Featured Stories

Light Up Hope on October 8


We hope you'll join us for this year's Business of Hope Luncheon (BOH) on October 8, which will highlight our early-stage Green Technology (GreenTech) work. Your attendance will help support our GreenTech work, which aims to connect families that live in rural, un-electrified areas, with access to affordable, renewable energy solutions, such as solar technologies.

Currently, our GreenTech initiative includes new investments in social enterprise partners in Honduras and Nicaragua; our partners have developed business models that allow rural families to purchase affordable solar solutions. Solar technologies have the potential to help increase family incomes, boost educational achievement, improve health, and reduce negative impacts on the environment.

Our BOH guest speaker, Florinda Salinas, is an example of the benefits that solar technologies can offer (her story is below). Please click here to learn more about or register for BOH. Jane Stonecipher, a GP board member and BOH event co-chair, would also like to share with you 3 reasons to attend BOH (click to watch).

Meet Florinda Salinas, this  year's featured BOH guest speaker

A pile of utility poles lay on the ground one block from Florinda Salinas’ house in rural Santo Domingo, Honduras. They have been there for months, maybe even years. Florinda explains that the poles are intended for an electrical expansion project that will connect her town to the nearest energy grid. She then laughs and says, “I will believe it when I actually see light bulbs glowing in town.” Electricity will not be coming to Santo Domingo any time soon.

Florinda charges her cellphone using her solar home system.Roughly 1.4 million people, or 40 percent, of Hondurans living in rural areas do not have access to a reliable and affordable source of electricity. This means not having enough light to work or study at night, spending limited and often unstable income on expensive and unhealthy sources of energy such as kerosene, and difficulty charging electronics like cell phones to conduct business or keep in touch with loved ones. Through hard work, Florinda qualified to receive a loan to buy a solar home system through Global Partnerships’ (GP) partner, COMIXMUL, a cooperative that provides women with savings and credit products and access to health services/education and green technologies.

Florinda and her husband Oscar can now weave hammocks after dusk using solar-powered lights.

With the solar home system, Florinda and her husband Oscar save money on kerosene costs and can continue weaving hammocks after dusk; the Salinas’ hammock business is their main source of income, so maximizing work hours is critical. They can also charge their cell phone, which they use to communicate with their wholesale hammock buyer and keep in touch with their eldest son, who is studying on scholarship in Tegucigalpa, a city over 100 miles away.

Florinda's son studies in school.Additionally, their younger sons, Edras (8), Edson (10), Lester (15) and Eric (17) can now study under bright solar powered lights. Florinda, who only attended school until the sixth grade, is certain that education is the key to her sons’ success. “I want my kids to become professionals. I don’t want them making hammocks. I want a better life for them,” and having the solar home system helps light the way forward.

Blog Tags: BOH   Business of Hope   energy poverty   last mile challenge   solar energy   solar light   solar technology   

A woman uses a kerosene lamp.
Over 1 billion people worldwide lack access to affordable sources of energy. Many rely on antiquated energy solutions, such as kerosene lamps that emit acrid black smoke (bad for health and the environment) and are expensive to maintain. Photo © Global Partnerships 2013

3 Developments Point to Next Era of Impact Investing


Some of the latest developments in the impact investing field point to a trend that is increasingly gaining steam: impact investing 1.0 is coming to a close and version 2.0 is here. The evolution includes a shift in conversation from defining “who” impact investors are and “what” we do, to how we do it to create impact, and how we will define and measure that impact. This evolution to the next stage requires: a framework by which investors can more easily decide where to invest their money; strategies for exits; and cooperation from government and corporations. Here are 3 articles we read recently that expand on this trend in greater detail:

1.  A newly-formed Social Impact Investment Taskforce (announced at SOCAP13) will provide recommendations on a policy framework that will “help foster a social investment market” by standardizing (1) how social impact is measured and (2) the methods by which foundations, institutions, and private investors can invest. The taskforce’s members come from high levels of government and foundations in France, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S, and they aim to present their policy framework within the next 12 months.

Original link

2. Sasha Dichter (Acumen) responded to a Stanford Social Innovation Review article about creating impact. Sasha argues that it’s time to shift the conversation to focus on defining and measuring impact, because ultimately "what we care about is whether, how, and why impact investments improve peoples' lives."  He says, “Nearly all of the discussion in impact investing currently is focused on the capital-formation end of the value chain: Who is an impact investor? What are returns? And yet the things that matter the most happen at the other end of the value chain, at the level of customers and the enterprises that serve them [...] The [Global Impact Investing Network’s] IRIS taxonomy and its GIIRS ratings system serve as strong foundations for these efforts, but they are just a starting point.”

