Building an Impact Portfolio – MIT Social Entrepreneurship Alumni Group (SEAG) Webinar

Building an Impact Portfolio – MIT Social Entrepreneurship Alumni Group (SEAG) Webinar


>>Hi, I’m Whitney Espich, the CEO of the
MIT Alumni Association and I hope you enjoy this digital production created
for alumni and friends like you.>>Hi, everyone. Welcome to today’s webinar.
My name is Sayuri Sharper and I am the president of the social
entrepreneurship alumni group. SEAG Is part of MIT Alumni Association
Group and today we are having a webinar that is part of our
series for impact investing in
the topic of the day’s key factors to building and impact
portfolio. I am pleased to have Alex, regional director of impact
assets and Jo, joining us today.
Originally we were going to have the CEO of impact asset to speak
but he had a last-minute personal emergency and we are
very happy that Alex can take his place today.
Since we have a limited amount of time andtwo great speakers, I’m going to keep the impact
short and also let the speakers introduce themselves.
The format of the webinar is, I’m going to give everyone a
brief intro on what SEAG is and then I will turn the
presentation over to Alex, who will talk for 15-20 minutes and
then pass it onto Jo for her presentation.
For any Q&A, please go ahead and input them.
You should see a Q&A button on your Zoom screen and we will
take these Q&A at the end of both presentations.
All Q&A will be at the end. You can type it in.
There will not be any live Q&A. Please type in questions as you
have them and we will go through as many of them as we can at the
end of the presentation. By the way, this webinar will be
recorded. You can either rewatch it.
Links will be sent to you. You are also welcome to share
them with anyone else you think might be interested in the
subject. So, here is our mission of SEAG.
We are basically an alumni group and our goal is to create a
community around MIT that supports social entrepreneurship
including current students, staff, alumni and others that
desire to be part of our community, in support of social
entrepreneurs who are devoting their talent to this effort of
creating a better world. This year, we are sponsoring two
webinar series. There is an investor track and
entrepreneur track. In September, we had our first
investor track, what is it? Impact investing.
Today is our second one. There will be another one in
February and April. Please watch for announcements
for that. We are also conducting entrepreneur track, the first
one was in October. The topic was starter diet for
social entrepreneurs. In January, we will have our
second which is titled, early journey: from concept to pilot.
We have two great lineups. One is Rebecca.
Also watch for announcements for that, which will be going out
shortly. March, is how to prepare and
may, how to negotiate with seed investors.
If you know of any social entrepreneurs who may benefit or
even if you are a potential or current investor and are curious
about social entrepreneurship,
please check those out. This is my last slide, encouraging everyone to get
actively involved. We started the alumni group late last year and this is our
second year. This year, we are focused on webinars and kind of building
the community. Next year, we hope to do more,
including more in person local gatherings and more ad hoc
discussions between members. If you are interested in helping
out, please contact Esthe r, our
VP of finance and operations for any volunteering opportunities
and be an active participant with us.
Then the last slide is how to join SEAG if you are an MIT
affiliate, you can join us through the alumni Association
web link. You can also join us on the
LinkedIn group, which allows us to have better communications
with each other. Since all these are open to the
general public, if you can’t join us through the MIT Alumni Association website, we
encourage you to join us through the LinkedIn group.
Your contact, if you have any questions or problems is our VP
of communications. With that intro, I would look to
turn it over — like to turn it over to Alex. Alex, it is yours.
>>I will share my screen.>>Let me stop share.>>Great. Can everyone see the screen?
Perfect. Thanks, everybody. I just wanted to thank you
again, Sayuri, for setting this up and also the SEAG group. It is a pleasure to speak to
you. I will talk about bringing impact investing to life.
One of the things we will talk about is, impact assets was
created with the idea that people should be able to invest
philanthropic assets into impact investing.
I will show a little how we work.
We focus on making it easier for clients to invest across all
asset classes and into any themes they are most interested
in. Before we get started and
specifically how we create portfolios, it is important to
create the structure of how we do it. DAF’s can exist to impact
catalyze investments. Your traditional fund starts
with a philanthropic contribution into the giving
fund. The giving fund is a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit through impact assets. We allow clients to make grants
and gifts to any other organization as they see fit.
