Wednesday
June 22
2011

Francisco Noguera

Agora’s Impact Investor Conference: Accelerating the Central American Deal Flow

In the midst of all the talk and philosophical discussions about the promise of Impact Investing, I would actually like to read and write more about deals, the ins and outs of the investments through which this idea is coming into fruition. Such reading material is scarce though. I dare to say that actual deals taking place are equally so.

A topic that needs more analysis is the seemingly massive intermediation gap in this industry. We read about investors and entrepreneurs, but rarely about the wide and expensive gap that exists between the two. Actual figures are difficult to find or estimate, but costs associated with finding and preparing enterprises that match a certain impact area and geographic focus seem considerable for investors. Add to this the costs of due diligence and the lengthy process involved in getting a company to “investment-readiness”, a fuzzy, often-used term.

Agora Partnerships is acting on this gap and taking investment-readiness preparation to a level that I was, until now, unaware of — as far as the small and growing business (SGB) space is concerned. In July, they will host the first Impact Investor Conference in Granada, featuring nine early stage enterprises that went through a competitive selection process to reach the Agora Accelerator Program. These ventures are, in effect, ready to engage in a transaction with an impact investor.

But what does this actually mean?

Through Agora’s Accelerator Program, all companies received business, leadership, and communications training, as well as intense consulting on the implications of seeking and receiving impact investments. Financial and legal reviews will be available for most of the firms, conducted by third party providers with high credibility and a strong track record in the Central American context. All companies are GIIRS rated, and thus fully invested in the impact investing philosophy, placing as much emphasis on their business strengths as on their abilities to generate social and/or environmental value.

Agora’s proposition brings tremendous value to the domain of impact investing, making it more likely for deals to start occurring. I encourage you to read more about the conference, which should undoubtedly yield deals and lessons to be shared with the broader sector.

Categories
Entrepreneurship
Tags
impact investing, social enterprise, startup