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Acumen fund investment committee meeting

He lives in the San Francisco bay area with his wife and two daughters. Michael C. Dorsey worked as an investment banker, primarily to technology companies, for 20 years. In this capacity, he worked with most leading venture capital firms as an agent and made venture capital investments as a principal. Sasha Dichter, Co-Founder, 60 Decibels. Sasha is the Co-Founder of 60 Decibels, an impact measurement company that helps organizations around the world better understand their customers, suppliers, and beneficiaries.

Its proprietary approach, Lean Data SM , makes it easy to listen to the people who matter most, bringing customer-centricity, speed and responsiveness to impact measurement. Over the course of five years, she helped to build the ESG platform to encompass a range of asset classes and focus areas. In , Ms. Previously, Ms. Hartman worked at Coca-Cola in the public affairs department, where she managed a range of social and environmental issues in North America and Europe.

Hartman holds a B. Hartman is involved in a number of philanthropic activities. GSF harnesses the power and discipline of the capital markets to enhance environmental sustainability, advance economic opportunity and promote community development. Lawrence University. As part of the leadership team, Tricia is responsible for building disruptive collaborations and helping the foundation transform the way businesses, government and nonprofits work together to tackle global challenges.

Tricia has worked across the business and social sectors, bringing them together to develop lasting solutions to global challenges. Previously, Tricia spent six years in the Middle East and Africa with the National Democratic Institute, where she developed and directed its first revenue-generating social enterprise.

Christina supervises the BlueMark team and has directly led over 20 verification assignments across an array of investor types and asset classes. Morgan where she worked for over 15 years, leading a ratings business and several risk management groups, including for the credit portfolio and emerging markets trading businesses.

She also created an innovative methodology for measuring and managing country risk and advised numerous sovereign governments on their public credit ratings. In , Christina created and launched J. During her time at J. Morgan, Christina grew the Social Finance team to eight full-time employees and also managed an internal volunteer corps of more than 2, engaged employees. Michael most recently served as a Special Advisor to Babylon Health, building the market entry strategy for the AI-enabled digital health platform in sub-Saharan Africa.

Previously, Michael led the Social Ventures team at Mercy Corps, building one of the first and most active impact investment funds in the international development sector. The Social Venture Fund invests across the fintech, agriculture, logistics, and employment sectors in east Africa, Indonesia, and Colombia. Michael also served as a strategic consultant to a solar energy provider targeting off-grid health facilities globally. Prior to Arc, Michael consulted to the social venture capital fund, Acumen Fund, mapping private sector investments across east Africa.

Michael was a founding staff member of the first nonprofit pharmaceutical company, the Institute for OneWorld Health, whose goal is clinical development and distribution of affordable new medicines for diseases of poverty in the developing world. Tom has two decades of experience integrating and applying business and market-based solutions to social sector challenges.

While his primary role is to build and manage investment portfolios, he also dedicates time to investment sourcing and diligence, producing research, and engagement with the larger community of impact investors. Previously, Tom was an analyst with Agora Partnerships, an impact venture group in Latin America, and began his financial career consulting to the World Bank on education projects in Brazil. Tom began his career in technology marketing, which helped him understand the immense power and rapid feedback loops inherent in dynamic business models.

Liesel Pritzker Simmons is Co-Founder and Principal of Blue Haven Initiative, where she oversees, as an investment strategist, a portfolio focused on holdings that generate competitive financial returns and address social and environmental challenges. The portfolio spans asset classes, from traditional equities and direct investments to philanthropic programs. In addition to working closely with entrepreneurs, nonprofits and co-investors on companies and initiatives that create social, environmental and financial value, Liesel develops strategic partnerships with organizations that support and advance more informed investing.

Liesel co-founded Blue Haven with her husband, Ian Simmons. Together, they systematically assessed their portfolios based on environmental, social and corporate governance ESG criteria and financial performance. The restructured portfolios became the foundation of Blue Haven, one of the first family offices created with impact investing as its focus. There, she helped create the IDP Rising Schools Program, which leverages microfinance networks to empower nearly low-cost private schools—established and managed by local entrepreneurs—in some of the least-developed regions of the world.