That is a 501(c)(3). The difference on our side is we
say, every dollar not being granted out by you, the client,
should be invested for positive impact.
We have a strong number of impact investing options.
As you will see here, really, it is essentially that we manage
private foundations. For example, the Jane Smith
fund. Let’s say for example, $100,000.
At any point, Jane Smith could recommend a grant from this
donor advised fund but in the interim, hopefully, we will have
it invested so it is having positive impact.
That is very important to us. Hopefully, that means there will
be impact on the granting side and investing side so all your
philanthropic assets are having a positive impact.
Just a brief introduction to us by the numbers.
We are $1.1 billion. We will see what that ends up
being at the end of the year as this is a busy time for people
contributing or opening donor advised funds.
That is across 1300 different accounts.
We have made 6500 grants in 2018.
We have been around for 10 years. As you will see on the left,
2019, 125 private deals so that is everything from seed stage
investment to social enterprise to multimillion dollar
investments to funds. Our entire portfolio, we have 675 impact investment positions.
When our clients come to us, we want to help them on their
impact investment journey. You may have heard that term
before. Different terms have different
definitions. For us, it means working with
clients on strategy. On that side, we help them with,
what is their thesis? What do they really care about?
What do they want to have an impact on?
We work on the realization. At that point, now that you know
exactly the type of impact you want to have, let’s make a
roadmap, create strategy implementation and also make
sure we have portfolio administration.
Finally, once we have the client invested, we take a look at the
evolution of their impact. We are taking a look at their
impact reporting, annual portfolio checkup.
The reason for that as we think it is important that clients
begin their impact investing journey but don’t necessarily
have to feel like they need to be exactly where they would like
to be in the first year of opening the account.
This could be something where they evaluate their account and
grow and change the investment options over time. To start off,
we have mapping the impact thesis.
We really like to use the sustainable development goals so
the client, we can work with the client and they can say
specifically, here are the five themes we are the most
interested in working on. Once we have those themes, we
will work on strategy. We say, you have your impact needs and your investment needs.
When we put those together that creates a fully custom impact
investing strategy. As you see, you might say, with
my cash for alternatives, I can work on affordable and clean
energy and life on land. Where is on the others you could
say, with your philanthropic assets, you could do catalytic
capital. Maybe it makes the most sense to
make a grant to support these? We want to make it so across
your entire spectrum of impact investing, you have a strategy
for one your assets will be working on — for what your
assets will be working on. Impact realization, we go all
the way from model impact portfolios to direct investing.
When it comes to model portfolios, we set them up so
these portfolios can be almost a turnkey solution to impact
investing all the way from liquid options.
If you know you want to keep your account ready for granting,
to a more aggressive portfolio on the right-hand side where it
will be investing in private equity, private debt and
different investment, real estate investment options.
Some of the examples we have listed here, you will see these
are on the public market activity.
You can take a look at these. We want to make it easy so
people can have either people focus Our Planet focus within
the public portfolio. We get excited.
We have also worked to create our community investment
strategy. We have made it so within all
our portfolios, we want to leverage our private debt fund
managers like impact capital, community investment management,
to create essentially a portfolio that will return 2.2%
to 2.5%. Within your own portfolios, you
could have high-impact private debt investment options that
will generate deep impact. On our impact funds, what we
make sure is, we make sure within a clients portfolio, for
$10,000, they could choose each of these investment options.
Oftentimes these funds have high minimums, anywhere from $250 to $1 million.
For us, we try to make it so we have a $10,000 minimum for each
one of these. This gives you the ability to
invest in these different funds and asset classes across the
different goals. For a portfolio, let’s say, $100,000, you could have $10,000
investments in each one of these funds.
These are a rotating list of funds.
Anywhere between 6-12 of these investment options and they go
across asset classes and impact themes.
What we then do is, we work with clients to say, let’s confirm
what the impact was we had in that year.
