When I moved to Seattle two years ago, I did not know anyone else in the impact investing community. Six months later, I met someone who had moved to Seattle around the same time and wanted to connect with more people in the field. We decided to start having informal happy hours with other local impact investors. In the past 18 months, we’ve had several events, including informational breakfast featuring the head of Program Related Investments (PRIs) at the Gates Foundation. People have shared information on investment opportunities through this local network and have even found jobs. Though it took some effort from my friend and I to start the local impact investing network, the value to the local community came quickly.
The value of networks
Networks take time to develop but are extremely valuable. The benefits of strong, engaged networks are why Capria focuses on partnering with and investing in exceptional emerging market fund managers who inherently understand the value of networks. Fund managers from around the world, including Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia have spoken to me about the value of networks and mentorship. For example, two of the top West African fund managers told me how a more experienced manager had mentored them when they were starting and both managers attribute this support as a critical factor to their success. These managers are now helping the next generation of aspiring investors in West Africa.
Unfortunately, support systems like these don’t exist everywhere, particularly in the VC/PE world. Multiple fund managers in African, Asian and Latin American countries with less developed entrepreneurial ecosystems have told me one of the reasons they want to work with Capria is because there weren’t many other local investors where they were based. These investors wanted a global network where they could exchange ideas with like-minded individuals, receive feedback, and continue to learn/grow over time.
How do our fund managers support each other’s growth?
The goal of the Capria Network is to leverage each fund managers’ strengths and knowledge to enhance our collective and individual ability to be successful. We’re taking a tried and true formula to formalize this process so that it is accessible and provides maximum leverage to local fund managers in emerging markets. As with the West African example, each member of the Network will at times be a mentor and other times, a mentee. We all share a mindset of continuous learning and the philosophy that a rising tide floats all boats.
As the Capria Network continues to grow, we have seen fund managers supporting each other in several distinct ways:
- Fund managers have shared their databases of relevant investor contacts with one another and made introductions/shared advice with other network members
- One fund manager in Africa looking to invest in a private school expansion project received advice on deal terms from another fund in Latin America
- A Brazilian fund manager that had completed several clean tech investments gave advice to a Turkish fund manager looking to make an investment in an energy efficiency company
- Teams have compared operating budgets and talked through how to operate more efficiently
- Fund participated in a discussion between the impact lead at Capria and a Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund) portfolio company about incorporating impact into their KPIs and reporting impact to Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund)
Regardless of where you’re operating, being a top tier, world-class investment firm is extremely difficult. When you add emerging markets, impact and first time teams, it is even more challenging. The Capria Network offers an opportunity for fund managers to share best practices and help each other become top global investment firms. At Capria, we partner deeply with each fund manager. By investing in and choosing fund managers who understand and embrace the power of networks, we’ll continue to advance the next generation of impact fund managers in emerging markets – at scale.