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Beyond Traditional Gender Lens Investing: An Intersectional Approach

Posted By Melissa Benn, The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, Thursday, April 4, 2019
Updated: Thursday, April 4, 2019

By Melissa Benn, Senior Program Analyst, and Alexandra Solomon, Senior Research Analyst for Ethics and Human Rights 


Gender Lens Investing: “The deliberate integration of gender analysis into investment analysis and decision-making

Gender lens investing (GLI) is “an investing approach that deliberately incorporates a desire to make a difference in the lives of women and girls, while meeting the risk/return objectives appropriate for an institutional portfolio.” The Criterion Institute and Jackie VanderBrug, Managing Director of Global Wealth Management at Bank of America, developed a comprehensive gender lens investing framework, defining, disaggregating, and evaluating the ways in which various investments can benefit and empower women.

Overall, GLI can include, but is not limited to, investments along the following three pillars: (i) Increasing access to capital for women, (ii) workplace equity for women, (iii) products and services for women.

Source: Investor toolkit with a focus on girls and young women. SPRING Accelerator, October 2018. Page 14.

Intersectionality: The interconnected nature of social categorizations, such as race, class, gender, and sexuality, and how they overlap to create interdependent systems of disadvantage and discrimination

In development contexts, women are often considered to be a singular unified cohort that can be grouped together and served based solely on their gender. However, women are not a monolith. This overly simplistic classification interferes with the development community’s ability to serve the most vulnerable populations of women. Intersectionality broadens the concept of “women” and brings visibility to women with differential identities.

Because different groups have different needs, one must pay explicit attention to, and create, programs and solutions focused on different categorizations of women. Such solutions and programs may include, but are not limited to: race, ethnicity, income level, food security, income security, education level, location, financial literacy, access to information, land ownership and access, number of children and/or dependents in the household, disease burden, and marital status. Accounting for these factors would create a truly intersectional and impactful venture fund that does not overlook or exclude women with varying degrees of vulnerability.

How do we best address intersectionality to ensure the three above-mentioned pillars of GLI are inclusive?

 

Increasing access to capital for women

At the US Chamber of Commerce’s International Women’s Day Forum, Jamie Sears, Executive Director of Americas UBS Community Affairs & Corporate Responsibility, spoke about the “myth of meritocracy in the entrepreneur space” and how “discrimination is structural and persistent.” According to the World Bank, 70% of formal women-owned small- and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries are either excluded by financial institutions or are unable to access financial services that meet their needs, resulting in a $287 billion gender funding gap annually. As investors rethink their impact and more purposefully direct capital flows, they have the opportunity to work with development actors to promote not only economic change and empowerment, but also the ability to address the accompanying shifts in attitudes, policies, and practices required to result in sustainable system change.

 

Workplace equity for women: Promoting gender equity throughout the value chain

Understanding how value chains are embedded in the social context that defines differential roles, opportunities, and barriers to success is essential to maximize efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Gender-blind and need-blind investments risk exacerbating gender inequities, failing to identify opportunities for economic growth, and widening the looming gender funding gap and gender agricultural productivity gap, which stands at an estimated 30% in Malawi. A purposeful focus on gender and other intersectional dynamics sheds light on the otherwise invisible relative disadvantages that all kinds of women face and can inform investment strategies in new or improved value chains.

Similarly, many development actors focus on microfinance as the silver bullet to women’s economic empowerment. However, by focusing on microfinance within spheres already in women’s limited areas of control (ie, market vending, textiles, etc), it is easy to overlook the root causes of inequities and not address larger systems built on patriarchal norms – such as politics, health care, and education – that exploit women and perpetuate their lack of adequate representation.

Further up the value chain, we see a growing body of evidence has linked gender diversity to measures of better performance, including return on invested capital (ROIC), return on equity (ROE), and ROE volatility. While this evidence highlights ROI for women’s representation and the damaging nature of gender-blind investments, more research is needed to parse out the different identities of women, such as women of color, women of varying income levels, LGBT people, and women living in the Global South.

