Author Archives: Evonne Liew

Abandoning the spreadsheets to go into the field


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by Nathalia Rodriguez Vega, financial and economic analysis officer, Global Partnerships

My job requires me to be an Excel and data nerd. You can usually find me wading through due diligence reports, financial statements and monitoring spreadsheets. These are the resources I depend on to evaluate investments in current and potential partners. But as much as I love spreadsheets and data, there are some things that they cannot convey. This is why going into the field to meet with partners and their clients is so important – something I learned during my recent trip to Peru with my colleague Gerardo Talavera. We visited four of Global Partnerships’ (GP’s) partners over the course of one hectic week. Here are three reflections from my trip:


Alicia Kozuch, co-founder of Buen Power. 1. We talk a lot about finding partners that have a strong commitment to mission and solid financial track record. But something we don’t talk about enough is that we also place a high value on strong governance. Strong governance is so crucial because the market is very dynamic, full of challenges and evolving situations. An organization’s resiliency during changing market conditions, such as increasing competition or epidemics like Coffee Leaf Rust, mostly depends on the quality of governance.

Good governance aims to uphold the organization's goals and mission, guide its strategic direction, mitigate risks, and ensure accountability. To assess all of this, we need to understand the management’s strengths and areas for improvement, get a sense of their management style and how they interact with staff, which cannot be easily captured in written biographies or resumes. We also need to understand the role that the board of directors plays to provide a check-and-balance to the management team. Also, because it can be challenging to secure talented staff in rural areas, we value managers that empower their staff with opportunities to strengthen their skills through continued education.

Learning: Field visits help us notice and understand things that might get lost in translation or missed when they are typed up into reports or emails. As a result, these observations provide context for how or why decisions are made.

Picture: We visited Alicia Kozuch, co-founder of Buen Power, a GP partner in Cusco.


Peruvian Scenery2. One of my favorite memories from my trip was the conversation I had with our driver, Nilton, during our 3.5 hour journey from La Merced to Huancayo. The road twisted and turned, taking us up and down beautiful green hills and chaparral-filled valleys. All the while, Nilton shared with me that he took out two loans to build up his quinoa farm. Nilton works six days a week (as a part-time driver and full-time farmer) so that his kids, Nilton Jr. (age 12) and Lucero (age 6), can have bright futures as professionals. The pride and hope that I saw in Nilton’s eyes when he explained how his son got good grades, helped his younger sister with homework, and aspired to become a doctor, was incredibly powerful. It’s in those moments that I’m reminded why I decided to leave the private sector two years ago and work for a nonprofit impact investor.

Learning: Field visits help us remain connected to our mission, and to the people we serve through our partners.


Gerardo Talavera gives a presentation to GP staffers in Seattle.3. On our first working day in Lima, we woke up at 3:30 AM, caught our ride to the airport at 4:00, arrived in Cusco at 8:00, had meetings until 6:00 PM, arrived at the hotel at 6:30, and continued working (skipping dinner) until 9:00. I then had a long shower, a granola bar and promptly knocked out. Gerardo kept working until 11:00 that night. This is just one example of how dedicated he and the rest of our portfolio team in Nicaragua are. They are constantly on the road and work long days, meeting with partners to collect information and perform analysis. Equally important, they build strong relationships with our partners. I was so impressed by how much respect our partners had for Gerardo, and how they valued his opinions.

Learning: Having a highly dedicated local team that makes regular field visits helps us build strong relationships with partners, and better understand and empathize with the challenges they face. This in turn helps us make more thoughtful and better-informed recommendations.

Photo: Gerardo Talavera gives a presentation to GP staffers in Seattle.


On the long plane ride home, I thought about all the new people I met and things that I learned from them. I felt so grateful for the opportunity and reenergized about GP’s mission. Now that I’m back in Seattle, I see not just numbers, figures and trends when I look at my spreadsheets; I also see our partners’ dedication. And I see our team’s commitment. I also see the hope in Nilton’s eyes. And I’m reminded of the impact that our work can have.


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Blog Tags: due diligence   field visit   Latin America   Peru   

Peruvian scenery
Nathalia's trip was full of scenery like this. © Global Partnerships.

Investors Report for the First Quarter of 2014


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Global Partnerships' Investors Report for Q1 of 2014This year Global Partnerships (GP) celebrates its 20th anniversary as an organization and 10th anniversary as a fund manager. It's a big year for us, and there are many exciting things brewing at GP as we set our strategy for the next couple of decades. For example, in the near future (this Fall), our Microfinance Fund 2008 (MFF 2008) will mature. Through MFF 2008, we have been able to invest over $21 million into partners that serve people living in poverty. The fund's maturation means that we anticipate a financial return that will be used to seed future investments into more social enterprise partners.

