Impact investing is a growing field, not only in Washington, DC, but around the globe. That point was no more clearer than a standing room only crowd where the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) joined together to discuss the impact of investments in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In the District of Columbia, DC Net Impact is one of the many organizations that looks at changing lives one investor at a time, but also find a way to do things differently. A few of the conference attendees are familiar with DC Net Impact and other local impact investment organizations.
One session entitled, “Impacting Investing in Latin America and the Caribbean,” was moderated by Luther Ragin,Jr., CEO of GIIN. This particular session had an impressive list of speakers:
- Jorge Rubio Nava, Regional Director for Citi Microfinance
- Alejandro Villanueva, Regional Director for the Kellogg Foundation’s Latin America and Caribbean Programs
- Gerhard Pries, Managing Partner and CEO of Sarona Asset Management
- Bernardo Guillamon, IDB’s Office of Outreach and Partnerships
How do you raise the profile of Latin America and the Caribbean to those who might be turned off to doing business in the area? was a question asked by Ragin.
“Most of the time if I mention impact investment, people are either confused or turned off,” Pries said. “Sadly, I don’t have a pure answer on the issue.”
Impact investing is profit-seeking investment for social and environmental good. Impact investors tend to move beyond “socially responsible investment,” which focuses primarily on avoiding investments in harmful companies, and instead seek to actively deploy capital in businesses and projects that can provide solutions at scale (The DC-based Aspen Institute is a supporter of this idea).
Ragin then asked the panel, “How do I plug in? How do I partner with someone who’s had success in this area?
Nava said that Citi partners with many businesses and agencies. On the agriculture sector they partnered with a business that wanted to produce sunflower seeds directly in Latin America. “We helped with financing theventure and education of the health benefits of sunflower seeds,” he added.
Villanueva said, “If you have a foundation or wealthy individuals, its tough for the fund manager to please everyone. So I think we need to do more of trying to find that common space and makes things easier to connect people to optimistic opportunties.”
Guillamon said, We [IDB] are very positive about our growth in Latin America. Sometimes it takes time to find the right risks and the right investments when moving forward. The challenge is reaching local investors.”
IDB’s executive vice-president Julie Katzman, Root Capital CEO and Founder Willy Foote, and Morgan Stanley’s executive director of global sustainable finance Bryan Wagner, were all on had to speak and take questions from the audience.
Even the US State Department jumped on the bandwagon by establishing the Global Entrepreneurship Program.
Latin American related issues seems to have taken a hold of DC politics and discussion. Early Tuesday morning the Organization of American States (OAS) and Inter-American Dialogue held a discussion on the democracy, economic growth and the expansion of the middle class in Latin America. Marta Lagos, director of Latinobarometro; and Michael Shifter, president of Inter-American Dialogue spoke at the OAS General Services Building.
IDB, 1300 New York Avenue NW, about two and a half blocks from the White House and Department of the Treasury, and the conference will run through Thursday.
You can learn more about IDB by checking out their website at: http://www.iadb.org’.
You can learn more about OAS by checking out their website: http://www.oas.org.