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Bringing Food Safe Technology in Guatemala: Fair-Fruit & InspiraFarms

Posted By Paula Rodriguez, InspiraFarms, Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Guatemala is now positioned as the world’s third-largest exporter of peas, and indigenous farmers living in the highlands produce 99 percent of these peas.

Guatemala’s participation in the global fresh vegetables and fruits market has required a rapid technological adaptation to changes in food safety requirements. When implemented, these technological adaptations ensure access to high-value and regulated markets such as USA and the EU.

The lack of availability of this kind of technology, such as food-safe cold storage, bulking and processing spaces, has become one of the major limiting factors in the competitiveness of smallholder farmers in export supply chains.

Small and growing agri-food companies and exporters have played an important role in facilitating the compliance of food-safe and quality certification standards of the smallholder production base. This is true in the case of Fair-Fruit, a Guatemalan company, who specialize in fresh fruit and vegetables destined for European markets.

In the past Fair-Fruit had been collecting all their produce from Salamá and transporting it to its main plant in Ciudad Vieja (Sacatepeqez) for processing, a six-hour trip which often resulted in produce spoiling and a loss of revenue.

In 2015 Fair-Fruit decided to place an InspiraFarms satellite Cold Storage and Food Processing Facility (an FP180) at their production site in Salamá. Fair-Fruit hoped to reduce produce spoilage and dehydration due to long distance transportation, as well as save money on their overall processing and transportation costs as their motivation for installing the FP180 at their production site.

According to Miguel Basterrechea at Fair-Fruit, “For many years we’ve budgeted 30% in quality and dehydration carrying the product for such long distances. Cooling down the product and working on quality close to harvest fields can reduce these losses in between 10% and 15%. With around 2,000,000 pounds harvested in a year we are talking of 240,000 more pounds per year, and at a US$0.73 per pound, this generates a net total of US$175,000 per year”.

 

To know more about InspiraFarms visit us at www.inspirafarms.com

You can know more about Fair-Fruit here

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Tags:  Agriculture  central america  Guatemala  inclusive innovation  postharvest technology  small and growing agrobusiness 

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The Changing Face of Impact Investment: Interview with John Kohler

Posted By Patricia Haines, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University, Friday, January 27, 2017
http://www.financingsocialentrepreneurs.com/episode-2-changing-face-impact-investment-interview-john-kohler-co-founder-toniic-global-syndication-network-impact-investors-senior-director-impact/

Podcast: This is an in-depth and comprehensive picture of the state of impact investment today. In this interview, John Kohler, Senior Director of Impact Capital at Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, talks the changing face of impact investing and the growth of new financing vehicles such as structured exits and the demand dividend. John highlights the particular challenges facing social entrepreneurs “crossing the pioneer gap” –the Transformative Frontier–trying to raise capital in the $500k -$1 million range. 

Tags:  impact investing 

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Workshop: Build a Career in Impact Investing

Posted By Ryan Steinbach, Impact Business Leaders, Monday, January 16, 2017

Location: Washington DC, USA

First Round Deadline: February 1

Build a career investing in what matters. The Break into Impact Investing Talent Accelerator is a 3-day intensive workshop in Washington DC for finance professionals and MBA students who want to build an exciting career in impact investing. As impact investing continues to demonstrate its ability to scale social and environmental innovations, investment firms will need a greater number of talented professionals to develop and manage the next wave of impact investment vehicles and funds. From February 18-20, Break into Impact Investing will prepare you for a career in this growing industry by:

  • Deepening your understanding of impact investing in an intensive 3-day workshop taught by leading practitioners from Washington DC-based impact investing organizations. Our practitioner instructors will discuss the industry landscape, provide real examples of impact investment deals, and share their own journeys into the space.
  • Positioning you for success with individualized assessment tools that will help you get clear on your next career move and practical workshop sessions designed to help you stand out in the impact investing hiring process.
  • Connecting you with impact investors based in the DC area who are hiring for open positions. In addition to our line-up of instructors, the workshop will end with a closed networking event, featuring top impact investing organizations in the region.

