Tough Questions about Impact Investing
While the world of impact investing has been growing exponentially, 2019 was a reflection on what is working and what is not. I am excited to see many peers taking stock and assessing the status quo. Impact Washing is a top concern for many players and internal processes and biases are being examined. I had the opportunity to be part of deep introspection by Asian impact investors, asset owners, fund managers and intermediaries at the TONIIC Impact Nights at Jeju Island in November. It was so invigorating to know that many of us had the same thoughts: is the aggressive venture capital approach working in Asia? Do we need more thoughtful, bespoke models for the region? How do we balance the demands of commercial capital to the challenges on the ground in impact enterprise models in Asia? I hope the new decade takes us to the next paradigm in impact investing with Asian players leading the way.
Collaboration Is Everything
I can whole heartedly acknowledge that collaboration is the reason Team Villgro could pull off all the activities we did in 2019. We are so grateful to every single organization and individual who joined hands with us in 2019. It did show us that the true power of collaboration was when we came together for a common good, we were able to support entrepreneurs deeply and create a more robust environment for entrepreneurial activity and impact creation. For 2020, the Villgro team has lined up some incredible partnerships and we believe this will strengthen the ecosystem. My wish for the Philippine impact ecosystem in the new year is for more synergised partnerships!
The Ups and Downs of Raising Capital
This past year, I was fortunate to be part of many discussions with entrepreneurs as they raised capital and navigated conversations with investors. The gap between investors and entrepreneurs is evident and it is not for lack of a common language but rather expectations. Impact Entrepreneurs in younger, smaller ecosystems have the burden to prove that their businesses can scale and can create impact – its double the trouble! Whereas investor expectation is still quite far from where entrepreneurs in SE Asia are today. This makes the process frustrating for both. We need more openness and transparency around investment deals. Both investors and entrepreneurs need to be educated more about each other. Urgent and proactive action is needed to bridge this gap. I hope to see more open conversation around this in the year ahead! On our part, Villgro and our partner xchange hopes to broker this relationship and bring people together in 2020.
Onwards and Upwards in 2020!
2019 saw a big shift in priority for gender equality issues globally and it has been long time coming. From funders, donors, entrepreneurs to institutions, there is a conversation around gender lens and a move towards imbibing gender equality across policies and activities (sometimes with an outside push). At Villgro Philippines, we are gearing up to launch a very special initiative for women entrepreneurs!
As the Philippines ecosystem grows, I look forward to seeing a continuum of support and capital shaping up for impact entrepreneurs, so that as they move from idea to growth – they find the right support at the right time and each supporter providing specific and targeted support! We look forward to collaborating with many players this coming year to continue to build a value chain of support for early stage entrepreneurs and create role models for the regional ecosystem! Look out for an exciting announcement from Villgro and our partner, xchange later this year around unlocking risk capital to test and validate early stage models!
The news of the last few days and months has been the devastating fires around the world from Brazil to Australia. Each and every one of us needs to use a climate lens, not just in our social impact work, but also in our everyday life. I hope we will see a wave of entrepreneurial activity using a climate lens across sectors and that all of us become climate warriors, because our planet needs us.
Shifting Gears in 2020
I need to take a lot of the advice that I give to entrepreneurs and to my family and friends – to take care of myself – my mind, my health. I know by caring for me, I can give my best to my team and stakeholders. Self-Care is important for all of us, it helps us be positive and happy. And that will surely lead to a better, happier team!
So 2020, ready, set, go…