Matt Damon’s Water Charity Takes Impact Investing Plunge
Water.org, the nonprofit resulting from the 2009 merger of Matt Damon’s H2O Africa and Gary White’s WaterPartners, has completed an $11 million impact investing pilot project and has already closed on $33 million in a new fund that they hope will reach $50 million.
The transition from an entirely philanthropic approach built around drilling wells and building toilets to an investment model is motivated by a desire to reach more people, White, 55, the CEO says. “Frustration with the pace of our impact led me to try something entirely new.”
The resulting model does not require Water.org—or WaterEquity, the new entity it formed to make and receive water, sanitation and hygiene or WASH-related impact investments—to make individual loans to consumers in their target markets. Instead, WaterEquity provides investment capital to microfinance companies that provide loans to low-income consumers at affordable rates for WASH upgrades in their homes.