Liesel, an engaging and sought-after speaker on impact investing and Next-Gen investors, serves on for-profit and nonprofit boards and investment committees of organizations including ImpactAssets, Synergos, Toniic, Eco-Post, and The ImPact, a network of families committed to the conscientious stewardship of wealth. She lives in the Boston area with Ian and their daughters. Ommeed Sathe is a Vice President and head of the Impact Investment unit in the Office of Corporate Social Responsibility at Prudential, where he oversees all underwriting, origination, pipeline development and portfolio management activities for the group.

Before joining Prudential in June , Mr. Sathe was director of real estate development for the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority NORA , a quasi-public entity that alleviates blight, redevelops residential and commercial properties and implements crucial public projects in New Orleans. Sathe has an undergraduate degree in neuroscience and urban planning from Columbia University; a Masters degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and a J. He has had the privilege of working with many innovative companies that do life changing work in the fields of microfinance, affordable health care, renewable energy, affordable education, women empowerment and agriculture.

He is a much sought after speaker on the topics of impact investing and entrepreneurship. As its first employee, Jason helped build the firm and its first and second products, investing in global listed equities and climate change solutions respectively. Previously, Jason helped found and build Public Allies, a youth and community development organization.

He co-founded Cleantech for Obama and served on several transition advisory boards for the Obama Administration and is currently on the boards of Oil Change International, the Frankfurt Zoological Society and Public Allies. Jason graduated from Duke University cum laude and has an M. Fran Seegull is the Executive Director of the U. Impact Investing Alliance which is being incubated at the Ford Foundation. The Alliance works to increase awareness of impact investing in the United States, foster deployment of and demand for impact capital across asset classes globally, and partner with stakeholders, including government, to build the impact investing ecosystem.

She tweets on impact investing at franseegull. Laurie J. The firm delivers integrated capacity and capital solutions to financial institutions, business support organizations, private-sector companies, funders, and investors. She has developed a particular expertise in structuring and launching impact investment vehicles that align different types of capital to allow operating enterprises, financial institutions, and funds to generate positive social, environmental, and development outcomes while delivering appropriate financial returns.

Among her active board engagements, she serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs. Laurie is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Eric Stephenson, Director, Align Impact. He was previously part of the fund investments team at Hamilton Lane and started his finance career with the global leasing group at Xerox.

Jackie VanderBrug is a managing director and investment strategist at U. In this role, she is responsible for defining and executing investment strategies focusing on U. Trust Impact Investing initiatives across all asset classes. What I didn't then understand was that many board members are experienced climate negotiators, for whom night time debating is normal!

Board governance and decision making has at times also been hard to understand. Decisions have been made by the full board for the most part, even on relatively minor operational issues. This has meant that discussions are protracted and often it has been impossible to reach a conclusion, so that important policy issues are delayed from meeting to meeting.

There has been enormous reluctance to delegate to the GCF Secretariat or to allocate decisions to those experts most capable to make them, such as a credit or investment committee, which would be the case in a typical financial institution. Perhaps the most challenging element of GCF governance has been the traditional requirement for all board decisions to be agreed by consensus.

In the business context, rules of procedure which allow one board member to block a decision against the wishes of the overwhelming majority would be viewed as unfeasible. At the GCF, this rule has caused significant delay and frustration, leading to uncertainty for project partners, unfavourable media coverage and serious concerns about the oversight of the institution.

To be fair, in the face of enormous pressure from potential contributors to the fund, this year the GCF board has managed to agree an alternative decision making process in the absence of consensus. At the most recent board meeting, a new voting process was tested for the first time, whereby members were able to approve a controversial project submission with two votes against and one abstention.