 

Products and services for women

Very few companies directly address the needs of women, let alone the needs of women in the Global South. Jackie VanderBrug draws attention to the need for products that address the challenges that women face and how innovation has been gender-blind in many ways to date. In agriculture, for example, technology is “necessarily filtered through the gendered patterns of agricultural labour, household enterprises, family food consumption decisions and social structures.”

According to the SPRING Accelerator Investor Toolkit, “girls and young women do not need to be the direct end users to be impacted by a business’s products and services.” Investors can focus on ecosystems and specific industries, such as EdTech, that benefit and accelerate the success of women.

 

Foundation for a Smoke-Free World’s Agricultural Transformation Initiative in Malawi

If the work of the Foundation and the work of the development community is to address the needs of the most marginalized peoples, we must strive to define inclusion beyond gender. While women continue to be underserved and underutilized along the value chain, we have the ability to think deeper and to address the many layered issues that the most marginalized women in the world face.

The Agricultural Transformation Initiative’s (ATI) Investment Support Facility (ISF) in Malawi is focused on integrating smallholders into investor-grade transactions. All transactions in the pipeline must include women in a substantial way, integrate significant numbers of smallholder farmers into their business models, and demonstrate meaningful income and productivity increases for smallholders. We seek to answer the question: What does it mean to truly and materially integrate and include all women?

If you have ideas for helping to ensure the ISF is an intersectional investment fund, please comment below! We are always looking for new ideas to ensure we support the most vulnerable communities in Malawi and are eager to have you be part of the conversation.

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Tags:  Africa  capacity development  entrepreneurship  impact investing  Malawi  Women  women's economic empowerment 

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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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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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Defining Financial Exclusion: why we need to focus on the problem, not just the solution

Posted By Lexi Doolittle, Small Scale Sustainable Infrastructure Development Fund, Thursday, July 19, 2018
Updated: Thursday, July 19, 2018

There’s a lot of discussion on financial inclusion, the value of the bringing an individual into the fold of the formal financial system, and the potential benefits of that inclusion. However, there is little discussion on what it actually means to be financially excluded and how, because of this exclusion, the lives of the working poor, their communities, and entire institutional systems are more insecure, costly, and constricted. 

This new article from S3IDF engages with the lived realities of financial exclusion with the intention of driving a movement where various stakeholders collectively create an intelligent foundation on which we can develop replicable pathways towards sustainable financial inclusion for more stable, affordable, fruitful livelihoods for the financially excluded, their families and their communities.

 

 

Tags:  Access to Finance  capacity development  Entrepreneurship  finance  India  Private sector development  Social entrepreneurship 

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GroFin - Transforming SGBs in Africa & the Middle East

Posted By Shailen Neewoor, GroFin, Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2018

Gain a deeper understanding of how GroFin, through its unique investment model in SGBs, is positively transforming small and growing businesses and the local communities they support. The inspiring success stories of its entrepreneurs exemplify the collaborative efforts of GroFin staff, investors, partners and clients. The 2017 GroFin Impact Report, Nomou Impact Report and Aspire Impact Report translates its faith in the power of the collective by asking the question “If not us, who? If not today, when? If not with our finance and support, how will these small businesses grow and succeed?”

2017 GroFin Impact Report

As at end 2017, GroFin has financed 675 small and growing businesses, supported 8,840 entrepreneurs, sustained a total of 86,190 jobs and touched the lives of 430,955 family members in the local communities across our 15 locations of operation in Africa and the Middle East. The report indicates that GroFin has made more investments in its priority sectors of education, healthcare, agribusiness, manufacturing and key services. Furthermore, GroFin invested US$ 60M in nearly 88 new small and growing businesses, with over 50% of the SMEs operating directly in our sectors of focus, sustaining 14,000 total jobs and supporting an additional 72,000 livelihoods. And to reinforce its value proposition of providing 'support beyond finance' the company introduced the GroFin STEP (Success through Effective Partnerships) Programme to support its SMEs and Entrepreneurs.

