Impact investing is a strategy whereby investments proactively seek to create positive social or environmental impact beyond financial return. Increasingly, investors are investing in social for-profit companies in emerging markets to
generate positive impact in sectors like education, health and access to finance.
Over 100 dedicated funds have committed over $3 billion in assets to these goals. Over 100 dedicated funds have committed over $3 billion in assets to these goals. In fact, estimates by the Monitor Group and the Money for Good Initiative suggests that impact investing could mobilize $500 billion annually within 10 years, $120 billion from U.S. retail investors alone. Investable companies and committed funds are growing quickly in emerging markets, primarily India and East Africa……. What about the Middle East and North Africa?
To prepare the ground for such opportunities, Gray Ghost Ventures’ founders are planning to start a Village Capital program in the region. Village Capital (VilCap) uses the concept of the “village bank”, a peer-based self-help group in microfinance, to accelerate and build investable social ventures. In a Village Capital program, entrepreneurs go through a peer support process designed to review and improve one another’s ventures. At the end of the program, entrepreneurs rank one another’s enterprises, and the top-ranked enterprises receive pre-committed investment dollars from partner investors. In other words, it is not a typical business competition, it is very collaborative and the winner is chosen by the participants…which means the participants have to be very strong and “competitive” in the first place.
Studying the feasibility of such a program in the Arab World for Gray Ghost Ventures was one of my major projects this summer, and by far, the most interesting and enjoyable. Meeting with investors and social entrepreneurs, finding the better formula to fit the region, and starting relationships with potential partners were my daily activities in Tunis, Cairo, Dubai and Beirut.
For Village Capital: despite challenges, the opportunities do exist, particularly in Egypt and Lebanon. Based on my contacts, recommendations, and market research, two other collaborates will take over the project for the fall and updates will be post here for sure.
For me: I’ve just moved to Kigali, Rwanda, to develop the first Business Confidence Index in the country…but this is another story 🙂