Break into Impact Investing is hosted by Impact Business Leaders (IBL) – a social enterprise that develops talented professionals into the next generation of leaders in social enterprise and impact investing. Join the 240+ professionals who have participated in IBL’s programs around the world and who are now emerging leaders at organizations such as, Acumen, Village Capital, The International Finance Corporation, and Asia IIX. Only 25 highly qualified professionals will be accepted into this program. If you’re ready to accelerate your impact investing career, apply for our program today. If you know someone who is ready to start investing in what matters, share our workshop and encourage them to reach to out IBL Marketing Director, Ryan Steinbach: rsteinbach@impactbusinessleaders.com

Tags:  impact investing  talent 

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Social Entrepreneurship: A Look Back, A Look Ahead

Posted By Patricia Haines, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University, Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Leaders in social entrepreneurship, from Miller Center, Skoll, Toniic, Acumen, FSG, and more, take stock of 2016, look ahead to 2017.

The cusp of the new year naturally prompts reflection about the past and speculation about the future. Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship invited some leaders in social entrepreneurship and impact investing to share their thoughts about the current state of the sector and some trends they see for 2017 and beyond.

“As social entrepreneurship evolves, we need to continually be creative about how we address our ultimate goal, which doesn’t change—and that’s to discover the best ways to help social enterprises worldwide collectively lift billions of people out of poverty,” said Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., executive director, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University.

Measuring Impact of Social Entrepreneurship

One of the big challenges is how to measure the impact of social enterprises on the communities they serve, as well as how to attribute what factors lead to particular outcomes.

“Is social entrepreneurship really making a dent in the big problems facing the world today? 2017 would be a good time to talk about this,” said Harvey Koh, managing director of FSG.

Sasha Dichter, chief innovation officer for Acumen, oversees the organization’s work in leadership and the spread of ideas, including Acumen’s work in impact measurement, called Lean Data. He said: “In 2016 we saw huge strides and appetite for impact measurement that was fast, cost-effective and useful to entrepreneurs. My belief is that in 2017 we will start to see widespread adoption of Lean Data and similar nimble approaches to impact measurement—and for the first time we will start to hear, at scale, the voice of the customers we are serving.”

“In any given year, financial returns can go up or go down. Up, we feel great; down, awful,” said Adam Bendell, CEO of Toniic. “Measured impact also has volatility, whether you look for social impact or carbon reduction. But values alignment—the process of aligning our investments with our values, across asset classes—that can go up each and every year, until it reaches 100%. And that steady progress is a source of tremendous psychic income to the conscious investor—one that mitigates the emotional volatility of investing and brings lasting joy.”

On the other hand, Lisa Kleissner, co-founder of KL Felicitas Foundation, observed that the notion of impact washing became more prevalent in 2016. Impact washing is when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “impactful” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices or producing investable products that truly deliver positive social and environmental impact. “To avoid impact washing, impact networks such as Toniic become so much more important—to provide clarity on what is and what is not impact,” she said.

One of the “goal posts” that Miller Center and others have identified for benchmarking the impact of social enterprises are the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs, which celebrated their one-year anniversary in 2016, provide specific goals for ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity and well-being for all.

Marshaling Capital from Across the Investment Spectrum

Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), acknowledged the crucial role of financing in the success of social enterprises. She said: “CRS has taken some bold steps to become an active participant in the impact investing landscape, focused on leveraging resources, taking risks in new financing models, and helping to unlock entrepreneurial capital in the sectors and geographies in which we work. We see a number of trends that continue to inform our forward momentum on impact investing, including an increased interest from our traditional donors to catalyze the sector.”

As an example of these trends in impact investing, Woo described a CRS partnership with USAID to develop a fund that will make grants and loans to community organizations in Guatemala’s Western Highlands. This fund will be paired with technical support for communities to develop robust, inclusive development plans and projects—and it will be augmented by $50 million of additional public and private support for the target communities.

“As we move into 2017,” Woo continued, “we are looking forward to new partnership opportunities to create similar innovative financing solutions. We have also committed our own funds to make mission-aligned investments that create sustainable solutions for the poorest and most vulnerable worldwide.”

KL Felicitas Foundation’s Kleissner noted that 2016 saw “a remarkable uptick across the ecosystem in the increase of financial product offerings, impact intermediaries and new capital moving in. Impact investing definitely arrived in 2016,” she said.

To help explore new ways to address the funding of social enterprises, particularly as they scale, Miller Center has identified the “Transformative Frontier,” which spans the entire investment spectrum from approaches focused purely on investment returns to pure philanthropy.

“The trend line for social entrepreneurship has never been more promising,” said Sally Osberg, president and CEO of Skoll Foundation. “Increasingly, investors across the spectrum—commercial, impact and philanthropic investors—recognize the imperative for innovative solutions to societal challenges, knowing that the very future of democracy and free enterprise hang in the balance.”