Our latest Investors Report goes into more detail about MFF 2008 and our social investment funds, as well as discusses our recently expanded Social Investment Team and new Program & Impact Team. The collaboration between these two teams helps us to provide the types of capital and support our partners need, as well as understand the impact of partner program initiatives, and identify excellent programmatic opportunities in our four impact areas.

Read our Investors Report for the first quarter of 2014:     

  • Our Chief Investment and Operating Officer, Mark Coffey, shares an update on Global Partnerships’ Social Investment Team, along with how this group works closely with the newly-formed Program and Impact Team. (read here).
  • We take a deeper look at CRECER, a Bolivian microfinance institution that has been a pioneer in leveraging the village bank platform to integrate critical services sustainably and at scale (read here).
  • We provide updates on our Social Investment Funds' performance (read here).

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Blog Tags: 20th anniversary   investors   investors report   microfinance fund      

CRECER's loan officer provides education about cervical cancer while promoting the importance of annual screening.
CRECER's loan officer provides education about cervical cancer while promoting the importance of annual screening. © Global Partnerships.

What is the world’s toughest job?


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GP IMPACT: Summer 2014

For those of you in the U.S., you know that Mother’s Day was May 11, a joyful time to recognize the amazing contributions mothers make. In honor of all the smart and courageous mothers around the world, we’ve dedicated this issue of our IMPACT newsletter to them.

FEATURED STORY
Read about the toughest job in the world, and learn why investing in women yields enormous benefits for them, their families and the greater global economy. Read more >

PERSPECTIVES
Our partner, Friendship Bridge in Guatemala, highlights how more than 20,000 of their clients have improved their own lives through access to business and financial education as well as capital. Read more >

THE ROUND UP
We selected a few reports on why investing in women is important, and on the rise of “gender lens investing,” which seeks to direct more capital into efforts that close the gender gap in financial access, education and workplace opportunity. Read more >

IMPACT IN ACTION
Follow the scent of spices in the home of Dorotea Champi from Arequipa, Peru. From farm laborer to small business owner, she illustrates why investing in women is so important and so rewarding.  Meet Dorotea >

FROM THE FIELD
Sixta, one of our portfolio directors, brings us stories from the field! As a woman and mother, she understands and connects personally with the women she meets during partner visits. She shares their dreams and aspirations with you. Read more >

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Blog Tags: entrepreneur   gender lens   Guatemala   IMPACT Newsletter   microentrepreneurship   Peru   women   

Dorotea Champi stands in her spice workshop with ADRA staff.
Dorotea Champi stands in her spice workshop with staff from ADRA, one of Global Partnerships' partners in Peru. Photo © Global Partnerships.

(VIDEO) Solar lights have the power to improve lives


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In a solar-light illuminated office, Danny Stokley, Green Technology Fund officer, explains why solar lights are important in developing countries.

Screenshot of Danny Stokley's video

Watch the video (47 seconds) >

On his trips to visit Global Partnerships' (GP's) partners, Danny often witnesses the impact that solar lights can have on families.

On a recent trip to visit MiCrédito, a GP partner in Nicaragua, Danny traveled with them to the verdant but rural region of Monte Fresco. There, he met Maritsa Jarquín (pictured right), a MiCrédito client. She has lived in the same rural community for her entire life, relying on agricultural production for income to support her 13 kids. She now supplements that income by selling solar lights.

She also purchased one solar light for herself, which is much brighter and less expensive than her two previous lighting solutions: kerosene lanterns and battery powered flashlights. Maritsa uses her solar light every night to illuminate her kitchen, where she cooks for her family over an open fireplace. GP’s investment in our partner MiCrédito’s solar light initiative helps mothers like Maritsa improve their household finances and quality of life.

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Our 3-part blog series on our investment in solar technology

 


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Blog Tags: impact in action   Nicaragua   solar energy   solar light   solar technology   video   

Maritsa Jarquin
Maritsa Jarquín, a client of our partner MiCrédito, uses a solar light to illuminate her kitchen, where she cooks for her family every night. Photo © Global Partnerships.

Volunteering for her community, even when she’s far from home


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April was National Volunteer Month. To mark the occasion, we're highlighting another of our amazing volunteers. Marta Zuluaga has been volunteering at Global Partnerships (GP) for over two years. She provides us with a wide range of support, from Spanish translation to financial analysis. She is like an honorary member of our team, and we're deeply grateful for her help.

1. Why did you decide to volunteer at GP?

A couple of months after moving to Seattle area from Colombia, my home country, I started looking for Seattle-based nonprofit organizations focused on the development of Latin American communities, in which I could volunteer my time and expertise. When I found Global Partnerships, I couldn’t think of a better fit. Then, I got connected with GP and was so fortunate to find great opportunities for me to contribute to the organization’s mission of expanding opportunity for people living in poverty, while utilizing my skills and doing what I love.