Let’s assess what we would like to be doing if it met goals, if
we reached the impact we wanted and let’s adjust your portfolio
on an annual basis to make sure you’re reaching goals or
obtaining new goals. As I said before, impact investing journey is a roadmap
evolving over time. As you will see, dear one,
someone joins us, let’s put you in those impact portfolios to
immediately have impact. Over time, you three, you can
keep making those specific impact investments into private
funds and direct investments so that by the third year, those
impact portfolios can still be useful for things like
liquidity, granting or additional investments but you
are having deep, direct impact through your portfolio.
What we have here can be a little daunting.
It is meant to show the spectrum of impact investing you could do
through your donor advised fund. In the middle is our direct
investments.Our clients have made investments in things
like impact alpha, impact hub. The builders fund.
Beyond meat was one of our investments.
Sweet green, those will be direct investments recommended
by clients that can be made through the donor advised fund.
Then we have our private funds. These are different funds our
clients have invested in through their donor advised funds.
Eco-Enterprises,, root capital, re-think impact.
These are private equity funds our clients are easily able to
make investments from. Finally, our impact portfolios.
We set these up so that for our clients that might be busy or
may not be at a certain point in the journey where they know they
want to make these direct investments, they can know they
are making direct impact through their impact portfolios.
I went pretty quickly. I wanted to make sure we are
covering this entire journey. The main point I want to make
today is that, for us, the impact tourney for appliance is
very important. The term has been used before
that impact investing is not something that should only be
done with philanthropic capital, but for us, hopefully all
philanthropic capital is invested for positive impact.
We try to do this at different
asset levels and different types of investments but hopefully by
looking at this you can see how by using the goals and a
consistent evaluation a portfolio, a client is able to
make the type of impact they feel comfortable with and that
really meets their impact goals. That is going to be it on my
end. I think it is going to be Jo ‘s turn.>>Jo, take it from here.>>I like your focus on that evolution of the portfolio and this ongoing journey.
I’m going to focus on building and impact portfolio.
We can use this as a case study, what we have learned along the
way, where we began and where we are going.
In terms of mapping this globally, a lot has changed.
2001, I am based in Nairobi.
Three impact funds across East Africa.
Now there are at least 85. Closer to 90 as of today.
There is a lot. The spectrum has grown.
When we begin, 2001, it was a novel idea.
There were not many players. For us it was, how do we position ourselves to be truly
catalytic and tackle property? Investing in innovative
companies that are really tackling poverty?
The traditional way of investing would not work for a lot of
people in the countries where we operate.
We came up with the concept of patient capital.
We would then make a debt or equity investment in a social
enterprise, investing over a
7-12 year period and then that money would be invested back
into the fund. That is where we begin.
Since then, we have been able to put in $124 million in 122
companies. A key figure for us is the
tricky lives impacted. 263 million.
Our other goal was that we were going to make bets on risky
companies that have proof of concept but have not figured out
how to scale and work around customer acquisition and the
dynamics and market weather in India, Pakistan, Kenya or
Columbia. They key litmus test for us was,
once we go in and help the company set up, what can we
attract? Our initial goal was for every
dollar we put in, we want to see % 5x. We are now around 8x.
What do you bring to the table beyond capital?
The impact for us, and I’m going back to lives impacted data.
2018. You can see the mapping and how
we try to be analytic in terms of, we use a lot of data
analytics to understand who has been impacted by our companies
but also make adjustments. Agriculture decreased the amount.
[INDISCERNIBLE] One of our companies in West
Africa really scaled in fintech. It has grown significantly.
The other thing for us is being really clear about who is
benefiting and who are these individuals?
Having a clear line in terms of $3.2, the poverty line, we have
a $5.5 poverty line for Latin America, then $35.3 in the U.S., poverty line.
Due diligence is for each potential deal, really
understanding when we look at demographics, how many people
are living beyond that poverty line in that market and how many
are above? Why does that make sense?
How do we make it sustainable so companies can still grow but at
the core of it, are they really pushing their strategy and
impact? That is for us. That is where we stand.
That is not everyone’s focus. It is really understanding,
where do you want to play? What do you want to forge
through beyond what your returns will be and how you hold
yourself accountable? Investing is a means, not an
end. With that, we recognize the most
impactful place for us, that middle section.
