint venture with alternative BoP credit scoring and digital distribution services

Innovative business and delivery models for impact:

  • Distribution of solar home system partners to bring renewable energy to Pact’s beneficiaries
  • Workforce development platform for skills-based training and job placement 

We’d love to explore opportunities to collaborate and invite anyone interested in learning more to reach out to Brian Vo at bvo@pactworld.org.

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Tags:  Access to Finance  energy  health  impact investing  innovative finance  social enterprise  social impact 

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The “Missing Middle” is More Complicated

Posted By Heather Soehn, Upaya Social Ventures, Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, November 27, 2018

 

In our industry of impact investing, there has long been a lament that small and growing businesses (SGBs) are the “missing middle” of the space—these are the companies that are too large for microfinance funding and too small for traditional investors or even most impact investors. The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs defines this space as companies seeking to raise between $20,000 and $2M US with between five and 250 employees.

The conversation has been going on for years, first defined with great clarity in the Monitor and Acumen Fund study, “From Blueprint to Scale” in 2012.  Upaya’s Sachi Shenoy picked up the issue of a “pioneering capital gap with Brian Arbogast in 2013 and then revisited it with our board member, Nathan Byrd, earlier this year. A common theme of all this investigation is that while the potential for impact can be huge in this space, investing here requires patience, capacity building and a lot of risk.

Upaya invests exactly in the “missing middle” and for years we have felt—If not completely alone—pretty lonely.  We invest to create jobs for the extreme poor, which gives us a very particular approach to enterprise selection. While there has been much discussion, there have not been dramatic shifts to address the gaps. Players are entering the space but there is still a $930 billion financing gap. What is going on?

“This Missing Middles,” a report commissioned by the newly-created Collaborative for Frontier Finance dissects this segment with much greater granularity than ever before. It has not been helpful to talk about a financing gap for these kinds of companies because “these” kinds of companies are quite diverse.  The report helpfully breaks them down into four groupings:

  • High Growth – Disruptive business models that could be tech-led, asset-light, growing at 66% in the CFF study.
  • Niche – Innovative products or services targeting niche markets
  • Dynamic Enterprises – “Bread and butter” businesses (trading, manufacturing, etc.) that have moderate growth and scale potential but significant livelihood impact
  • Livelihood Sustaining – Sustainable businesses that may have outgrown microenterprise and are supporting families with incremental growth

This report resonates with us so well because conversations with other seed stage or early stage impact investors sometimes remind us that “one of these things is not like the other.”

Upaya looks for companies that can be sustainable job-producers that return our investment, preferably with some upside. It’s not that we lack the ambition or focus of other early investors who are looking for “rocket ships” or “massive scale.” It’s that we know our market. The “Dynamic Enterprise” group is a very good description of many of the companies that we see and want to help reach 1,000+ sustainable jobs.

In what might be a surprise, the high growth ventures are generally on a trajectory to create fewer jobs due to their business model. So we wish them well, along with our colleagues who invest in them, but they’re less interesting to us unless there’s strong job creation. (As an aside, these are also the kinds of businesses that directly refute Mulago Foundation’s Kevin Starr’s post in the Stanford Social Innovation Review from August. The only key to poverty alleviation is not making sure that the companies that provide goods and services to the poor can scale; starting with a reliable job and income is a more direct assault on poverty, even if it comes in 1000-person increments.)

What this study does so well is explain why the “missing middle” has felt stuck for so long. It’s not that there’s not enough interest in funding these companies. It’s that we need to be more creative in our approach. There is no one financing solution for these different kinds of enterprises. So many impact-driven organizations, including Upaya, are making fairly straight-forward equity investments. In fact, the typical venture style equity investment doesn’t fit well with any of these groups. Even the high growth ventures, which account for only 1% of the segment, are likely to need longer time horizons than closed-ended funds provide.

Upaya had already started exploring what investment alternatives are available to us as a foreign investor in India, but this report gives us renewed energy. It also underscores that what we do really matters. There are not enough impact investors focusing on the “bread and butter” businesses that are the “backbone of local economies and are important sources of jobs for low- and moderate-skilled workers.”  Hopefully, with a better understanding of the environment we’re working in, investors can all be more successful in achieving our impact goals by better serving the entrepreneurs in our portfolios.