2017 Nomou Impact Report

The Nomou Programme is a regional initiative in MENA which was co-created by GroFin and Shell Foundation. As a result of the collaborative efforts of its investors, partners and clients, the Nomou programme is contributing to the alleviation of poverty and improvement of livelihoods in the communities where the programme operates, as well as striving to reduce the adverse impact of the humanitarian crisis in the region.

In 2017, the Nomou Programme supported 1,005 entrepreneurs, made investments into 103 SGBs, sustained a total of 10,287 jobs, touched the lives of 51,435 beneficiaries and added economic value of US$ 149 million per annum through its investee SMEs across Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Oman.

2017 Aspire Impact Report

Since their inception in 2014, the Aspire Small Business Fund (ASBF) and the Aspire Growth Fund (AGF) have sought to promote local entrepreneurship, employment and economic value-add in the Niger Delta. With the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) as anchor investor, the Aspire Enterprise Development Funds epitomise GroFin, a private development finance institution, and SPDC’s efforts to serve the local community with a combination of investment funds, business skills and market linkages.

In 2017 GroFin increased its commitment to supporting SMEs in the Niger Delta Region by investing in an additional 17 small and growing businesses and extending further funding of US$ 2.5M (140% increase from total amount invested as at end 2016). As at end of 2017, GroFin has supported 365 businesses, invested in 53 SMEs and sustained a total of 1,975 jobs under the Aspire Funds.

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Tags:  2017  A Access to Finance  Access to Finance  Africa  Agriculture  ANDE Africa  ANDE Members  Base of the Pyramid  Business  business training  capacity development  DGGF  East Africa  education  finance  impact  impact investing  impact investing; gender lens investing; gender; w  impact investment  impact measurement  innovation  Investors  Kenya  MENA  missing middle  Philanthropy; impact investing  Private sector development  Rwanda  SDGs  SGB  SGBs  SGBs; accelerators; East Africa  SGBs; Environment; accelerators; energy  SGBs; West Africa; Senegal; Africa; MENA; Entrepre  small and growing agrobusiness  smes  social impact  South Africa  sustainability  sustainable development  Tanzania  Training  Uganda  West Africa 

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Three Powerful Tools for Fintech Practitioners

Posted By Jane Del Ser, Bankable Frontier Associates, Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, January 17, 2018

By David del Ser

(Watch our video)

Since we launched the Catalyst Fund in 2015, we have helped 15 fintech entrepreneurs deploy novel approaches to bring products and services to their customers. We have distilled the successful patterns and behaviors we have observed into toolkits and posts for those considering fintech methods for their businesses, whether they be startups or established players.


At a high level, successful fintech startups adopt principles of Design, Risk Management and Product Management, and also put modern technologies like smartphones, artificial intelligence and cloud computing at the core of their value propositions. At successful fintech startups Designers, Product Managers, CEOs and Engineers reinforce each other in multidisciplinary teams to explore the overlap between what customers find desirable, what engineers can build, and what the business requires to grow.

Design

The function of Design is to represent the voice of the customer at all times to make sure a company stays centered on what matters most. Design is not a one-off process. In the spirit of customer validation, designers keep tight feedback loops with customers throughout the product development process, from early prototypes to usability testing of new features.


Through user research (UX) techniques like online surveys and one-one-one interviews, designers invest heavily during initial stages in order to know their customers like the back of their hand; what are their problems and pain points, and how can their company help? In fact, designers segment customers into personas to allow the team to constantly keep in mind different user profiles and needs.


Aesthetics matter. Designers work hard to perfect a product’s UI and its look and feel, so it can live up to the high expectations created by WhatsApp or Google. But great design goes beyond just user research and visuals during early product design stages. Successful inclusive fintech startups map out the Customer Journey and Service Blueprint in detail to fully understand the perspective of the user each time they  interact with the company.