Looking away from the theatrics that sometimes occur at board meetings - which are always, unfortunately, distracting - the Green Climate Fund has been steadily evolving and maturing into a substantial institution, which is making a significant contribution to accelerating the flow of climate finance to developing countries. The GCF does not put capital directly into transactions, but works with "accredited entities", or partners which have been approved to receive funding from the GCF which they will onlend or invest in other institutions or projects.

Nearly a hundred organisations are now accredited by the GCF, ranging from large multilaterals to local banks in a number of emerging markets. This is far in advance of the other climate funds operating today.

The fund can also claim some success with encouraging private sector participation in its activities. These vary enormously in scope and size, including solar power in Nigeria, energy efficiency in Mongolia, a green mini grid programme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and multiple renewable energy projects in Khazakstan. Moreover, GCF support has even catalysed private sector investment in adaptation - typically much more challenging than mobilising capital for mitigation projects.

One such example is a programme of sustainable landscape measures to enhance the resilience of smallholders in Madagascar, where the fund's involvement stimulated additional private debt and equity capital to fund the activity. As I step down from my position as Active Private Sector Observer, I would sum up the Green Climate Fund over the last four years as having been somewhat ambivalent towards the business community at times. The fund has serious aspirations to expand its activities with the private sector, reach out further to new commercial partners and aggressively leverage private capital into its projects.

All of this is very welcome. However, there have been challenges in implementation. The GCF Secretariat and the board have struggled to complete the framework underpinning funding proposals and evaluation metrics, and it has taken considerable time to fill critical policy gaps, some of which are still ongoing. The resulting lack of clarity on key points creates confusion and potentially deters some private sector entities from approaching the fund.

Going through the process of accreditation is a lengthy and onerous process, which relatively few private entities - especially where climate-related activities are only a small part of the business - have been willing to undertake. Proposals on alternative ways for these parties to work with the GCF, on a project-by-project basis, have been under discussion for a long period of time, but a decision was again deferred at the most recent board meeting.

And another initiative to draw in more private sector partners, by issuing a specific "request for proposals" to target them directly - an idea which we strongly supported - drew criticism for the fact that it then took two years for the GCF to approve any proposal. Uncertainty kills transactions, and this lack of ability to make timely decisions is a problem.

Private sector opportunities sometimes arise quickly, but may also rapidly unravel if the turnaround time is too slow. This year, the Green Climate Fund has begun its first replenishment process: going out to raise funds for the next four years of operations.

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So, I imagined that it was something like a very large private equity fund that would invest in green businesses in emerging markets. The discussions during my first consultation meeting, however, suggested that there was something different going on.

The novel to me term "capacity building" was used regularly with regard to the aims of the fund. There was uncertainty and, in some cases, real antipathy to the idea of allowing private sector organisations to collaborate with the GCF. Most striking was a group of representatives from the South Pacific islands, who angrily repeated that they didn't care about the technicalities, but they wanted lots of money!

Despite this slightly curious beginning, it was clear to me that the GCF was to be a considerable undertaking by the international community that had the potential for significant impact on the ground in developing countries. So, I stuck around and have been watching its development ever since. This is an interesting role, not to be found outside United Nations or other government-driven funding initiatives. It is part advisory - representing the needs and concerns of the private sector to decision makers who are usually public sector people - and part communications - putting out information into the business community about the operations and goals of the GCF.

In many ways, this kind of interaction is especially important for the GCF, which brands itself as "unique" within the climate finance ecosystem for its ability to mobilise private capital at scale into its projects and programmes, and therefore needs to be engaging closely with the wider commercial world. But as a person from the mainstream private sector, watching and taking part in GCF board meetings, it has sometimes been like entering a parallel universe, where the norms and standards of the business world do not apply.

At some meetings, board members spent as much time caucusing outside the board room as they did at the meeting table. Proceedings would grind to a halt. During one meeting at the GCF headquarters in Korea last year, they didn't even start until the end of the second day because of wrangling over the agenda. Board members would then continue discussions late into the night - finishing at 4.

