We are thrilled to report on the Zero Gap Fund (ZGF) portfolio’s impact and demonstrate the power of mobilizing catalytic capital to drive first-of-a-kind solutions to global challenges in 2020. Through innovative investment solutions, including patient and flexible financing, the Zero Gap Fund is helping its diverse and growing portfolio overcome traditional market barriers while delivering impact. The new report highlights the impact of the Fund’s eight investments, including two new additions in 2021 that are showing strong momentum in closing the racial wealth gap in the United States.
Launched in partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and its flagship Catalytic Capital Consortium (C3), ZGF’s mandate is focused on financial innovation – namely, showing how new investment solutions can overcome traditional market barriers to channel critical financing to impact-driven investments at scale and unlock nascent market opportunities long ignored by private investors.
The past year has been a period of unprecedented challenge and dislocation around the globe, yet also a time of resilience and determination. Our collective response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its many ongoing shocks called for fortitude and creativity in the face of unexpected change. We saw that spirit across our partners in the Zero Gap Fund (ZGF or the Fund). By design, the Fund channels private investment toward solutions addressing the world’s most pressing challenges: climate change, inequalities of opportunity, access to critical healthcare, among others.
Through the targeted deployment of patient, risk-tolerant, flexible capital, ZGF focuses on supporting new investment products and mechanisms marrying deep impact with the potential for replication and growth. ZGF portfolio companies were able to deliver on their impact mandates in 2020, despite the many adversities. The impact achieved in 2020 was a welcome reprieve for communities navigating the ongoing pandemic and shows promise for the future sustainability and scaling of ZGF portfolio companies.
Realized impact included:
- LeapFrog expanded its reach to emerging consumers by nearly 23% with investments in companies offering essential services like healthcare and insurance to 221 million people.
- The Forest Resilience Bond (FRB) completed 50% of its total restoration work despite Covid-19 restrictions and the largest forest fire season on record in the United States.
- Sixup emphasized resilience and proactively enrolled its student borrowers into a Covid deferment program.
- The CRAFT fund made its first investment into a solar hydro-panel company and as of December 2020, 5,552 panels were producing at least 1,222,675 liters of water across 48 different countries.
- The Women’s Livelihood Bond 2 directly impacted over 31,000 women, exceeding its target by over 20% and supported their borrowers to successfully navigate Covid-19 challenges.
The ZGF team looks to build off the resourcefulness and resilience of 2020 to identify and support new ways to improve the lives of vulnerable communities and ecosystems around the world. This impact report speaks to the driving motivation behind our work by highlighting the tangible ways the Fund’s portfolio has enhanced lives and broadened opportunities, even in a year defined by uncertainty.
Senior Vice President, Innovative Finance
The Rockefeller Foundation