|Grassroots Capital Management (GCM) is an impact investment manager based in the US. Grassroots’ mission is to help eliminate poverty and strengthen communities through investments in small and micro businesses, affordable housing, sustainable agriculture and affordable education, in both developing countries and the US. Together with its India based partner, Caspian Advisors, GCM and its predecessors have launched five Microfinance funds since 2003. Currently GCM and Caspian co-manage four Microfinance funds; Fund Details.
Caspian and Grassroots work closely together on project development and management, sharing staff and resources between their New York, Massachusetts, Hyderabad and Delhi offices. For more information about Caspian please visit Caspian’s web site.
India’s newly elected Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has just announced an ambitious plan to make the country 100% financially inclusive by 2018. Today, only about half of the adults in the country are estimated to have a bank account. Vishwanath Prasad (GCM partner, and Managing Director of Caspian Impact Investment Adviser, India) feels such an ambitious goal can become a reality
. To hear his detailed thoughts on this issue see his recent interview in India’s leading business magazine, see article.
- Grassroots has been re-certified as a B Corp; Grassroots was first certified in 2009 and became a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) in 2013. The B certification and PBC corporate form have been developed to help distinguish and support companies that incorporate social and impact objectives alongside financial performance. Companies are rated along dimensions that include Governance, Workers, Community and the Environment. The PBC form is intended to provide managers and directors a firm basis for pursuing these objectives even when they may require some sacrifice of financial profit. Grassroots’ B Corp Profile is available here. The B Corp Champions retreat will be held in Burlington VT this year Oct 7-9. Paul DiLeo will attend for Grassroots.
- Anna Kanze, Grassroots’ Manager of Investments and Social Performance, will attend this year’s Microcredit Summit in Merida Mexico, Sep 3-5. The Summit will focus on how microfinance can strengthen its outreach to the poor and enhance its effectiveness as a tool for ending poverty, themes which are integral to Grassroots new “Impact First” initiative (see below).
- Grassroots’ Program Associate, Alana Heath, is also the Founder and Project Manager of the Alta Solar Project which works to provide a practical and affordable solar lighting option for the poorest residents of remote Ladakh, India. Alana has just completed the follow up work for the pilot phase of Alta Solar Project in Ladakh during a month long mission. The results from the pilot showed a high level of success with all the homes using their solar systems on a daily basis. Only 2 of the 40 systems had malfunctioned and OrbEnergy has analyzed the issues and repaired the systems to return to the families. Most notably, the results include positive health effects from the decreased use of kerosene and a significant monetary savings. For more information please visit Alta’s website.
- Grassroots has been engaged to undertake an assessment of the governance practices and experience of AfriCap. Launched in 2001, AfriCap was one of the first class of microfinance equity attempting to build on the experience of Profund (1995-2005) and was the first microfinance investment fund focused exclusively on, and based in, Africa. Grassroots is examining how AfriCap’s governance function both contributed to and hindered the fund’s successes and shortfalls with the benefit of subsequent work developing governance “best practices” for the microfinance sector. The results of the assessment will be presented at the November meeting of the Financial Inclusion Equity Council (FIEC, formerly Council of Microfinance Equity Funds, CMEF).
- Grassroots Capital Management announces the launch of a new global initiative, Grassroots Impact First Investments (GIFI). GIFI will provide equity and quasi equity to financially sustainable MFIs that prioritize their social mission and social value added programs. Initially focused on Latin America and Asia, the fund will also target investments in other geographies. This will be the sixth microfinance fund by Grassroots promoters, Paul DiLeo and Vishwanath Prasad. “GIFI is formed for the purpose of making “Impact First” investments in MFIs globally with a clear social priority and exemplary social performance. The fund management will also collaborate in an ongoing complementary effort to foster the pool of “Impact First” Investors through a medium-term program of investor outreach and education.” said Mr DiLeo.
- Grassroots has posted a summary of the recommendations for increasing access to capital and business development services for U.S. micro and “Main Street” businesses. The set of recommendations was presented on May 7 at the Association for Enterprise Opportunity’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans. The materials are currently being considered by the Micro Capital Task Force to inform their discussions with industry stakeholders and the U.S. Treasury about how to best address the issue of access to capital in the U.S.