Ultimately, great design creates trust, that elusive quality that all startups are chasing and that distinguishes them from their competitors. We’ve captured our lessons for startups to build trust with their customers through their products or services in our Design for Trust Toolkit.


Product Management

But designers can’t work in isolation; they need someone to lead the orchestra - and that’s where a product manager comes in. The PM takes a big picture view and works to ensure that designers, engineers and marketers all work towards the same goal. Crucially, she makes sure the product or service goal is backed by data and evidence. She keeps the whole process nimble through quick agile iterations focused on the activities of users, from initial onboarding to the retention phase. For example, using A/B Testing and usage analytics she captures details of how each users is interacting with every screen to inform engagement.


The effective product manager is very focused on the key metrics for the business, such as customer lifetime value or acquisition costs. She also works hard to explore the best channels to find new customers, including viral referrals and social media. As an example, our portfolio company Destacame has seen lead acquisition costs dropping to less than $3 through these types of digital channels. We explore some of the different tools and frameworks to help startups focus as they chart their journey from idea, to minimum viable product (MVP) and growth in our upcoming product/market fit toolkit.

Modern Technologies

And finally, you can’t have good fintech without the “tech” that is enabling these new approaches.


Most important are the smartphones, which run fintech apps and also act as channels to find and interact with users. For instance, several of our startups use WhatsApp to offer customer support and drive virality, communicating with users in the way they prefer. Smartphones can also be used to generate and capture user data, which is particularly valuable when targeting low-income consumers who traditionally have been anonymous. In that vein, our portfolio company Smile Identity validates and authenticates customer identities using selfies taken on their phones.


In addition machine learning and other artificial intelligence systems can improve customer value propositions and to automate internal processes like credit scoring using data from smartphones and other new sources like satellites. As an example, our portfolio company ToGarantido is exploring chatbots for sales of their insurance policies and customer support. Harvesting is using satellite data to understand credit and insurance risk with just a GPS read. Worldcover doesn’t even need customers to file a claim as their satellite systems award them automatically.


And software engineering helped Escala and Paygo Energy to automate most of their back-office processes to be responsive to their customers. It is easier and more affordable than ever for startups to leverage affordable SaaS solutions to architect their systems. Likewise, cloud computing is also a powerful technology that offers simplicity, lower costs and flexibility. There is no need to commit capital to purchase hardware and the team requires less engineering talent to keep the servers going.

Conclusion

In our experience, companies that harness the powerful combination of design, product management and modern technologies create better and more tailored value propositions. That makes for happier customers, which is what makes businesses thrive. By driving more usage, the fintech triad can create more impact in low-income populations. And digital channels and automated processes can significantly lower costs of serving customers, allowing for expansion to new markets and reducing exclusion.


Learn more by joining us for our webinar on the Catalyst Fund toolkits during the ANDE Sector Update call in January. Register here.


Tags:  Acceleration  accelerator  accelerators  Africa  ANDE Africa  Base of the Pyramid  brazil  Business Models  capacity development  early stage ecosystem  emerging markets  entrepreneurship  finance  financial inclusion  fintech  Grants Rockefeller  impact investing  impact investment  inclusive innovation  India  India; ANDE members  innovation  Kenya  Latin America  mentoring  Mexico  SGBs; accelerators; East Africa  smaholder farmers  smes  social enterprise  social entrepreneurship  social innovation  webinar  West Africa 

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ANDE Webinar Recap: U.S. Global Development Lab’s PACE Initiative

Posted By Lauren Farello, Aspen Institute, Wednesday, May 3, 2017

For those of you who were able to join us for USAID’s “Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship (PACE) Initiative” webinar, thank you! Our presenter, Rob Schneider, division chief of global partnerships at USAID, shared valuable information about how USAID is supporting entrepreneurship and impact investing through the PACE Initiative and how ANDE members can participate in the new call for concept papers.