What I didn't then understand was that many board members are experienced climate negotiators, for whom night time debating is normal! Board governance and decision making has at times also been hard to understand. Decisions have been made by the full board for the most part, even on relatively minor operational issues. This has meant that discussions are protracted and often it has been impossible to reach a conclusion, so that important policy issues are delayed from meeting to meeting. There has been enormous reluctance to delegate to the GCF Secretariat or to allocate decisions to those experts most capable to make them, such as a credit or investment committee, which would be the case in a typical financial institution.

Perhaps the most challenging element of GCF governance has been the traditional requirement for all board decisions to be agreed by consensus. In the business context, rules of procedure which allow one board member to block a decision against the wishes of the overwhelming majority would be viewed as unfeasible. At the GCF, this rule has caused significant delay and frustration, leading to uncertainty for project partners, unfavourable media coverage and serious concerns about the oversight of the institution.

To be fair, in the face of enormous pressure from potential contributors to the fund, this year the GCF board has managed to agree an alternative decision making process in the absence of consensus. At the most recent board meeting, a new voting process was tested for the first time, whereby members were able to approve a controversial project submission with two votes against and one abstention. Looking away from the theatrics that sometimes occur at board meetings - which are always, unfortunately, distracting - the Green Climate Fund has been steadily evolving and maturing into a substantial institution, which is making a significant contribution to accelerating the flow of climate finance to developing countries.

The GCF does not put capital directly into transactions, but works with "accredited entities", or partners which have been approved to receive funding from the GCF which they will onlend or invest in other institutions or projects. Nearly a hundred organisations are now accredited by the GCF, ranging from large multilaterals to local banks in a number of emerging markets. This is far in advance of the other climate funds operating today. The fund can also claim some success with encouraging private sector participation in its activities.

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. By using our website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our updated Cookie Notice. To successfully raise capital, the management teams develop fund strategies based on assumptions about distinct venture developments, their risk profiles and exit opportunities. First, it is difficult to know whether sustainable positive social or environmental impact has been achieved due to the longer time horizon needed to effect social change, and the lack of standards for measuring and benchmarking non-financial impact.

While it ultimately matters whether a fund reaches its impact and financial targets, until this can be properly evaluated, asset owners and investment advisers should focus on understanding the internal workings of an impact investment fund when conducting due diligence. As with other investment funds, impact investors are involved in three major types of activities and decisions: forming a fund investment strategy, raising capital and investing.

To complete these activities, fund management organizations typically include an investment committee IC or board, managing partners, investment managers and other personnel such as sector experts, associates and assistants. Being in a nascent sector, few people can claim to be long-term, experienced impact investing experts. Board members, managing partners and investment managers may come from investment banking, venture capital, asset management, strategy consulting, development organizations, philanthropy or development work.

These professionals make decisions based on how they were educated and socialized. If not managed carefully, such diversity in backgrounds can lead to unintended outcomes based on unconsciously diverging beliefs. Ideally, assumptions should be openly addressed to use diversity as a source of innovation rather than as an internal lack of clarity. For those funds that separate the final investment decision from the preparation of the decision, potential investment opportunities undergo a due-diligence process and are then presented to the IC in a written document distributed in advance, as a presentation at the IC meeting or on a conference call, with a subsequent follow-up discussion.

To understand past decisions or to assume future ones, asset holders might consider the following:. As the sector is still prototyping new approaches, impact investors should share how decisions are made flexibly, rather than overemphasizing a strategy that leads to predefined outcomes. Impact investors may need to make decisions that trade off greater impact against financial returns. For example, an impact enterprise can reinvest its profits into scaling its impact, or cross-subsidize lower profit areas and forgo offering its investors an early or higher pay-out in the short term.

Asset owners should evaluate impact investment fund management organizations based on their ability to foster productive debate between the two or three camps of managing for double or triple bottom lines. Here it is useful to ask the following questions:.