Focusing on Replication and Taking a Systems Perspective

One potential avenue for making investment in social enterprises less risky, while creating pools of talent to expand the reach of social entrepreneurship, is to replicate validated social enterprise technology solutions and business models.

“We see strong potential in efforts to scale tried and tested models, while reaching deeper into the strongest pools of entrepreneurial talent. That would be great for accelerating impact, and it should also be interesting for investors,” said FSG’s Koh.

KL Felicitas’s Kleissner expressed a new urgency for impact investing and social entrepreneurship: “It has to be mentioned that the recent U.S. election underscored the importance of our work and that we are not working fast enough to solve domestic issues such as lack of access to education and sustainable job opportunities, both of which are key to a healthy democracy,” she said. “The relative ease with which Russia and social media manipulated U.S. voters laid bare how fragile our democracy is. My hope is that in 2017, the fourth sector—the emerging ‘for-benefit’ sector of the economy combining the private sector’s market-based approaches with the public and nonprofit sectors’ social and environmental aims—will strengthen and become a force in healing our democracy.”

Skoll Foundation’s Osberg highlighted the challenges to social entrepreneurship from larger cultural issues: “Knowing the imperative for innovative solutions to preserve the future of democracy and free enterprise, those stakes raise the ante for social entrepreneurship. If social entrepreneurs are to fulfill the promise of their innovative solutions to social challenges, then more social entrepreneurs must be able to demonstrate results at scale, and more investors must be willing to make bigger and more sustainable bets.

“When one adds in populist uprisings in both developed and developing world countries—fueled by globalization, demography, climate change and automation—it’s easy to see just how much more challenging the task of the social entrepreneur becomes,” Osberg continued. “It’s incumbent upon all of us who seek out and support social entrepreneurs to appreciate that their work has become all the more difficult, to step up our commitments and to join forces for the future we know is possible.”

FSG’s Koh emphasized that “we need to move into systems thinking, which is a departure from the impact enterprise approach. As we push to overcome barriers, we realize that what’s needed is bigger than working with just the social enterprises. It also includes governments, societies and other pieces that are part of larger systems.

“The systems people and the social impact people have different starting points and they don’t interact, but they should be connected,” Koh continued. “For example, the world of governments and big bilateral donors and intermediaries might work to improve agricultural markets—a very systemic, top-down approach. Social enterprises might work from the bottom up with individual farmers. It’s difficult to connect these two ends because they live in such different worlds, but we need to tie them together by thinking about the end goals. Is it to get more social enterprises going, or is it to grow more capital, or is it to have economies that are more inclusive?”

“In my mind, the only effective path forward for social entrepreneurship is through collective action that achieves collective impact: identifying and replicating lots of similar innovations, while aggregating a full range of capital and applying it intelligently so that all the efforts add up to making a huge difference,” said Miller Center’s Kreiner.

Miller Center is a pioneer and leader in this field, having started its Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®) social enterprise accelerator programs at about the same time the Skoll Foundation was founded and that Acumen was launched.

“Successful trailblazers see where to go before others know the path,” said Kreiner. “Miller Center has embarked on a number of experiments in replication, new capital approaches, and building a network to spark greater collective efforts across the entire ecosystem. Our hope is that this experimentation, along with thoughtful analysis and continued conversations, will lead to best practices that can be applied to communities in need.

“In the end, this is not just about entrepreneurship or investing or philanthropy,” he said. “It’s also about understanding how societies function, and how societies are affected by ever-changing environmental conditions. The call to action for all of us is to mobilize the capital, the innovation and the passion that will make it possible to achieve our ultimate goal of eradicating poverty on a global scale.”

As Pope Francis wrote in his Laudato Si’ encyclical: “We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis, which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded and at the same time protecting nature.”

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Tags:  CSR  leadership  Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship  Skoll  Social entrepreneurship 

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Kigali Farms & !nspiraFarms partnered to bring the first solar powered cold storage plant to Rwanda

Posted By Paula Rodriguez, InspiraFarms, Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Worldwide the mushroom industry is valued at US$20 billion, and in Rwanda the national government has been promoting the cultivation of mushrooms both for their economic potential and nutritional value.

Laurent Demuynck, CEO and Founder of Kigali Farms in Rwanda, started the social enterprise in 2010 with the twin goals of massively improving nutrition in rural areas and supplying high value produce to urban markets, domestically and as exports to the East African Community and beyond.

Says Demuynck,“our new button mushroom facility positions us to be the leading mushroom supplier in East Africa, with quite possibly the best button mushrooms produced anywhere in Africa. At the same time, our Kigali Farms team is driven to make oyster mushrooms the cheapest and easiest to grow source of protein for thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of smallholder farmers. Africa produces three times less commercial mushrooms than Australia, and we want to change that”.