Original link

3. Three insights into the future of impact investing emerged from SOCAP13 that you should know about: (1) the discourse in the impact investing landscape is shifting from “who” constitutes an impact investor and “what” impact investors do, to “how” impact investing can be done in order to achieve both social impact and financial return. (2) Impact investors must address the need for successful exits and provide entrepreneurs with “the appropriate mix of capital—solutions such as royalties, demand dividends, etc.” (3) Capital is not enough; corporations and governments need to also participate.

Original link

Blog Tags: impact investing 2.0   measurement   measuring impact   trends   

Nathalia Rodriguez Vega speaks to an audience about GP's evolution.
Nathalia Rodriguez Vega, GP's financial and economic analyst, speaks to a packed room about how GP has evolved into the impact investor it is today, and why ending poverty necessitates provision of access to services and products beyond credit. She also fielded questions about GP's approach to measuring impact (more info in our Fall 2013 newsletter at www.globalpartnerships.org/newsletter). The talk, entitled "Macro on Micro," kicked off the Burke Museum's lecture series on "Empowering Women." Photo © Global Partnerships 2013

Impact First? Return First? Hint: It’s Neither


by Jason Henning, director of investor relations, Global Partnerships

It happens more times than I care to admit. I am holding a promising conversation with a potential investor who signals alignment on impact objectives and geography. Timing works, the approval process is shared, and then it happens: we have the rate conversation. It quickly becomes very clear that our fund’s pricing does not match the investor’s fiduciary priority of maximizing returns.

As the impact investment sector continues to evolve and progress, more and more energy has been spent on determining whether high levels of social impact are harmonious with market-rate returns.

For years now, an “impact first” vs. “return first” debate has played out within the industry. The former argument holds that below-market rates are required to truly achieve high social impact in poor, underserved markets. Those who subscribe to the latter believe that market rates of return are necessary to attract large pools of capital into the field.

To me, the problem with this debate is that it holds the investor as the central actor in the story, and suggests that we in the industry are structuring funds based on the return expectations of investors. As a nonprofit impact investor, Global Partnerships builds its programs – and by extension, its pricing and capital type – around the needs of clients.

Since its inception, Global Partnerships has made approximately $100 million in impact investments in over 65 partners, and among our key insights is that most high-performing institutions demonstrate a strong commitment to client satisfaction. We identify a problem to solve – lack of access to health services, poor market access for smallholder farmers – and we tailor our approach, including matching the capital intervention to the needs of those we’re serving. This may mean providing a startup grant to a credit and savings cooperative to launch a market-sustained health program. Or it could mean a low-cost working capital loan to a solar light distributor in an effort to address a bottleneck within the value chain. In each example our approach is driven by the desired outcome, not price expectations on the part of our investors.

A key to our approach is working with mission-aligned partners throughout the process. To ensure exceptional, results-driven social impact, we have created a portfolio of social enterprises with strong commitments to the needs of people living in poverty. And since the inception of our first fund, we have sourced capital from over 100 impact investors who value our funds’ stable, fixed income return as well as the thoughtfulness of our impact areas.

Impact first? Return first? Let’s identify the challenge, put the client first, and build our solutions from there.

Blog Tags:    

Two clients served by GP's partner ADRA (Peru) weave mats to sell.
Corina Apaza is a microentrepreneur and a client of ADRA, a GP partner in Peru. Through ADRA, Corina has received training on how to save and manage her money, in addition to financing to run her mat weaving business. Corina dreams of her four children becoming professionals and works hard to provide brighter futures for them. She is pictured weaving mats using cane (similar to bamboo) with her husband. Photo © Global Partnerships 2013

3 Things Learned at SOCAP13


by Jason Henning, director of investor relations, Global Partnerships

Last week I had the good fortune to attend SOCAP13, an event touted as the “intersection of money and meaning.” Over 1,800 people attended countless plenary sessions, panels, meetings, and receptions that facilitated idea exchanges on impact investing and social enterprise. Below are three of the major themes I took away from this year’s conference:

1. “This is not a sector, it’s a point of view.” – Tim Freundlich, President of ImpactAssets

As impact investing moves mainstream, most within the industry don’t see the approach as an asset class, but rather, a lens through which one views all asset allocation. There are a growing number of individuals, foundations and family offices that are all aligning 100% of their balance sheets on mission, and they were well represented at this year’s event.

