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Why Impact Investment and Why RENEW?

By Emily Ziethen | Sun Oct 12 2014
I have always possessed a passion for helping others, which was further instilled in me by the Jesuit education that I received from Loyola University Chicago. Under the Jesuit ideals, I was taught to constantly seek and expand my knowledge in the service of humanity, and acquire the skills that would enable me to solve the issues facing the world. Justice, social responsibility and global community are all values that were a part of my collegiate education, and have inspired me to, in the words of St. Ignatius himself, “Go forth and set the world on fire.” I believe that this drive was strengthened during my year studying abroad in France and living with a French host family. Being exposed to a completely different culture, language and way of life led me to truly appreciate the diverse international community and become globally aware in my personal identity and outward perspectives.
View from my home in Nantes, France
It was upon my return to the United States that I knew I wanted to pursue a career in international development, but I was not yet sure how I could go about achieving this dream. During my senior year at Loyola University Chicago, I was very fortunate to intern with the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Commercial Service, which gave me the opportunity to work one on one with small and medium sized business owners who were looking to expand overseas. It was at this internship that I first discovered the power of the private sector and how it can positively affect the global economy. Balancing trade deficits, spurring economic growth, job creation and raising the overall standard of living are just a few examples of what the private sector can accomplish. By witnessing the direct consequences of encouraging private sector growth, I was inspired to learn how to bring out the best attributes of capitalism and make it a force of good.
U.S. Department, U.S. Commercial Service Chicago Staff
After graduating from Loyola University Chicago, I realized that in order to become knowledgeable on how to help the international community through private enterprise, I needed practical and real world experience working in the actual sector. I was once again given a wonderful opportunity, this time working at a private-equity venture capital firm. It was at this firm that my understanding of the private sector’s potential expanded, specifically how the field of international investment can be harnessed. It was fascinating and exciting to watch investments being made in mid to late stage ventures, seeing the portfolio companies grow and become market leaders (second round of investments, IPOs, acquisitions/sales), while all providing a return on the original investment for the investors. That’s when the light bulb went off; if we could apply this growth cycle to businesses in developing countries, then we could positively change the local economy and help raise a community out of poverty. This was my introduction to impact investment, and I was driven to learn more.
I started researching all things impact investment, and found out what an amazing tool private investment can be when used to help others. The most important aspect of impact investment is that it not only provides a social impact for a community, but it also provides a return on the original investment. Impact investment is sustainable because it follows this philosophy; it is a helping hand, not a hand out. It does not participate in creating an aid-dependent society, but rather gives community members the resources and tools they need to help themselves.
The more I researched and learned about the field, the more I wanted to become a part of this amazing work. It was during this time that I learned about RENEW, and let’s just say it was love at first sight. RENEW is both unique and exciting by providing its angel investors a means to experience new cultures and exotic lands, all the while connecting them to socially impactful investments; a mash-up of Indiana Jones meets Warren Buffet. RENEW’s business model is hopeful and visionary; strategic and memorable. It strives to help its clients find, invest in and grow midsize companies into market leaders, make a great return, and create a positive impact on the country’s economy. All in all, RENEW strives to give its angels an unforgettable experience. It is now my hope, as the newest member of the RENEW family, that I in turn will gain the necessary skills and experience that will ultimately provide me the means to uphold RENEW’s mission and create a positive social impact in the world.
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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