How fund managers understand and translate the mission statement into practice is important. The following questions can help ensure a consistent, coherent and meaningful decision-making process:. For example, Acumen Fund, the impact investing pioneer, targets foundations and philanthropists as primary limited partners LPs , whereas the specialist fund manager, Bridges Ventures, raises capital from institutional investors that require a financial return. As a rule of thumb, the more that revenue comes from the actual investment activity, the stronger the pressure will be on efficient decision-making, larger deal sizes and lower risk profiles.

By contrast, donation-based impact investors may not reach a comparable financial sustainability and scale to those applying a stand-alone business model. However, impact investors financed by donations and corporate and public sponsorships may have more space for innovative approaches, trial and error, sector development activities, pre-seed deals, highly contextualized impact analyses and investments in regions where purely commercial funds would not be able to get involved.

Bridges Ventures , and the management fee are not the only sources of income. Acumen Fund , some are linked to a corporate or institutional parent e.

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To be fair, in the face of enormous pressure from potential contributors to the fund, this year the GCF board has managed to agree an alternative decision making process in the absence of consensus. At the most recent board meeting, a new voting process was tested for the first time, whereby members were able to approve a controversial project submission with two votes against and one abstention. Looking away from the theatrics that sometimes occur at board meetings - which are always, unfortunately, distracting - the Green Climate Fund has been steadily evolving and maturing into a substantial institution, which is making a significant contribution to accelerating the flow of climate finance to developing countries.

The GCF does not put capital directly into transactions, but works with "accredited entities", or partners which have been approved to receive funding from the GCF which they will onlend or invest in other institutions or projects. Nearly a hundred organisations are now accredited by the GCF, ranging from large multilaterals to local banks in a number of emerging markets.

This is far in advance of the other climate funds operating today. The fund can also claim some success with encouraging private sector participation in its activities. These vary enormously in scope and size, including solar power in Nigeria, energy efficiency in Mongolia, a green mini grid programme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and multiple renewable energy projects in Khazakstan.

Moreover, GCF support has even catalysed private sector investment in adaptation - typically much more challenging than mobilising capital for mitigation projects. One such example is a programme of sustainable landscape measures to enhance the resilience of smallholders in Madagascar, where the fund's involvement stimulated additional private debt and equity capital to fund the activity.

As I step down from my position as Active Private Sector Observer, I would sum up the Green Climate Fund over the last four years as having been somewhat ambivalent towards the business community at times.

The fund has serious aspirations to expand its activities with the private sector, reach out further to new commercial partners and aggressively leverage private capital into its projects. All of this is very welcome. However, there have been challenges in implementation. The GCF Secretariat and the board have struggled to complete the framework underpinning funding proposals and evaluation metrics, and it has taken considerable time to fill critical policy gaps, some of which are still ongoing.

The resulting lack of clarity on key points creates confusion and potentially deters some private sector entities from approaching the fund. Going through the process of accreditation is a lengthy and onerous process, which relatively few private entities - especially where climate-related activities are only a small part of the business - have been willing to undertake.

Proposals on alternative ways for these parties to work with the GCF, on a project-by-project basis, have been under discussion for a long period of time, but a decision was again deferred at the most recent board meeting. And another initiative to draw in more private sector partners, by issuing a specific "request for proposals" to target them directly - an idea which we strongly supported - drew criticism for the fact that it then took two years for the GCF to approve any proposal.

Uncertainty kills transactions, and this lack of ability to make timely decisions is a problem. Private sector opportunities sometimes arise quickly, but may also rapidly unravel if the turnaround time is too slow. This year, the Green Climate Fund has begun its first replenishment process: going out to raise funds for the next four years of operations.

This has involved an extensive effort to review its progress to date and to evaluate its effectiveness. The outcomes of this internal and external appraisal will be fed into a revised strategic plan to guide the next phase of operations. This creates an important opportunity going forward for the GCF to match its ambition for interaction with the private sector with execution.

Since its operationalisation in , the fund has achieved a great deal, but it can do more. Now is the time to cut short some of the discussion around longstanding issues and move forward with bold decision making. The private sector needs clarity, transparency and consistency from the GCF.