 2. In a nutshell, what do you help GP with?

I have helped GP through different roles such as performing financial and risk management analysis, research, supporting fund management activities, as well as conducting interviews to partner organizations and their clients and serving as Spanish/English translator on a couple of trips to South America.

3. What do you enjoy about working with GP?

I truly enjoy the mix of serving a great cause, doing interesting work and interacting with a very smart, committed and warm group of people.  I also love that all I do contributes to GP’s efforts to expand opportunity for impoverished people and generate sustainable impact on their lives. Moreover, I feel very happy to serve the Latin American community, even when living miles away.

4. What benefits do you get from your work with us and what would you suggest to people interested seeking a similar opportunity and want to get the most they can out of it?

The most important benefit for me is to be able to serve a cause I deeply care about and a community I love.  Also, having the opportunity to utilize and develop my skills while working with an exceptional group of professionals is of great value for me.

If you are interested in volunteering, I would suggest that you identify organizations working for the cause(s) you care about that could use your skill set and time.

Then, evaluate how you could support their mission, given the organization’s needs, and what you can offer. If you think there could be a good match, contact the organization to express your interest and explore opportunities for you to contribute to their work.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at GP, please send us an email at info@globalpartnerships.org.

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Blog Tags: get involved   volunteer   

Marta Zuluaga and Lucila
Marta Zuluaga (left), a long-time GP volunteer, with Lucilla, a client of GP's partner, Arariwa, in Peru. Marta served as a translator on several trips to South America. Photo © Global Partnerships.

The state of impact investing in Latin America


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What is the current state of impact investing in Latin America? The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) hosted a webinar on April 11 to discuss this very topic. The talk was led by Kusi Hornberger, consultant at Bain & Company and the founder of SIMB.co, a blog about social impact business models. Here are three of our takeaways and thoughts on Hornberger’s presentation:

  1. Impact investing in Latin America has grown to approximately $1.4 billion in commitments.

    However, of that amount, only about $800 million has actually been invested. Global Partnerships (GP) is one of about 70 impact investors investing in the region. At present, we have over $57 million* in social investment fund capital at work in Latin America and the Caribbean. This means we currently provide an estimated 7 percent** of the active impact investing capital in the region.

  2. The impact investing market in Latin America is still early-stage.

    Hornberger explained that, in the context of the four phases of market development (uncoordinated innovation, marketplace building, marketplace capture, and maturity), impact investing in Latin America is in between the first two stages: uncoordinated innovation and marketplace building. This means that there are now many more industry players, and they have experimented with different models. But, in order for the marketplace to develop to the next stage, supporting institutions and a legal framework that support impact investing need to be formed.

  3. Impact investors in Latin America face the same challenges that the impact investing industry as a whole is addressing.

    One such challenge is the lack of enough investable opportunities. Hornberger broke down the four main stages of impact investing opportunities: (1) idea formation (2) start-up (3) growth (4) scale. Most impact investors invest in the “growth” and “scale” stages, but the investable enterprises at that stage are limited.

    We believe that one way to develop more opportunities is to have accelerators mentor  enterprises at the startup stage, when they are developing their product and business plan, and testing out pilots. Accelerators can also connect social enterprises with the resources and support they need to become “investment-ready.” However, accelerators need to align their approach with impact investors' needs for this pipeline-building mechanism to work.

One webinar attendee from Mexico also observed that there is an increasing amount of local impact investors cropping up in Latin America, and they are more likely to invest in earlier-stage ventures than foreign investors. This could indicate that there’s a trend forming where Latin American capital is used to build a pipeline of later-stage enterprises for foreign impact investments.

In regard to our role, historically, GP has invested in organizations that have achieved financial sustainability but we are looking to play a bigger role in catalyzing early-stage social enterprises. We seek innovative initiatives that have the potential to ignite long-term solutions, regardless of the stage they are in. Other industry challenges include: defining and executing impact measurement and looking for successful exit opportunities.

Why does this matter?

As impact investing grows in Latin America, so too do the number of opportunities created for people living in poverty. The majority of impact investors in Latin America currently focus on housing, education, agriculture and microfinance, so opportunities in those areas are being created and developed. GP’s investments are centered on health, rural livelihoods, green technology and microentrepreneurship. By making impact investments in initiatives within these four impact areas in Latin America and the Caribbean, we maintain our commitment to expanding opportunity for people living in poverty.

To learn more about our work, please subscribe to our blog by clicking here or entering your email in the subscription box at the top right corner of www.globalpartnerships.org.

