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Letter from Nairobi: Vanity Capital and Vanity Companies

NAIROBI – Here at ground zero for the new era of African innovation, investors are learning what an impact investing “bubble” looks like. Too much money, too few investment-ready companies. Lots of hype, uncertain impact. The city’s start-up scene has been hyped by international media celebrations of catchy and simplistic narratives: women programmers helping farmers,

SevaMob: Convertible Loan to Replicate Health Care Model

Shelley Saxena used capital and intellectual property from his Atlanta-based tech startup to bootstrap the launch of SevaMob, which is building a distribution system for low-cost preventive health services in Lucknow, the Uttar Pradesh district where he was born. Now the Cornell MBA has taken his first outside investment, a $50,000 convertible note from Village

Acumen Fund’s Transparent Experiment

Can impact investing survive the disclosure of impact investment performance? Few impact funds publicly report the operating results of their portfolio companies — even on an aggregated, anonymized basis. To be sure, accurate valuations of social enterprises can be hard to pin down. But there’s also fear that showcasing the real numbers might snuff the

Global Health Investment Fund Lifts Cap on Returns

Impact investors may not always get to have their cake and eat it, too, but they at least want to keep open that possibility. The Global Health Investment Fund I, a novel initiative to raise low-cost capital to develop drugs and vaccines for neglected diseases, is closing in on its interim fundraising goal of $50

Impact Investors Are Different

With 60 new impact investment funds created last year (up from 44 in 2010 and 20 in 2009), there’s an emerging body of knowledge about what works for limited partners, fund managers and investment advisors, not to mention the investees who actually deliver the impact. Nearly three dozen fund practitioners shared their insights with Cathy

Rockefeller’s High-Impact Investment

The provenance of the term “impact investing,” according to the official founding myth, was a 2007 gathering of leaders on Lake Como, high in the Italian Alps, at Bellagio, the Rockefeller Foundation’s spectacular retreat center. The group reconvened the next year, and Rockefeller’s board approved a $38 million impact investing initiative. It was not quite