LeapFrog Investments: Insuring Families’ Rise out of Poverty

Trend-spotting is one of the key attributes of impact investors, and LeapFrog Investments spotted a big one: rising demand from emerging middle-class families for insurance against risks that threaten to plunge them back into poverty. LeapFrog Investments is a private equity investor in companies providing financial services for individuals earning between $1.25 and $10 a

Afripads: Keeping Girls in School Every Month

To get a chance, girls need education. But millions of girls in Africa skip up to one school day out of five. One reason: Many can’t afford or don’t have access to the sanitary products they need when they menstruate. At least partly as a result, drop-out rates climb sharply once girls reach puberty. In

D.light: An IPO at the Base of the Pyramid?

    Meeting the needs of emerging middle-class consumers in the developing world will spawn some very large businesses. D.light design, for one, has an ambitious goal: Reach 100 million people by 2020 with its inexpensive solar-powered lanterns. That could be dismissed as just another marketing claim if the company weren’t already more than one-quarter

SolarCity: Rocky Road to Solar ‘Grand Slam’

Successful impact investors see around corners, bank on long-term trends and shrewdly assess risk. Oh, and it also helps to know Elon Musk. DBL Investors, a $225 million impact investment firm  in San Francisco, had all of those factors going for its investment in SolarCity, now the largest solar installer in the country, worth nearly

Media Development Investment Fund: Banking on a Free Press

The Media Development Loan Fund began making equity investments more than 15 years ago. Last year, it finally changed its name to Media Development Investment Fund. The new name also better reflects the broader approach of the “media bank.” It takes more than financing to create strong, independent media companies in chaotic political and social environments.

Revolution Foods: Healthy Food for Healthier Students

Kristin Richmond and Kirsten Tobey faced a fundamental design constraint when they launched Revolution Foods on the site of a former McDonald’s near Oakland, Calif.: About $3 for each lunch served. The UC Berkeley Haas Business School graduates were designing a line of healthy, nutritionally balanced meals for California’s primary and secondary school students, and

Greyston Bakery: A Social Enterprise That Tastes Good and Does Good

Little did you know but that pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream you polished off last night helped create jobs for people who face barriers to employment in a struggling section of Yonkers, outside New York City. Ben & Jerry’s sources its brownies from Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, which turns out