2. Impact investing 2.0

Jed Emerson, Cathy Clark and Ben Thornley previewed their upcoming case studies focused on 13 high-performing investors. In what they coin “Impact Investing 2.0,” they see a maturing landscape of different stripes of capital with various motivations being managed by dynamic, cross-disciplinary fund managers. The trio also put a rest to the “impact first vs. finance first” debate by declaring “It’s mission first. And last.”

3. Deals are getting done

In a recent JP Morgan/GIIN impact investor survey, a “shortage of high quality investment opportunities” was cited as the second largest barrier to growth within the impact investment industry. But at SOCAP, there was no shortage of strong teams representing high-impact funds meeting difficult social challenges, from fresh food finance to aquaculture to investing in women. And the investors – from individuals to foundations to development banks – were in attendance and listening.

GP was represented among the conference's panelists by my colleague Lara Diaconu, vice president, Health Services Fund. She participated on a panel entitled, “Doing Well by Doing Good.” Lara spoke about how different types of capital (such as knowledge, philanthropic and debt capital) are required to meet different health challenges. Please feel free to watch the video recording of the panel.

Lastly, SOCAP has historically served as a welcoming venue to make new announcements. Continuing this tradition, B Lab announced its launch of B Analytics, a platform for measuring, benchmarking and reporting on impact. ImpactAssets followed by trumpeting the creation of Seed Ventures Platform, an online community that seeks to address the market gap in seed stage risk capital by connecting investors with impact entrepreneurs.

Learn More:

Interested in some of the top sessions from SOCAP13? Many of them were recorded and are available here.

 

Blog Tags: BLab   ImpactAssets   Seed Ventures Platform   SOCAP13      

Lara Diaconu sitting on a panel at SOCAP 2013
Lara Diaconu (far left), VP of GP's Health Services Fund, participated on a panel at SOCAP13 entitled, "Doing Well by Doing Good." Photo © Global Partnerships 2013

Why is Measuring Impact so Complex? Learn More in our Fall Newsletter


There have been many discussions among our peer organizations and leaders in the impact investing community around measuring impact. And you, our supporters, have expressed interest in how we define and measure impact. We listened. So, in this newsletter, we devote all our content around the theme of impact:

FEATURED STORY
Our feature article simplifies our very complex process for defining and measuring success. Read more >

PERSPECTIVES
We spoke with our partner, Espoir, to get their perspective on what makes for a successful partnership that delivers impact. Watch the video >

THE ROUND UP
Our Round Up highlights the latest thinking around measurement. Read more >

IMPACT IN ACTION
Inspiring us all, Florinda shares her story on the impact a solar home system has made in the life of her and her family. Read more >

FROM THE FIELD
Read about Jonathan’s work in our Nicaragua office and how we monitor for social impact. Read more >

Lastly, we’d like to invite you to come join us at our Business of Hope Luncheon on Oct. 8, where you’ll hear more about how your support helps create an impact. You can register online by visiting: http://www.globalpartnerships.org/boh

Thanks again for your generous support. As always, we welcome your questions, feedback and ideas. We hope you'll also consider keeping up with our latest news and insights by subscribing to our blog. 

Blog Tags: Business of Hope   COMIXMUL   Espoir   events   FODEMI   Latin America   measuring impact   

Florinda Salinas charges her cell phone using her solar home system.
Florinda Salinas charges her cell phone using her solar home system. Learn more about her in the latest edition of IMPACT. She will also be speaking at this year's Business of Hope Luncheon in Seattle. Photo © Global Partnerships 2013.

Putting the “Partner” in Global Partnerships


by Ricardo Visbal, vice president, portfolio management

Our partnerships with microfinance institutions, cooperatives and other social enterprises are what enable us to do what we do: expand opportunity for people living in poverty. Partnerships allow us to reach underserved populations by leveraging existing local channels.  Our approach is bolstered by a recent Stanford Social Innovation Review article, which says, “To ramp up impact and create long-lasting change, organizations must explore ways to set the global standard in their field. This requires an ecosystem around the idea—replicating through partnerships.”

What do we look for when we seek out partners?  

Our first and foremost concern lies in creating impact for people living in poverty. This means that when we search for partner organizations, we seek out high-performing organizations that:

1. are mission-aligned;

2. emphasize social impact first; and

3. are dedicated to reaching underserved populations.

It's important that there is mutual interest based on mission alignment. Successful collaborations happen when all parties work together based on "recognizing that both sides have strengths, and by identifying both sides’ points of view and the areas in which they overlap,” as described by Francisco Moreno, executive director of Espoir, a GP partner in Ecuador.

What does our partner selection process look like?

To select the highest performing partners, we employ a very rigorous process that is rooted in answering the following question:  does this organization match the profile we are seeking?