 

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This piece was written by Kate Cochran, CEO of Upaya Social Ventures and was originally posted on the Upaya Social Ventures blog.

Tags:  impact investing  Job Creation  missing middle  Pioneering Capital  Social entrepreneurship  social impact 

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The Future of Fresh: Rethinking Our Food Systems at The First Mile of Distribution

Posted By Paula Rodriguez, InspiraFarms, Monday, November 12, 2018
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2018

To all ANDE members, this is a formal invitation to join InspiraFarms side event, The Future of Fresh: Rethinking Our Food Systems at The First Mile of Distribution, the 20th of November, 2018, 6pm. 

We will follow the Financial Times Global Food Systems event with food, drinks and a vivid discussion around challenges and solutions for first-mile distribution, emerging market agribusiness competitiveness and sustainability, and their access to export markets in the UK and beyond.

InspiraFarms CEO, Tim Chambers, will open the event, and welcome our key note speaker Dan Haglund, Senior Private Sector Development Adviser, at the Department for International Development (DFID) who will talk about ‘The role of the private sector in transforming the global food industry into a more sustainable and inclusive system.’

We will present the international joint research project, in partnership with the private sector, DFID and the Shell Foundation, analysing solutions to post-harvest food losses and sharing insights from ongoing field trials.

Julie Hanson, European Director of the Global Cold Chain Alliance, ‘The cold chain industry’s response to the first mile distribution challenge.’

The event will conclude with the debut of a new mini-documentary, ‘The Future of Fresh - rethinking our food systems at the first mile of distribution’.

Join us!!

To register send us an email to inspira@gongcommunications.com 

http://www.inspirafarms.com/the-future-of-fresh-side-event/

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Tags:  agribusiness  Agriculture  impact investing 

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Need Help Identifying Your Organization’s Legal Needs? Find Out About TrustLaw’s Legal Health Check for Social Enterprises.

Posted By Flavie Fuentes, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Friday, October 19, 2018
Updated: Friday, October 19, 2018

Who we are? TrustLaw is the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s global pro bono legal program, connecting the best law firms and corporate legal teams around the world with high-impact NGOs and social enterprises working to create social and environmental change. We help produce groundbreaking legal research and offer innovative training courses worldwide. We also provide a legal training for social enterprises and impact investing that focuses on legal issues and trends in the burgeoning social innovation sector, and provides lawyers with the skills and knowledge they need to advise clients. We have supported grassroots organizations to employ their first staff members, helped vulnerable women access loans to start their first businesses and brought renewable energy lighting to slums. We are the largest global pro bono network with almost 5,000 members across more than 175 countries. We work with hundreds of legal teams representing over 120,000 lawyers who generously provide free legal support to thousands of NGOs and social enterprises.

What is the Legal Health Check and How Does it Work? Every year, TrustLaw receives and reviews hundreds of legal questions from our NGO and social enterprise members around the world and connects these organizations to pro bono lawyers who provide free expert advice and assistance. Drawing on our experience, TrustLaw has developed a Legal Health Check to assist NGOS and social enterprises identify some of their operational legal needs. While it includes the questions most frequently asked by our members, it is not a complete list of legal issues. The Legal Health Check will help you identify legal matters that are relevant to your organization and issues that you might need help with. Take a look at the Legal Health Check for more information here.

Interested in Becoming a Member of TrustLaw? If you would like to apply to become a member of TrustLaw, you can complete our application form on our website at http://www.trust.org/trustlaw/ and make sure to tell us that you are also an ANDE member!

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Tags:  Access to Finance  ANDE Members  ANDE publication  Impact investing  Legal Working Group  Pro Bono  social enterprise  Social entrepreneurship  social impact 

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Survey: Gender-lens Investing in LAC

Posted By Daniela Moctezuma, Value for Women, Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Are you an investor or organization supporting SGBs actively in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)? Please take 15 minutes to fill out the Value for Women survey on Gender-lens Investing in LAC, financed by the ANDE Catalyst Fund that seeks to provide investors, SGBs, and other ANDE members with a clear landscape of how impact investors use and see gender in their work. The survey will also serve as a way to identify best practices so please fill out and share your work with us!


