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The Five People You Meet in Impact Investing

This work was originally detailed in The Rockefeller Foundation 2012 Annual Report.

At The Rockefeller Foundation, we talk a lot about the critical importance of unlocking private capital to solve the world’s problems, and we’ve invested more than $40 million in building the impact investing field over the past seven years. But too often the conversation focuses on the investor providing the capital, rather than the pipeline of actors that make impact investing possible, or the poor or vulnerable people it’s designed to help.

For our latest Annual Report, we told the story of how one initial investment translated into impact in Latin America. Every journey from investment to impact is different, but as this example demonstrates, it takes a robust ecosystem to make it work. And when it does, the results are transformative. Take a look.



Omidyar Network and The Rockefeller Foundation provided more than $800,000 in capital for the Latin America Impact Economy Innovations Fund Challenge, which invited proposals from organizations interested in receiving support to fuel initiatives aimed at fostering Latin America’s impact economy, specifically by aiding the growth of the impact investing industry and social enterprise sector.


Avina Americas, a local nonprofit that fosters links and partnerships among social business leaders and identifies priority agendas for action that meet the unique needs of Latin America, oversaw the challenge. Avina regranted money to organizations to accelerate market driven solutions for advancing social and charitable goals, such as relieving poverty and promoting sustainable development.


One of the recipients of the Challenge grant was Artemisia, a local non-profit organization in Brazil that looks for and supports entrepreneurs and social businesses with the potential to transform the country, and offers education, resources, incubation and acceleration services to increase their capacity and competency. Through its hands-on Impact Accelerator program, high-potential early stage social businesses undergo a six-month program that builds internal capacity and creates relationships with the investor community.


Programa Vivenda, a startup offering housing solutions for slum communities, completed Artemisia’s Impact Accelerator program in 2011. The company offers “property restoration kits” to alleviate the unhealthy conditions of slum houses and improve structural quality. The price of each kit is up to 65 percent lower than conventional restoration alternatives and can be paid in multiple installments if needed. The kits are delivered within 15 days of a request, rather than the months it usually takes for repair requests to be completed.


The conditions in Ana’s bathroom were deplorable. “My bathroom had no grout,” Ana said, “and the water from the shower was opening up a hole in the ground. Worms and millipedes began to appear in the hole due to the humidity.”

Instead of buying the construction materials herself, and taking months to finish the renovation, Ana bought Vivenda’s bathroom kit, which in addition to restoring the fixtures, greatly reduced the humidity in the room. She now has a clean, safe and beautiful bathroom—free of mold and worms. The picture shows the transformation—and just one of the successes impact investing has helped to achieve.

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