*Does not include grant capital. Figure from most recent Investors Report.
**Estimate based on GIIN/JP Morgan reports and author’s interviews with ~20 fund managers investing in Latin America and data collection from an additional 10-20 fund websites or exchange of email.

Blog Tags: accelerators   ANDE   Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs   impact   Latin America         

A young Nicaraguan girl.
Global Partnerships' impact investments help expand opportunities for families living in poverty, and for future generations. Photo © Global Partnerships.

GP presents at Global Health and Innovation Conference


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Since World Health Day was on April 7, "an opportunity for individuals in every community to get involved in activities that can lead to better health," it's fitting that the Global Health and Innovation Conference (GHIC) will take place this weekend.

From April 12 to 13 at Yale University, approximately 2,200 conference attendees will convene to exchange ideas on the "most thorough, comprehensive and groundbreaking work in global health, social entrepreneurship, and international development.” GHIC keynote speakers include the likes of Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute, Michael Moss, New York Times investigative reporter, and Seth Godin, NYT best-selling author and marketing guru. GHIC is the “world’s leading and largest global health and social entrepreneurship conference” and our VP of Health Services Fund, Lara Diaconu, has been invited to present. 

Lara will present on GP’s community pharmacy work with our partner, COMIXMUL, in Honduras. The community pharmacy model was designed to sustainably provide isolated, poor communities with access to affordable medications. Lara will share insights, including how COMIXMUL was able to build and train a network of 200 volunteer community pharmacists to serve as local access points for essential medications.

A graph showing COMIXMUL's community pharmacy program costs and revenues.

(Click graphic to enlarge) COMIXMUL’s revamped community pharmacy program model looks promising, with the latest numbers indicating that revenue from medicine sales can break even with program operation costs. This means that it is possible for poor, rural families to access and afford medications from social enterprises like COMIXMUL without philanthropic subsidies. If successful, this model could be scaled to serve more people.

Follow the conference on Twitter with hashtag #GHIC.

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Blog Tags: access   COMIXMUL   community pharmacy   Latin America   

Poor, rural families in Honduras often can't access medications due to cost and geographical barriers. Graphic © Global Partnerships.
Poor, rural families in Honduras often can't access medications due to cost and geographical barriers. Graphic © Global Partnerships.

National Volunteer Month


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April is National Volunteer Month. We've been fortunate to have many amazing volunteers over the years. They help us with everything from event support to translation to research. We would not be able to achieve everything we do without their generous help. For National Volunteer Month, we would like to highlight Frederic Anauld, who provides us with pro-bono consulting services in digital analytics and marketing. We're grateful for his support. 

1. Why did you decide to volunteer your consulting services at GP?

Frederic AnauldI initially decided to volunteer my consulting services at GP after working on an analysis project on their previous website as part of the Analysis Exchange, a program aimed at providing web analytics resources to the nonprofit community. During that assignment, I got a chance to learn more about what Global Partnerships stands for and was impressed by its ability to impact the lives of millions of people in Latin America and in the Caribbean on many levels.

Coming from Martinique, a small island in the French West Indies, I tend to think that we are all world citizens and that anyone can benefit from a little help from each other. It often does not cost much and it can really impact someone’s life (in addition to make you feel good about volunteering and sharing your knowledge for a good cause).

 2. In a nutshell, what do you help GP with?

Basically I help GP with optimizing its web presence and making the most out of that affordable medium that the web is. My main task consists in collecting actionable insights to improve the quantity and quality of online visits, and generate desired outcomes that are aligned with the organization's raison d'etre.

3. What do you enjoy about working with GP?

I really enjoy the flexibility of our collaboration. Working full time in California, I am very happy to work with such understanding and flexible individuals. It is also nice to collaborate with such a dedicated team that takes time to communicate and share feedback on a regular basis, despite having many other tasks to handle.

4. What benefits do you get from your work with us and what would you suggest to people interested seeking a similar opportunity and want to get the most they can out of it?

First and foremost, I feel gratified thinking that my small contribution helps GP raise awareness and improve the lives of people in a profound and sustainable way.

I also appreciate the fact that this volunteering experience allows me to improve my skills as one is never done learning especially in a constantly changing environment like the web. I would suggest to anyone interested in volunteering to just contact any organization whose cause they believe in or to perform a simple search online for terms like "How to Volunteer." There are many programs whose mission is to match people with organizations. Most nonprofit organizations have to do more with less and can always use some more resources. Just jump in, you will be glad you did.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at GP, please send us an email at info@globalpartnerships.org.

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Blog Tags: National Volunteer Month   volunteer   

Quote from Fred Anauld
Quote from Fred Anauld, one of GP's pro-bono consultants.