Please fill out the Spanish language survey here before 11:59pm (Mexico City, Central Standard Time) on November 5th.


In case the link above does not work please click here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/V4WANDE

 
 If you have any questions, please write to Luis Márquez (lmarquez@v4w.org) with a copy to Daniela Moctezuma (dmoctezuma@v4w.org).

Thank you!

Tags:  ANDE Members  entrepreneurship ecosystems  impact investing  impact investment  Latin America  social entrepreneurship  social impact 

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SEAF Launches Gender Equality Scorecard ©

Posted By Robert Webster, Small Enterprise Assistance Funds (SEAF), Monday, August 27, 2018

SEAF Launches Gender Equality Scorecard ©

 

Washington, D.C. (August 27, 2018)

 

SEAF, the emerging market impact investing firm, has announced the launch of its proprietary Gender Equality Scorecard (“GES”), which will be a vital tool to support the promotion and achievement of women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in SEAF’s global investments.  The GES is initially being piloted in SEAF’s investments in Southeast Asia and it is expected to be used eventually across SEAF’s world-wide, impact investing platform.

                               

Jennifer Buckley, SEAF Senior Managing Director, stated, “SEAF’s Gender Equality Scorecard is launched with the conviction that those firms that realize internal gender equality in terms of compensation, leadership and other factors are superior financial performers and powerful drivers of women’s economic empowerment.  In this way, SEAF sees enormous potential in using the GES to create shared value for women, investors and entrepreneurs.”

 

SEAF’s Gender Equality Scorecard will assess potential and existing SEAF investees on gender equality, scoring across six key gender equality vectors:  pay equity, leadership and governance, workforce participation, benefits and professional development, workplace environment, and women-powered value chains.  These assessments will identify opportunities to improve gender equality and hence guide SEAF’s critical post-investment value creation work.

 

The Scorecard was born out of SEAF’s current gender lens investing initiative, the SEAF Women’s Opportunity Fund.  This Fund was launched in partnership with the Investing in Women (“IW”) initiative of the Australian government and focuses on women-led/owned businesses in Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.  The Criterion Institute, the gender lens investing think tank and an IW partner, has played a critical role in GES’ development.

 

“SEAF’s Gender Equality Scorecard represents an exciting and innovative development to advance gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in the impact investing space,” explained Joy Anderson, President and Founder, Criterion Institute. “We are delighted to partner with SEAF and look forward to the GES’ continued development and influence.”

 

Bob Webster, SEAF Managing Director, said, “The Gender Equality Scorecard is the next key step in our gender lens investing journey and we look forward to working with our partners, including future stakeholders such as asset managers and academic institutions, in assessing its validity and improving it over time.  After its pilot use in the SEAF Women’s Opportunity Fund, its use will be expanded to SEAF’s next generation of gender lens investing initiatives, which are currently under development.”

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Tags:  creating shared value  emerging market  financial inclusion  gender equality  impact investing  impact investment  inclusive business  innovation  womenCreating Shared Value  women's economic empowerment 

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FINCA International Launches FINCA Ventures, an Early-Stage Impact Investor

Posted By Michael Leen, FINCA International, Wednesday, August 22, 2018

ANDE Member and global microfinance pioneer FINCA International has announced the launch of FINCA Ventures, an impact investing platform that provides patient capital and pre- and post-investment support to help early-stage social enterprises achieve growth and scale.

FINCA Ventures aims to accelerate the growth of social enterprises developing goods that align with FINCA’s charitable mission, thus fostering a market for affordable, high-quality and life-improving products and services for low-income families.