The ideal GP partner has:

1. strong social impact;

2. alignment with one or more of our four impact areas (health services, green technologies, rural livelihoods and microentrepreneurship); and

3. a sustainable business model.   

Identifying potential partners

Finding partners that match all of our criteria can sometimes be challenging, but in order to achieve the social impact we seek, we put on our “dreamer” hat and believe that everything is possible. When we find potential candidates, we then take that hat off and get down to business, because “a dream without a plan is just a wish.”  

That is to say, once we narrow down potential partners, we conduct field visits to systematically and critically analyze the organization to determine if they are truly a good fit. A typical field visit lasts one week and involves a(n):

1. Interview with the social program manager to learn:

  • how extensive the program is;
  • if its business model is or has the potential to be market-sustained;
  • how many people benefit from the program; and
  •  if its reach can be scaled. 

2. Interview with the executive director and a board member to comprehend the leaderships’ level of commitment to the organization’s non-financial programs, and whether or not they are key drivers in the organization’s goals. This interview also helps us determine the strength of the organization’s governance.

3. Interview with the financial manager to validate the organization’s financial performance.

4. Interview with the business manager to analyze the organizations competitiveness against other peer organizations.

5. Interview with the internal auditor manager to inquire about their balance and checks system.

6. Interview with the IT manager to learn if the organization’s information management system is robust enough to keep financial and other essential information organized.

7. Interview with the accountant to learn how accurate the financial statements are.

8. Visit to one or two branch offices to ensure that the credit process and policies are followed as described at the head office.

9. Most importantly, an interview with the clients. They are the best source of information to learn if the organization provides a valuable service—beyond access to credit and financial services—that yields positive and lasting impact.

If the field visit goes well, and we have enough evidence to believe that the organization has strong social impact, is aligned with our impact areas, utilizes a sustainable business model, and possesses strong portfolio quality, we are then delighted to invite them to join us as a partner.  

Interested in becoming a GP partner?

We currently work with organizations throughout 11 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. If you are a social enterprise that works in these regions, have reviewed our impact areas and believe your organization is a good fit, we encourage you to download this PDF and/or visit this link to fill out a pre-application. We will then be in touch with you after receiving your pre-application. If you work in other regions, please continue checking in with us as we continue to expand and grow.

How to become a GP partner

Blog Tags: Caribbean   cooperatives   Latin America   mfi   microfinance institutions   partnerships      

The Credilflorida team having breakfast with Tara and Mark.
We were honored to have a traditional Peruvian breakfast with the team at Crediflorida. It was a great opportunity to learn how the technical assistance provided by Crediflorida helped to improve the productivity and quality of members' coffee crop. Mark Coffey (far left), GP’s chief investment and operating officer, and Tara Murphy Forde (second from the left), GP’s director of fund performance, are pictured. Photo © Global Partnerships.

GP Presents at SOCAP13 — Annual Conference that “Grows Social Good Economy” via Impact Investing & Social Enterprise


by Jason Henning, director of investor relations, Global Partnerships (GP)

UPDATE:       Read our blog post on "3 Things Learned at SOCAP13" here.

As a fund development professional, my weeks are often filled with insular activities that lead to a rather intimate relationship with my keyboard and telephone. My day to day includes reviewing prospect lists, drafting investor reports, and setting up meetings with funders. Please don’t misunderstand me; these are all important aspects of my role at GP, but they often leave me wanting for face to face dialogue and discussion.

That’s why I look forward to real-world meetings and substantive impact investing events. Fortunately for those of us in this sector, the good folks at Social Capital Markets have been hosting the SOCAP conference series since 2008. SOCAP is a gathering of investors, foundations, institutions, and social entrepreneurs “dedicated to increasing the flow of capital toward social good.”  Last year was my first time attending SOCAP, and I can honestly say that the quality of the conference content is equal to the ease with which you can make personal connections. Nearly 2,000 attendees are expected at this year’s event, dedicated to “Accelerating the Good Economy.” Among the attendees is my colleague, Lara Diaconu, vice president, Health Services Fund, who will participate on a panel on how different kinds of public and private sector investments can be used to create positive impact in global health.

The themes for next week’s conference include:

  • Health: investing in health and well-being
  • Oceans: investing in the link between people and planet
  • Communities: place-based innovation and development
  • Meaning: the connection between mission and me
  • Investing: impact investing and philanthropy

From my experience it’s rare for a conference to provide both a platform for rich, meaningful dialogue on topical issues and the opportunity to engage with fellow attendees and practitioners. SOCAP gets this right.