The grant side, the blueprint and ideation.
Investment readiness side, where we find most impact funds right
now, where, after UD risk the venture, they are ready to
accept more traditional capital and this dream, the high-impact
and high return. Since we are raising
philanthropic dollars, we want to be truly catalytic and going
into the value of debt area. We have also realized that
Pioneer capital, if we look at the investment spectrum, we
raise philanthropic dollars, invest in a company, we realize
that once companies d e-risk and
are ready for more traditional investors, we thought the 10-12
year period would be sufficient but a lot of them struggled
finding who would really back to them and finding investors who would take a longer journey and
work with them. We have a number of sister funds
that raise, just the way a
traditional investor would raise capital so that we are looking for market returns and also peg
benchmarks. We think about that in terms of portfolio teams carry and we
consider that in terms of how we tranche the different sizes and
relate to the company and think about investment.
We will continue to play and that philanthropic.
The sustainable, responsible traditional investing side is
more to traditional market returns, is somewhere where we
are not right now. It has been a process in terms
of starting that Pioneer capital and realizing we need to work
beyond that space to continue to build companies we started with.
This is what it looks like for us right now. We began with $124
million in the Pioneer portfolio.
We now have, 2020, we will be launching an education fund in
East Africa and India, promoting education.
It is a $10 million fund, a recoverable grant, different
from our initial Pioneer fund where this will be recoverable.
We also have a $50 million AG and climate resiliency fund.
What is unique about this, it is set up, $25 million first loss
and the remaining is in equity. That allows people who have been
skittish in agriculture, a number of variables involved in
the idea of having a first loss has brought in more players.
That is to make more risky bets and build companies and de-risk
them so they can be ready for traditional investors down the
line. We have a $68 million off grid
energy fund in East Africa and the play behind this is building
on pioneer work. That is more of an equity play,
looking at more traditional returns rather than the Pioneer
fund. In Latin America, we have an
early growth fund. That is also set up to be more of a traditional fund with an
equity play. Now, I put in an example here
because it is to dive into that philanthropy versus investment.
One of our early and best ease was D.LIGHT. The first money was a $200,000
grant. That was R&D. Solely for them to figure out,
how would they make solar products that would work for low
income communities. At that point, the price point
was off and it did not work for our poverty.
— our poverty focus. During that time, we put in $5 million.
What was remarkable to see, with $5 million, they have been able
to have 25 million products in 60 countries reaching 97 million
people. Versus, if it was a grant, the
investment would have really been 167 solar lanterns benefiting 135 people.
If you are being really generous in terms of how many lanterns or
solar home systems were impacted — the ratio of one to seven.
On the backend and this comes back to when you think about
building a portfolio, for us, we have that $5 million in Pioneer
capital. Our sister fund and other
partners bringing in $7 million in capital, over five investment
rounds, we also had Ac umen
fellows, who either headache engineering or research — who
either had engineering or research backgrounds, so that is
roughly 10 years of human labor provided by Acumen.
We have had three board members and $2 million and technical
assistance. The larger picture is so much
more than the dollars we put in to get there to really build a
portfolio we want and ideally what is at stake to do this for
each company we back, we really focus on that impact we are
trying to achieve. Think of it as a continuum.
We have our Pioneer, $5 million that came in.
Then now having $65 million fund
that is really making the larger bet on the de-ris ked company.
Our Pioneer initiative is the $22 million philanthropy backed
initiative. That is the dance we are trying
to do with this in terms of how do we bring in the pipeline of
really innovative companies and how do we set them up for
success in more traditional markets?
That comes to the right capital at the right time.
What is next for our capital and what we are thinking is, we want
to go earlier in the Pioneer gap.
Over the last three years, we have moved later with setting up
sister funds. When we think of more inclusive
business models, what does it mean to go in agriculture and
move beyond simply supporting small farmers to ensuring they
are actually gaining land? Really transforming their family
for generations to come? What does that look like if
you’re thinking about gender lens investing?
How do we begin to be more strategic if we go in earlier
since now we seek to have the other end of this, the later
backed in different ways throughout work?