Over the past 18 months, FINCA Ventures has invested in six social enterprises serving emerging market customers, including Amped Innovation, BioLite, Eneza Education, Good Nature Agro, Ignitia and Sanivation. The investment profile for FINCA Ventures spans energy, WASH, education, health, agriculture and fintech, with a geographic focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

For more information, visit www.FINCAVentures.com

or contact Ami.Dalal@FINCA.org and Alex.Evangelides@FINCA.org

 

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Tags:  ANDE Members  BOP  impact investing  social enterprise 

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Need help on an impact investing question? Work with Duke MBA students this year

Posted By Carrie Gonnella, The Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke, Thursday, July 19, 2018
Updated: Thursday, July 19, 2018

The CASE i3 Consulting Practicum (CASE i3CP) offers your organization the opportunity to engage with a team of carefully selected MBA students from Duke University on an impact investing question you are currently addressing.  You benefit from the passion, fresh perspective, independence, and technical expertise our students bring to the CASE i3CP.  Our students benefit from the opportunity to apply their academic learning to an of-the-moment issue in the impact investing space.

How it works:  We select 5 to 7 impact investing-related projects annually and match each client with a select team of Duke University Fuqua School of Business MBA students.  Teams spend on average 400 person-hours researching, analyzing, and making actionable recommendations that they incorporate into client deliverables.  Teams work remotely with you and are directly supervised by Cathy Clark, Duke faculty member and Director of CASE i3.

Previous clients and projects:  We're proud to have a 100% client satisfaction rate over the last 3 years.  Some of our 30+ previous clients include Calvert Impact Capital, World Economic Forum, Investors' Circle, SJF Ventures, Mercy Corps, Big Path Capital, and more.  You can read a Q&A with one of last year's clients, Quantified Ventures, here.  Some of our past projects have related to investment landscaping, impact assessment, product formation, and deal and industry diligence.

Final student deliverables remain confidential to the client, but a few of our clients have already gone public with the work our students did for them.  You can find a blog post by SJF Ventures here and from Investors' Circle's PCC fund here.

We're thrilled with the responses we've received from clients:  

  • “The CASE i3 Team was a dream to work with.  They were curious, diligent, and rigorous in their research and analysis – always ensuring that the work would be helpful and relevant to our organization in the long run.” – Calvert Impact Capital
  •  “We benefited greatly from the CASE i3 team’s diverse skill set and self-directed approach in analyzing opportunities for expansion.”  – Mercy Corps Social Venture Fund

How to apply:  Applications are open until August 31, 2018 to work with our MBA students over the 2018-2019 academic year.  To find more information on the work timeline and the online application, click here.  Email Carrie Gonnella at carrie.gonnella@duke.edu with any questions.

Tags:  Access to Finance  capacity development  education  finance  impact investing  impact investment  MBA  mentoring 

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Impact Investing: Where are the Women?

Posted By Reuben Coulter, Transformational Business Network, Thursday, June 21, 2018

Only 7% of applicants were female - that's crazy!!

Over the past month I've been advertising for an Investment Director to lead our impact investing portfolio. To date, we've received 52 applications and only 4 of those were women - that's 7%. Where are all the female investors?

The opportunity

This is a major problem for impact investing which seeks to create economic and social transformation. Investors who are predominantly male will have an inherent bias and so may fail to engage with this enormous opportunity. Research in the US showed that male venture capitalists were much more likely to invest in male founders and it's unlikely to be any different in the impact space.

The opportunity is enormous. Consider the following:

  • Credit gap: Women SME’s worldwide face a $320 billion shortfall in access to credit despite women anecdotally having lower non-performing loan rates than men.
  • A multi-trillion dollar opportunity: According to a McKinsey study, closing the gender labor gap could add $28 trillion, or 26 percent, to annual global GDP in 2025.
  • The world’s largest emerging market: The female economy represents a market more than ­twice the size of India and China combined. By 2028, female consumers will control around $15 trillion of global consumer spending.
  • Our portfolio of purpose-driven entrepreneurs in Africa is currently 54% womenand we have found them more willing to work collaboratively to tackle social issues.

One piece of good news to emerge from the G7 (which you may have missed with all the Trump furore), is that their Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) have proposed a bold commitment to the 2X Challenge: Financing for Women to mobilise investment in the world’s women.

How can we address this issue?

For this commitment and impact investment in general to succeed we must nurture more female investors. I'd love your suggestions on how we can do this and who is already pioneering. Please include in the comments section below.

NB: We're Hiring!

If you know a fantastic female Investment Director then please let her know about our vacancy at TBN. Closing date 27th June.

 

Tags:  impact investing  Women 

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