 

To recap, USAID’s third call for the submission of Concept Papers through the PACE Initiative is focused on fostering entrepreneurship and catalyzing private investment into early-stage enterprises operating in developing countries. PACE is looking for partners that are testing blended finance solutions to address the “missing middle” in sustainable, replicable, and/or scalable ways. Concept papers must be submitted by July 31, 2017 at 12PM (noon) Eastern Time.

 

We hope you find the webinar and the following resources helpful:

If you’d like to watch the recorded webinar, the link is here. The link to the PPT slides can also be found here.

 

Please don't hesitate to reach out with comments about the webinar.

Tags:  capacity development  grants  missing middle  PACE  scale  SGBs 

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Research Meets Africa: the Call for Papers is open!

Posted By María Belén Zambrano, Appui au Développement Autonome, Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Call for Papers: Research Meets Africa

9th October 2017, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Research Meets Africa aims to promote research and innovation on inclusive finance in Africa. It encourages collaboration between researchers and practitioners of the sector by involving universities from Africa and around the world. The event will be held on the 9th of October 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia alongside African Microfinance Week.

 Researchers are invited to submit their research papers on this topic:

                        "What solutions respond to the growth needs of MSMEs in Africa?" 

For any question, please contact the Conference Team:rmateam@ada-microfinance.lu

Or visit our website: http://www.ada-microfinance.org/en/events/african-microfinance-week/research-meets-africa

 The submission deadline is 30th May 2017!

 

 Attached Files:

Tags:  access to finance  Africa  capacity development  conference  Microfinance  Research  SMEs 

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AXiiS is closing the gap with 6 billion (USD) in assets under management ready for SMEs to access finance Today!

Posted By FAST International, Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade, Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Updated: Thursday, April 13, 2017
https://youtu.be/I4QvUzUwkxQ

About AXiiS:

Unique in its industry, Access and eXchange impact investment for Sustainability (AXiiS), is populated with local Financial Advisors based on their grounded work in the field with agriculture and forestry SMEs in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, ensuring sustainable investment ready cases.

Selected SMEs are profiled based on criteria ensuring their investment-readiness, while collecting relevant data on investment in agriculture and forestry sectors. It showcases blind profiles of SMEs and Financial Service Providers to ensure security and to enhance the matchmaking process.

To join or find out more, visit: www.axiis.ca

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Tags:  A Access to Finance  apps4africa  asset finance  banking  capacity development  climate resilience  emerging markets  Environment  environmental impact  finance  Global. Development  India; ANDE members  Investors  Latin America  news  nicaragua  Performance Measurement  Rwanda  Scale  SDGs  SGBs; accelerators; East Africa  SGBs; Environment; accelerators; energy  smaholder farmers  small and growing agrobusiness  smallholder farmers  smes  social impact  supply chain  sustainability  sustainable development  Tanzania  Uganda 

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TA Finance for SGBs - a scarce good down the road?

Posted By Pedro Eikelenboom, PUM Netherlands senior experts, Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Some perspective...once upon a time...

Picture yourself at a roundtable session with the topic ‘financial   instruments to support private sector development – how can business and non-profit collaborate’.  Guest speakers include a representative from a development bank, a public enterprise development agency, a non-profit and an enterprise

It reads like one of the many 'powwows' on the topic, though the invitation to this event has long but expired - it took place in October 2005 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands….


The impact investment eco-system

Fast-tracking time to 2016, there’s a new world created around impact investing. It has grown into an enormous market place for innovative financial (and non-financial) products and instruments. Where investors and prospects meet up, advised by consultants, think tanks, investment networks and so forth.

Many type of impact investors have entered the market, from banks, pension funds, wealth managers, family foundations, governments, development finance institutions and NGO’s. Hereby gradually expanding their investment portfolio into high-risk sectors like agriculture, in challenging countries, and targeting enterprises with ticket-sizes between US$ 100k – 500k.

It’s a shift (change in strategy) by some investors, with many key players shifting their ‘grant funds’ to a ‘return on investment’ portfolio. Is the eco-system creating a scarce good out of grants (in most cases being technical assistance / knowledge sharing) directed to support capacity development within enterprises? 