And in order to meet its critical investment goals, the GCF needs the private sector. Search Account. By contrast, donation-based impact investors may not reach a comparable financial sustainability and scale to those applying a stand-alone business model. However, impact investors financed by donations and corporate and public sponsorships may have more space for innovative approaches, trial and error, sector development activities, pre-seed deals, highly contextualized impact analyses and investments in regions where purely commercial funds would not be able to get involved.

Bridges Ventures , and the management fee are not the only sources of income. Acumen Fund , some are linked to a corporate or institutional parent e. LGT Venture Philanthropy , and some may be initiated as an investment into a new business line e.

Some fund managers generate revenues from private wealth advisory mandates; others accept grants from public funders for technical assistance, advisory and coaching of ventures; and some pursue revenues from investment activity alone, i. Bamboo Finance, Social Venture Fund. While they bring the mainstreaming of impact investing ever closer, few regions and sectors today allow for purely commercial impact investments in start-up and growth companies.

A large number of impactful ventures fall through their due diligence processes. Larger impact investment fund managers may have teams distributed across the globe, with regional offices responsible for deal screening, negotiations and post-investment support of portfolio companies.

While this may help fund managers to align with local realities, it is harder to adhere to one coherent, global fund strategy that can be communicated to asset owners looking to invest in a fund. Incentives can translate intended governance into behaviour. A carried interest in impact investing must be well designed to avert prioritizing financial over social impact goals.

Asset holders and entrepreneurs should ask about the governance practices in place; how people are incentivized; and how governance has actually worked in past strategy and operational changes. Key questions may be:. By presenting some new perspectives and emphasizing intuitive thoughts, this article is meant to contribute to mitigating a few pitfalls of the emerging impact investing sector.

Fund managers should be allowed to prototype and pilot their approaches, stay humble with expectations for returns, and reach out to mainstream investors, rather than emphasizing novelty. I accept. Agenda Initiatives Reports Events About. Preface 2. Introduction to the Mainstreaming Impact Investing Initiative 3. Innovations for Unlocking Mainstream Capital 5.

Acknowledgements and About the Authors. Report Home 1. A set of recommended key questions in each area can help to understand the inner workings of a fund. As the sector is still prototyping new approaches, impact investment fund managers should share how decisions are made flexibly, and not overemphasize a strict fund strategy that leads to predefined outcomes.

Asset owners should appreciate this flexibility instead of viewing it as a lack of focus.

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Patient capital that dares to go where markets have failed and aid has fallen short. We invest in intrepid entrepreneurs and early stage innovators tackling the problems of poverty. Patient capital is a third way that seeks to bridge the gap between the efficiency and scale of market-based approaches and the social impact of pure philanthropy. We provide our companies with access to our expertise and networks of advisors who have deep sector, channel and customer experience.

To help our companies grow and scale, we offer active post-investment support and guidance in the areas of strategy, governance, customer insights and fundraising. Our investments focus on companies tackling poverty across multiple sectors including agriculture, clean energy, education and healthcare. Our Approach Patient capital that dares to go where markets have failed and aid has fallen short. Access to expertise We provide our companies with access to our expertise and networks of advisors who have deep sector, channel and customer experience.

Post-investment support To help our companies grow and scale, we offer active post-investment support and guidance in the areas of strategy, governance, customer insights and fundraising. Its narrow specialization in maternal health care has been instrumental in lowering costs and increasing productivity in its locations. By limiting capital expenditures such as renting hospital buildings on multi year leases, outsourcing pharmacy and laboratory services and reducing the amount of machinery to only those necessary in performing a safe normal delivery, LifeSpring hospitals has brought the cost down to make it accessible to the poor population.

Through its process-driven model, LifeSpring has filled a void in the Indian healthcare landscape. Its developmental goals are to reduce maternal and child mortality while achieving financial sustainability. It ensures that more babies are born with qualified physicians rather than at home in high-risk situations. Additional income generated apart from deliveries is attributed to family planning services, consultation fees and rent from outsourced laboratory and pharmacy.

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