We want to think about more innovative facilities using
philanthropy or grant as a foundation.
What does that look like? The challenge of, which capital
do you accept, when? As an entrepreneur, everyone has
struggled with it. Using the wrong capital for the
wrong reason. The idea of building insights is
something we want to do in the community. What do we learn?
There is so much we can dive into in times, from deal
structure to fund the structure. What seems to be working in one
geography versus another? How do we build echo systems
that share that? Both and cross the investor
community and the investor community? That is it on my end.
Stop the share.>>Thanks, Alex and Jo. We have a few questions.
The first two are probably for Alex. There is one for Jo.
For attendees out there, please feel free to put in more
questions. Let me read the first question, again, for Alex.
The question is, is this close end or can one withdraw their
funds?>>That is a great question. The way it works is the client
would make an irrevocable gift to impact assets — we are a
501(c)(3) nonprofit, the same as if you give money to the Red
Cross or United Way. You would get a deduction as
soon as you put the money into the account.
What would happen then is completely up to the client.
Our clients can plan on making grants and closing the account
within 2, 3 years or they can say they would want this to be
something that might be multigenerational and that they
could pass on to either their family or other people that they
work with. As far as the investments go, it
depends on what you’re interested in.
We have clients that say I will do a private equity fund with a
10 year lockup. Others want to do a more liquid
option that allows them to grant their money or invest in another
option whenever they would like. It really depends on what works
best for the client.>>The next question, again for
Alex, how do you measure whether an impact investment is moving
toward SDG?>>Really good question.
When we make an investment, we ask the client to say what they
are looking to invest in. When we make the investment, we
ask the investee to list what they are working on.
It is self-reported on that side. We take an annual look at
investments. We also look to make sure if
there is any instance where we feel the SDG they list is not authentic, we would let the
client know as well. There are certain companies that
have started listing SDG’s many people would be saying it is
greenwashing. We are not saying specific
names. We would let our clients know
that we might not necessarily agree with that and we would let
the client know.>>The next question is maybe
forJo and or Alex. Are the philanthropic funds
tax-deductible for donors? Jo?>>I will take that. Yes.
It also depends which country you are in.
Different countries have different rules around this. Yes, the philanthropic funds in
the U.S. and U.K. are tax-deductible for donors.
There is a process. It is fairly simple.>>It is tax-deductible for the
Acumen fund. For the other funds, how does
that work?>>that would not be
philanthropic funds. Our sister funds, those are not
tax-deductible. That just works as a traditional
investment.>>So, maybe while we wait
further questions from attendees, I have a question for
both of you. Maybe Alex first. I want to be an impact investor.
I have all these different options, whether it is
philanthropic capital or core financial funds.
How should I personally think about how to build my impact
portfolio with different types of capital available?
Maybe Alex, you can take this first?>>It is interesting. It is something we work on with
clients. There are instances where
certain people, for example, one client that lets us talk about
it is Seth Goldman, one of the founders of honest Tea.
He started his company and got funding through venture capital,
private debt,,.And private equity he feels very —
he feels very comfortable using those means.
The way he wants to make his impact is through making private
debt and equity investments into other social enterprises.
For him, did make sense and it is easier to create his own
portfolio. He is almost using his donor
advised fund as a venture fund. However, other clients for
example, might be just starting their impact tourney.
In that instance, we have more of the public options or preset
options created by our investments team that our
clients can choose from in overtime, as they become more
comfortable, maybe learning about what a first private
equity investment might look like or joining a fund or
investing through Acumen , what
they can do is overtime they can become more comfortable but for
us it is important people don’t feel necessarily forced to do
one type of investing or the other.
It really depends on the type of impact they would like to make.
One final thing I would say is, depending on the issue they are
working on, we really ask our clients to say, what is the most
useful type of capital? Jo was saying, sometimes it
makes more sense in a certain instance, a grant may be the
most useful type of capital to an industry or company at a
certain point and maybe they could follow along the company
and say, we will start with a grant but as you grow, maybe we
will do a recoverable grant or a line of credit or private debt
all the way to a private equity investment.
