Impact enterprises solving the most urgent social and environmental challenges through market-based models are important actors in the socio-development landscape. Geared towards the development of products and services that address the fundamental problems of poverty and sustainable development, they solve social problems by challenging traditions, combining creativity with intelligence.
In the Philippines, social enterprises serving the poor are often pioneers, facing challenges and risks referred to as the “pioneer gap.” These challenges include difficulties in the operating environment, finding resources and raising capital, and growing their business with few investors willing to finance to absorb the risks involved in pioneering new business models. As a result, many of these enterprises fail because of lack of support, not just financial but also mentorship, to enable them to make it to a later stage. Impact investing targets to bridge these gaps.
With the mission to leapfrog the impact entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Philippines, social enterprise incubator xchange has partnered with India’s Villgro. Villgro and xchange have combined decades of experience in investing in impact entrepreneurs to address gaps in the Philippine ecosystem. Villgro is India’s oldest and one of the world’s largest social enterprise incubators. xchange is an incubator in the Philippines that invests in early-stage social enterprises while providing tailored mentorship and support to help them achieve scale. Together, they designed and developed the Impact Pioneer model that would encourage collaboration with other individuals and organizations or “impact pioneers” who believe that entrepreneurship is a key tool in solving social and environmental challenges.
In its first year, the network will focus on building resilience during the pandemic economy by providing a variety of investments including zero-interest loans and quasi-equity through a Resilience Fund, as well as six months of tailored support to build resilience and to adapt their models for a recession year. It is also expected to launch new services for enterprises and impact pioneers, while continuing to grow the network of individuals and institutions and engage the larger ecosystem.
The network’s priority sectors are agriculture and fisheries, climate crisis, education and employment, and affordable healthcare. It will adopt a gender lens in all aspects of its operations and will actively source enterprises which impact the lives of women and girls.
You can learn more about the Impact Pioneers Network here. Also check out this guide on angel investing by infoDev.