I look forward to sharing anecdotes and insights from SOCAP13 real-time via the GP Twitter account (@GPSocialImpact). I’ll also provide a summary of the event after its conclusion, so please subscribe to our blog if you haven’t already—you won’t want to miss out.

You can attend SOCAP13 virtually by:    

  • Getting live tweets from SOCAP13 via our Twitter page @GPSocialImpact
  • Following the conversation on Twitter with #SOCAP13

 

Blog Tags: San Francisco   SOCAP            

Jason Henning, director of investor relations, will be attending SOCAP13. Follow us on Twitter at @GPSocialImpact for live updates. Also, check back for a follow-up blog on what transpired at the conference.
Jason Henning, director of investor relations, will be attending SOCAP13. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GPSocialImpact for live updates. Also, check back for a follow-up blog on what transpired at the conference.

An Inside Look at the 6th Latin American Forum on Village Banks


Our team returned earlier this month from the 6th Latin American Village Banking Forum held this year in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Wonder what happened? Here’s a photo recap.

Who attended the conference?   

  • Mark Coffey, chief investment and operations officer
  • Lara Diaconu, vice president of GP’s Health Services Fund
  • Ricardo Visbal, vice president of portfolio management

You can learn more about our team here.

Here's what our team did:    

1. Met with current partners that also attended the conference and got updates from them

Monica Hernández de Phillips, executive director of our partner Fundación Alternativa, meeting with Mark Coffey.

Monica Hernández de Phillips, executive director of our partner Fundación Alternativa, met with Mark to discuss their ongoing efforts to incorporate education into their client services. Monica also shared with Mark that, “[We see] Global Partnerships as “distinct” among investors/lenders. [We] believe that GP is the lender that is most aligned with [our] philosophy.”

2. Conducted field visits with partners to see their impact in action

A loan officer (middle) from our partner, Fundación Alternativa, showed a client how to obtain a business permit for her grocery store.

Mark watched as a loan officer (middle) from our partner, Fundación Alternativa, showed a client how to obtain a business permit for her grocery store, pay taxes, and register employees. It’s important for microentrepreneurs to learn how to formalize their businesses in order to stay clear of legal fines for improper business operation. Business education like this, coupled with access to capital, is what enables the clients we serve through our partners to improve their livelihoods in a lasting way.

3. Met new potential partners

Mark speaking to many interested conference attendees that stopped by to learn more about GP.

Meeting new potential partners is an important aspect of our work, because it’s through partnerships that we’re able to serve people living in poverty. Mark spoke to many interested conference attendees that stopped by to learn more about GP.

 

Lara spoke with Dikson Herrera, CEO of Cooperativa El Buen Samaritano in Bolivia.

Lara spoke with Dikson Herrera, CEO of Cooperativa El Buen Samaritano in Bolivia, about GP's health services work.

 

Ricardo (far left) led a round-table discussion about GP’s work .

Ricardo (far left) led a round-table discussion about GP’s work. Attendees were interested to learn about GP, the types of partnerships we’re seeking, and the process of getting a loan.

 

Ricardo (right) speaking with Daniel Taborga, CEO of Porvenir.

Ricardo (right) spoke with Daniel Taborga, CEO of Porvenir, a microfinance institution (MFI) in Bolivia, about the legal regulation challenges that small MFIs face in the country.

4. Moderated a panel called “Sustainable Models of Village Bank and Health Services” 

Lara Diaconu (second from the left) moderating a panel.

Lara (second from the left) moderated a panel, during which Francisco Moreno (left), executive director of our partner Fundación Espoir, shared with the audience his perspective on the value of delivering integrated health services through village banks. “Our alliance with GP has allowed us to focus on how to improve our health program,” Francisco said.

5. Celebrated Latin American culture

Dancing at the end of the conference.

And of course, in traditional Latin American flair, there was dancing at the end of the conference.

 All photos © Global Partnerships 2013

Blog Tags: Ecuador   Fundacion Alternativa   Latin America   VI Foro Latinoamericano de Banca Comunal   village bank   

“[We see] Global Partnerships as “distinct” among investors/lenders. [We] believe that GP is the lender that is most aligned with [our] philosophy.” -Monica Hernández de Phillips, executive director of GP's partner Fundación Alternativa. Photo © Global Partnerships 2013.
“[We see] Global Partnerships as “distinct” among investors/lenders. [We] believe that GP is the lender that is most aligned with [our] philosophy.” -Monica Hernández de Phillips, executive director of GP's partner Fundación Alternativa. Photo © Global Partnerships 2013.