NYU Series on Impact Investing: Lessons in Collaboration
In the fourth and final event of NYU's speaker series on impact investing, The Rockefeller Foundation's Brinda Ganguly took part in a conversation on how impact investing brings together diverse institutions to collaborate on specific transactions. The goal of the panel was to offer lessons in cross-sector partnering from the view points of development finance institutions, social investment funds, global banking institutions, foundations, and other participants in the impact investing space. In her role as manager of the Foundation's Program Related Investments (PRI) portfolio, Brinda represented the perspective of philanthropic investors in the discussion.
“Because of the Rockefeller guarantee, thousands of smallholder farmers who wouldn’t have had access to credit otherwise now have access to credit”
Explaining different ways in which the Foundation collaborates with partners when making PRIs, Brinda noted, “Rockefeller is frequently at the top layer of Mitchell’s layer cake,” referring to an analogy introduced early in the discussion by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation's (OPIC) Mitchell Strauss. Strauss likened the financial structure of an investment opportunity to a cake whose layers increase in complexity as you near the bottom, but that starts with a layer of plain “vanilla” debt on top.
“What that enables, frequently, is commercial capital that never would have come into these deals. For example, we currently have a transaction in our portfolio where Rockefeller provides a guarantee to a bank in Uganda. That bank lends to smallholder farmers whom they never would have lent to without the benefit of the guarantee. While it is a simple financial structure, because of the Rockefeller guarantee, thousands of smallholder farmers who wouldn’t have had access to credit otherwise now have access to credit.”
Moderated by Timothy Ogden Interim Director, Financial Access Initiative, the panel's other participants, in addition to Strauss (Special Advisor, SRI Finance), included Mark Berryman of Deutsche Bank's Global Social Investments; Lubna Maria Elia, Director of Legal Resources and Compliance at Root Capital; and Jason Spindler, Managing Director and Founding Partner of I-DEV International.