Each of us have the capacity to be change makers in a world that is certainly not devoid of inequity. Tackling global issues such as limited access to essential services and climate change requires an ecosystem of different actors and financial instruments. Fortunately, the community of change-makers dedicated to increasing the flow of capital toward social good is more inclusive and innovative than ever – from millennials placing more emphasis on aligning their financial decisions with positive change to the concept of “impact”, becoming more integrated into investment decisions across asset classes.
My journey into impact began in nonprofit consulting and management, with deep connections to impactful organizations in emerging markets. I found fulfillment championing social issues, and yet, in a world driven by incentives, I was curious to find a more sustainable approach to catalyzing international development that would tie financial returns with positive social impact. Thus, I was drawn to impact investing, as its purpose is to catalyze market-based solutions that can sustainably solve our society’s most pressing issues.
I sought out the Capria fellowship due to Capria’s well-defined theory of impact and deep collaboration with emerging market local fund managers. My focus was to help raise the $100M Capria Fund and add value to the Capria Network’s $500M+ emerging market fundraising effort. I worked diligently to expand the global LP pipeline, develop tools and databases to optimize ecosystem development, and create capital raising best practices for the benefit of the CN funds. Additionally, I got involved in global strategy by taking ownership of actionable items, such as conducting diligence on potential ware-housing deals and originating relationships with prospective fund managers in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Opportunities to assimilate with the internal Capria team and broader Capria Network were similarly abundant. Through weekly wine-downs at the Impact Hub, late-night dinners during the intensive, and networking events hosted by the Managing Partner’s – I broke bread with emerging market fund managers, catalytic ecosystem players, and my own class of Capria fellows and interns.
After 8 valuable months in Seattle, I applied to work with Edge Growth, a fund manager from Capria’s third cohort, in South Africa and was accepted. Edge Growth was in the process of raising Edge Venture Fund, a $33M growth capital impact fund investing in innovative, scale up businesses in South Africa, which will also leverage Edge’s flagship acceleration programme, 10Xe, and sought capacity to optimize their overall fundraising process. Due to the complex, process-oriented approach Capria employed in their daily investor relations and ecosystem building efforts, I developed skills and techniques to successfully raise capital and communicate with external stakeholders in the private equity space. The challenge was now to apply these skills to the South African market and achieve tangible results.
Although, I encountered challenges inherent to the context of the market, such as raising a South African-only fund in a climate that favored pan-African vehicles, my work developing internal systems to evaluate, track, and initiate relationships with potential LP’s helped bring the fund within arm’s reach of first-close. I also gained significant direct investing experience by seizing opportunities to work with the seasoned Edge investment team. Through sourcing, screening, and diligence, I engaged with and evaluated dozens of promising entrepreneurs on their commercial viability and capacity to create impact, in turn, helping them recognize critical gaps in their businesses and optimize for scale.
Throughout my experiences in Seattle and Johannesburg, I was continually challenged and offered the freedom to seize opportunities for development– something that I attribute in a large part to dynamic, roll-up your sleeves approach Capria has instilled within the entire Capria Network. My fellowship had truly taken me from theory to practice.