The company started by producing and selling oyster mushroom growing kits for farmers and more recently using locally sourced wheat straw to grow fresh button mushrooms, which provide attractive margins in international markets. Kigali Farms has also begun to move further up the value chain, producing mushroom powder, which is used to fortify food products, and developing various packaged products, such as soups and sauces.

In 2015, Kigali Farms partnered with !nspiraFarms® and PSDAg* to bring the first solar powered cold storage plant to Rwanda as a cost-effective, reliable and low-carbon method to reduce post-harvest losses, maintain high quality and increase shelf-life of the mushrooms.

As Kigali Farms grows, it is engaging an increasingly large community of smallholder farmers. It provides its farmers with a combination of education and capacity development in conjunction with supplier contracts. With the capacity to process in excess of 250 metric tons of mushrooms per year and annually produce upwards of 300 ton of oyster mushroom growing kits, Kigali Farms continues to extend its outreach to local farmers across Rwanda.

To know more about Kigali Farms: http://www.kigalifarms.com/

To know more about !nspiraFarms: http://www.inspirafarms.com/

 

*The Rwanda Private Sector Driven Agriculture Growth (PSDAG) is a 5-Year project funded by USAID

 

Tags:  Agriculture  small and growing agrobusiness  smallholder farmers 

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Asset Finance: An Opportunity for Small & Growing Agribusinesses

Posted By Paula Rodriguez, InspiraFarms, Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Asset Finance: An Opportunity for Small & Growing Agribusinesses 

Asset financing has emerged as a promising new model for agricultural finance attracting a growing number of investors to the sector. However, small agribusinesses in developing countries still face significant challenges accessing investment capital, including unrealistically high collateral requirements and unaffordable interest rates. With traditional financial institutions providing less than a sixth of the $200 billion required to fund smallholder agribusiness globally, how can small agribusinesses ensure they are best positioned to attract investment and financing? Moving the Needle: Critical Success Factors for Scaling Asset Finance outlines the factors critical for success. To access the full report developed by !nspiraFarms - http://www.inspirafarms.com/articles-publications/

Tags:  Access to Finance  finance  smaholder farmers  small and growing agrobusiness 

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New White Paper: Total Portfolio Activation for Impact, A Strategy to Move Beyond ESG

Posted By Patricia Haines, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University, Monday, November 28, 2016
Updated: Monday, November 28, 2016

Foreward by Thane Kreiner, PhD, Executive Director, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship

 

Capital investments are crucial for social enterprises to scale their impact. That’s why impact investing is an important aspect of our work at Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Our efforts supporting social enterprises to eradicate poverty, address the negative impacts of climate change, and economically empower women require the mobilization of capital specifically intended to generate positive social and environmental impact—in other words, impact investing. 

 

John Kohler, senior director of the Impact Capital team at Miller Center, in conjunction with leaders at KL Felicitas Foundation, Toniic, and other organizations, have pioneered strategies that enable impact investors to mobilize capital to all asset classes—meaning their full portfolios—with the intention of generating social and environmental returns. The Total Portfolio Activation for Impact strategy outlined in this white paper lays out an investment approach for investors committed to generating positive social or environmental impacts while also maintaining competitive financial returns. 

 

This strategy represents only a sliver of the spectrum of impact investing, but this thin slice contains the vast majority of capital available through existing investment vehicles. We hope that by sharing this work and putting it into the public domain, our model approach will encourage more individuals, foundations, and wealth managers to invest their entire portfolios for impact. 

 

It is unrealistic, however, to expect that many social enterprises addressing problems of poverty, climate change, and gender inequality will always generate competitive financial returns in any asset class. Even as social enterprises employ earned-income models to reduce the need for contributions, endeavors with deep social and environmental impact are unlikely to sustain themselves on earned-income alone. Thus, in addition to total portfolio activation, it is essential to activate capital along the entire financial return spectrum, from “market-rate” to pure philanthropy. 

 

Miller Center innovates investment vehicles, such as structured exits, in which the financial return can be tuned commensurate with the expected impact. An example is the demand dividend, which can be tuned to yield competitive returns, 100% of capital (i.e., a “roundtrip”), or even a partial subsidy, such as 80% return of capital. The demand dividend thus offers an advantage over philanthropy, where donated money never returns. 

