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Impact Investing: A Innovative Force in Angel Investing and Development

By Emily Ziethen | Thu Oct 15 2015
RENEW's Tom Scriven and Laura Davis participated in the National Angel Capital Organization 2015 Summit and Social Capital Markets 2015 Conference last week. Read their reflections on their unique experiences below:
The NACO 2015 Summit was both an eye opening and affirming experience. It was a pleasure to spend time with Canada’s vibrant angel investing community and to witness how investors increasingly are seeking out and finding opportunities to realize attractive financial returns while achieving social impact, as a component of their investment strategies. Amidst conversations on structuring exits and valuation of early stage companies, angels attended over five hours of sessions devoted to impact investing during the two-day summit - further evidence of the growing interest in this dynamic field among North American investors.
In the midst of the many interesting panels and keynote speakers, like “super angel” Dave Berkus and serial entrepreneurs Leonard Brody and Dan Debow, I caught a quick drink with Marianne Hudson (President of the Angel Capital Association) and Kenneth Kousky (President of BlueWater Angels in Michigan). Marianne shared her thoughts on crowdfunding and regulatory changes affecting both early stage and impact investing. We are grateful for her role as an advocate for policies and regulations that promote angel investing. I enjoyed connecting with these leaders in the angel investing community at the Prince of Wales hotel in beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake.
I also caught up with Randy Thompson, of VA Angels, and Mark Lawrence, of the Network of Angel Organizations - Ontario, in the vintage (think stained glass and mahogany) pub at the Queen’s Landing hotel to talk about how angel networks can and are promoting business leadership through mentoring programs.
Other subjects that came up in my conversations during the week were angel investors’ interest in participating in international deals and cross-border syndication. In addition to the investments angels are making in their local communities, this strategy can provide diversification and participation in growth happening in, for instance, frontier markets where growth capital is less available.
I look forward to seeing everyone at NACO 2016 in Vancouver, B.C. Ian McKay (CEO, Vancouver Economic Commission), we look forward to spending some time in the city you could not help bragging on.
The location for SOCAP was wonderful. Fort Mason is situated right on the water, with beautiful views of sailboats, seals and the Golden Gate Bridge. For me, the SOCAP experience was about being in a collaborative environment with thousands of people who, in some way, shape or form, participate in the growing field of impact investing. This provided me with the opportunity to make some really meaningful connections and have great conversations with my peers and colleagues in the space.
During my time in San Francisco, I was able to connect with the leaders of Align Impact, Village Capital, SGII, Capria Accelerator, TONIIC and Connecting Growth Globally, just to name a few. We talked about a myriad of topics related to impact investing, from joining RENEW in Ethiopia to meet with our portfolio companies, to exploring ways to partner in East Africa.
RENEW is doing our part to contribute to an innovative and diverse community that is changing the way the world invests and does development, tackling poverty and engaging with the African continent in a new way. We see investing in SMEs as one of the most effective ways to encourage economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa, and all over the world. Investors can do well by doing good, which means there is a compelling investment case for investing in Africa in a way that creates jobs, promotes local production of essential goods and services, enhances healthcare and education and drives economic growth.
Renew Capital is an Africa-focused impact investment firm that backs innovative companies with high-growth potential. Renew Capital manages investments made on behalf of the Renew Capital Angels, a global network of angel investors, foundations and family offices who seek financial returns and sustainable social impact. For the latest on investing in Africa, subscribe and follow us at our social links below.

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