The true price of grants

Impact investing cannot only be about moving investment capital to riskier endeavors. It’s a combination of capital investments and non-reimbursable investments (the so-called grants). And the latter being a crucial factor in supporting the public good impact through technical assistance or capacity building trajectories for the beneficiaries. Neither is it a combination of 90-10, where grants serve as a bit of technical assistance on the side.

Reaching the enterprises that have growth potential but limited access to finance, means taking risk (call it technical assistance, capacity-building, non-reimbursable grants, first loss, equity stake, if you like) through a structured deal proposal between the impact investor, (perhaps) a development bank, an NGO, a technical service provider and so forth.

Several studies have stated that there is sufficient capital in the world to invest in small and medium sized enterprises (the ‘missing-middle’), in volatile sectors and in frontier markets. So money is not the issue – though the non-reimbursable investments are unfortunately becoming a scarce good due to policy changes within the public and non-profit sector.

However, beyond the non-profit community, grants are often perceived as ‘little strings-attached subsidies’, which require no financial returns. Of course, non-financial impact (social, environment etc.) is sought, though it’s based on expectations (outputs, outcomes). If one fails to reach the objectives, basically there’s not much harm done, it is - in the end - a grant.

How can we change this mindset? Grants do have a ‘price-tag’, value or leverage when dealing with blended finance. I’m sure, many investment deals in frontier markets would and will not happen without some flow of subsidies structured in the deal. Surely not advocating that grants should have a ROI too – next to non-monetary impact (social, environmental) -, but we should not take for granted the indirect value or direct leverage a subsidy has in the impact investment space. What can grant providers request or negotiate more in return for their contribution? Elements such as securing a seat at the board table of an investee (steer company’s public good objectives), or commit private grant funding to the related capacity-building program of an investment.  

Transferring skills & knowledge to secure ROI

Potential investment prospects (enterprises) may have fragile balance sheets, weak governance or inefficient processes. For that reason they are often initially overlooked by investors. As the impact investment marketplace is moving towards the ‘high-hanging fruit enterprises’, the power of knowledge becomes even more visible. Short-term technical assistance (related to entrepreneurship development) can strengthen an enterprise, making it robust and subsequently ‘de-risk’ its profile to potential investors.

In the case for professional volunteer service organizations (i.e. PUM, IESC, ACDI/VOCA, SES etc.) – its transfer of knowledge is as crucial as the committed capital investment to enterprises. Next to that, these organizations have a wealth of data, network and track-record in advising enterprises around the globe.

In the access to finance space for entrepreneurs, professional volunteer service organizations can play a critical role in strengthening the business competences of enterprises.

The lack of available (and/or affordable) local network of skills and experiences, that can contribute to the range of challenges an entrepreneur faces, is the gap where professional volunteer service organizations can offer qualified, experienced volunteer professionals to donate their time in transferring knowledge with entrepreneurs around the world. 

A structured approach

A structured approach on enabling enterprises in frontier markets to grow is essential and contributes into embracing entrepreneurs beyond the ‘usual suspects’. Collaboration through acknowledging and applying each other’s strengths is the way forward in achieving a sustainable return and impact through investment. And not to forget the role of governments and multilateral institutions in continuing - or at least not further reducing - ODA funded enterprise development programs. Of course, few would disagree with this conclusion, though the eco-system unfortunately exhibits far too few cases to proof otherwise.

For more insights on the role and added value of professional volunteer service organizations like PUM can have in strengthening SBG's as to de-risking their profile to impact investors, download the enclosed (full) article. 

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Tags:  accelerators  Access to Finance  Business  capacity development  Capital Aggregation  early stage ecosystem  emerging markets  entrepreneurship  entrepreneurship ecosystems  impact investing  impact investment  inclusive business  Investors  partnership  Pioneering Capital  Private sector development  social business  social entrepreneurship  social impact 

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