Depending on the organization or type of impact they are looking
for, the portfolio can really change and we like it when
clients think about what would be the most useful type of
capital for the type of impact they are trying to make?>>Jo, do you want to answer the
question also?>>I like your answers, Alex.
That idea of, we get this question a lot from individuals
who either want to join our fund
or do it on their own and it starts with understanding both
where you are in your own journey and the impact you want
to have. There is no, go do this. Everyone is on a journey,
whether you have been an entrepreneur or a seasoned
investor in a traditional fund or you’re just starting.
We also like to consider, what are the other dynamics around
this, like family dynamics, especially if you have other
people who would like to weigh in on what happens to that
money? We find in some cases, it is
harder, especially if you have a family office or foundation to
get the buy-in of everyone then it is to lay out an idea on your
own. With that starting point, recognizing the journey and the
possibility of community so you
can begin to understand the different ideas.
There is such a range. There is a lot of hype, also.
The wish of the high-impact-high return is definitely there.
Beginning my understanding, what is the landscape?
Where do I have an edge? A lot of times, when people
invest by impact but find themselves where they know
little about the market, cannot really help the entrepreneur
they are trying to support and two years later feel they have
burned out and don’t want anything to do with it, which is
the biggest risk. What are the strategic steps you
can take even if you are putting your money in a fund, making
sure you are going on a journey and there a lot of personal
growth with the option of, how do I learn more, get more
involved with each year? Versus how do I feel like I am a
recipient with the Newport? Charles Schwab or a large
institution sends me a report at the end of the month or year.>>Next question for Jo.
You mentioned earlier stage investors.
How do you identify and evaluate entrepreneurs you work with or
invest with? What are the characteristics of
a potentially successful local entrepreneur?>>How do you identify the
entrepreneur you work with? Yes. We begin by having teams on the
ground. That is very important to us.
It is not for every fund and not forever investor.
— for every investor. We found in our markets, when we
initially began, using East Africa as an example, we were
working in housing, health care, energy, agriculture and water sanitation.
Very quickly realized, one, we do not have capacity to really
be well knowledgeable and also on the post investment side,
really support entrepreneurs in this market.
The best thing we could do is to narrow down focus to agriculture
and energy in East Africa and go really deep and understand, what
are the needs on the ground? That will then influence how we
are evaluating entrepreneurs. We have been notorious at taking
long due diligence and that is something we are still trying to
work on and improve with the goal of pi the time we make our
investment, do we fully understand what we bring to the
table more than dollars. We really want 5% of investment dollars and up
with brilliant expatriates
rather than local partners. People find it harder to build a
pipeline of local entrepreneurs. If I use energy as an example,
in the pioneer stage, 67% of investment capital in the last
two years has gone to four main companies.
There is a lot of crowding by investors.
What we want to do is be on the ground and make the riskier bets
of getting to know, what are the areas being overlooked, then
really work from that vantage point?>>The next question is for both
of you. How do both of you get the deal flow?>>if our clients come to us
with a specific deal, the client would actually bring investment
to us. They have come from various
sources from clients meeting folks directly at events to
organizations like this one that maybe shares deals people had
done. We have clients that are members
of different organizations such as Tonic investor circle, a social venture club.
It comes from different sources on the client-side.
On our side, our investment team is consistently reviewing the
market and seeing what makes the most sense for our portfolio in
terms of client demand and making sure our clients have the
ability to invest across different asset assess,
different themes and geographies.
Our team is consistently reviewing different funds
available in the space and trying to make sure we have
coverage for all clients in those areas.>>Jo?>>Being on the ground.
We have a team in the Columbia, the U.S., Nairobi, West Africa
we have Nigeria, India, Pakistan. Then, you know, walking the walk.
There is definitely a lot of inbound, which is helpful.
We have co-investors in our area, which is also helpful.
I have to say, all of that then comes down to your investees are
your biggest champions and they will also be able to tell
others, look, if you are looking for this kind of capital, you
should go to this kind of investor.
At the very beginning, before you get there or if you are not
on the ground, definitely, the groups that Alex mentioned,
whether Tonic or SBC, a really
good places to understand the deals in the market.>>OK.