 

As we set free the Total Portfolio Activation strategy summarized in this white paper, Miller Center extends an invitation to those with a passion for social justice: Join us as we experiment with new vehicles for impact investing. Together, we can broaden impact investing into a much bigger movement, mobilizing more capital in those regions of the spectrum that cannot generate market-rate financial return, yet have the greatest potential for outsized impact.

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Webinar: Clean Tech or Green Tech? Working Towards a Sustainable Climate

Posted By Stephanie Buck, Aspen Institute, Friday, November 18, 2016
Updated: Friday, November 18, 2016

We know that dozens of ANDE members are working hard to tackle and prevent the negative consequences of climate change and environmental degradation. This topic was explored at the ANDE Annual Conference and in a recent webinar, focusing on how cutting edge technologies and creative partnerships are working to achieve a more sustainable climate.

If you missed the webinar on November 9th, we invite you to view the recording here.* 

This webinar connected global themes related to impact investment and environmentally sustainable products and technology with the local challenges that ANDE members and partners have faced in specific markets, including Brazil and Mexico.

The webinar featured special guests from WTT and from New Ventures, and was moderated by Kate McElligott, ANDE's Director of Strategic Development. The webinar focused on themes and topics presented in the Impact Inventing: Going Green report released by ANDE earlier this year. We recommend reading the report in order to get the most out of this webinar recording. 

If you have further questions, please feel free to reach out to Stephanie Buck (stephanie.buck@aspeninst.org). 

 

*Webinar password = ande

Tags:  webinar 

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Off-Grid Refrigerator Partnership

Posted By Anne Stewart, Jibu, L3C, Thursday, November 3, 2016

Fellow ANDE Members: if you are interested in applying for the Global Leap competition for an Off-Grid Refrigerator solution,  Jibu would be happy to discuss partnership. While Jibu does not have refrigerator technology, we have a successful sales & distribution model in East Africa implementing innovative water filtration technology. Please email <anne@jibuco.com> if interested. 

Global Leap Awards: Off – Grid Refrigerator Competition.

The Global Lighting and Energy Access Partnership (Global LEAP), in partnership with USAID's U.S. Global Development Lab, Power Africa, and DfID has launched a joint call for high efficiency, low-cost off-grid refrigeration solutions. This call for proposals is part of the 2016-17 Global LEAP Awards Program, and is the first investment focused on stimulating innovation under Scaling Off-Grid Energy: A Grand Challenge for Development. The competition aims to increase the availability of high-efficiency, low-cost, high-demand refrigeration technologies, and in turn drive demand for off-grid solar solutions, such as solar home systems and mini-grids. Submit nominations by January 20, 2017.
For more information, please click here.

Tags:  East Africa  energy  Entrepreneurship  fridge  Jibu  refrigerator  water 

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IGNITE Conference 2016 (Amsterdam - Nov 16th)

Posted By Rosanne van de Poll, Spark, Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, November 1, 2016


We are thrilled to invite you to the IGNITE Conference 2016!


This year, SPARK and International Finance Corporation, have teamed up to bring you an interactive experience on the subject of ‘Tackling Instability, Radicalisation and Forced Migration’.

Entrepreneurs and refugees connected to SPARK’s international offices will be in attendance and offering their personal insights into the importance of education and entrepreneurship for stability in conflict-affected regions.

We are excited to be able to offer some of the world’s leading experts under one roof. For example, keynotes will be delivered by esteemed economist, Sir Paul Collier (University of Oxford), UNDP's Development Response to the Syrian Crisis, Gustavo Gonzalez, Liberian entrepreneur, Mahmud Johnson, and many more. Participating organisations including, UNDP, The Hague Institute for Global Justice, WO=MEN and the University of Mosul.

Discussions surrounding specific topics, such as 'How to Promote Sustainable Investment in Fragile Countries', 'The Impact of Women and Social Enterprises', 'Libya: How to Move Forward', 'Peace Building Effects of Employment in the MENA Region' ‘The New Pioneers: Diaspora Entrepreneurs’ and 'Rebuilding Syria', will be explored in intimate workshops led by industry specialists throughout the day.

The conference will be held at Beurs van Berlage in the heart of Amsterdam, on Wednesday 16th November, 2016. Please click here for tickets! : https://spark-ignite2016.eventbrite.com

Speakers and programme updates will be available on our website (http://www.spark-online.org/get-involved/events/ignite-conference-2016/), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/events/860542774081315) and Twitter (@SPARKorg)


We look forward to welcoming you to #IGNITE2016.

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Tags:  #IGNITE2016 

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