I think this is also for both of you.
What about your organization’ s design other than the generic
genre and focus, helps its work to become infectious?
I’m curious about how you describe your competitive
advantage? Alex?>>Sure.
I would say this, because I believe in it.
Really, the power of impact investing is what makes us, has
made us grow. Across donor advised funds and community groups across the
country there is about $130 billion invested.
However, the unfortunate secret is by a large, most of that
money is not being invested for a positive impact.
It is generally managed by outsourced OCIO’s and other
types of financial advisors where people don’t really think
about what their profit capital is being invested in.
They don’t think about the investments.
The really why we have grown is people have stopped thinking
about their investments is purely being donor advised
funds, as being just about the grants.
They are thinking about the power of using investment
dollars for positive impact as well. I’ve always said this,
ImpactAssets is growing and it is really nice
but I have no interest in it just being ImpactAssets
— it should be across every organization that takes on
philanthropic money, even including endowments.
It is something we try to focus on and help grow.>>Jo?>>Well said, Alex.
Our clear focus on poverty and being able to show the beneficiaries, customers, end users are people living in
poverty and that has meant that we have had to invest in data
analytics and collection to prove that. That has been a key
differentiator for us. The other one is, like Alex, we realize there is so much more
opportunity and we think of ourselves more as the risk taker
and idea generator that will then provide a template for
others to use. 120 formally dollars, we are
barely making a dent. It has been great to see bigger
players and companies that started with us or a model, off
grid solar that previously seemed like, there is no way
this would be viable, now seems viable. We have now moved.
Solar refrigeration, irrigation, solar water plants.
Everyone is backing away from it. How do you make this work?
We are giving ourselves 5-10 years and then there will be a
template that makes this feasible.>>Any other questions from
attendees? Well, while we are waiting for
that, maybe we will give Alex and Jo an opportunity for
closing remarks. Alex?>>I would say, having an
organization like this, where there is excitement around
social enterprise is so important.
One of the things I realize as I go around and cover the eastern half of the U.S. is that it
really helps for people to have a community when they are doing
this. So, I would really challenge
this group, as you are working with each other, think about
what would just be the way you could add value in the best way?
For certain people, it ends up being assets they have.
For others, it may be their ability to mentor social
entrepreneurs. If we can be of any help, that
is fantastic. I think it is very important
everyone focuses on what they have at hand and not just think
it has to be something that could only happen when they have
a certain amount of assets under management or when they have a
little more time — social entrepreneurship is something
that can be supported at any point in your life and at any
point in what you’re doing with your time and money.
Organizations like Acum en,
supporting them is so important because they are the ones that
make it possible so that a larger fund might say, we should
really focus on this. They are leading the charge.
Anyway you can support an organization like there’s is a
good one.>>Jo?>>Thank you, Alex.
I am a big fan of ImpactAssets . On that note, the number of
partners we have talked with, thinking about building
portfolios, the idea that this is a continuum and it will take
all of us is definitely not lost on me. With the D .LIGHT, the founders
would be the first to say , the
part about community is key. We have also seen, at times people feel overwhelmed with
everything in the space and how you begin to distill it.
There is also this pressure you must find, the perfect approach.
I would say just start summer. Just start somewhere and go on
the journey. The matter what, for all the
problems I discussed, we have many failures.
We could do a session on failure. [LAUGHTER]
That is fine. If we don’t start somewhere, we won’t get there.
Most importantly, feel free to reach out.
We would love to get this conversation going and see how
we can help, whether you are looking at new markets or
considering different sectors. Definitely, more than happy to
help.>>Thank you so much, Jo and Alex.
I have to confess that both of them were the first
organizations I got involved with.
This is 3, 4 years ago now when I started my impact journey.
I will second that this type of work is best done as a
community. There is so much learning.
As you start, you learn more. There is more to learn.
Thank you for being here with us.
Thanks to the attendees and hope to see you again at the next
webinar. Signing off. Bye, everybody.>>Thank you everyone. Thank you>>Thanks for joining us and for more
information on how to connect with the MIT Alumni Association please
visit our website.

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

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