Talent is Key: (With video) Omidyar Network shares lessons learned from the impact Investing field (Pt 4)
Editor’s note: This is the fourth post in a four-part series. Please check out additional series’ posts below.
Our evolution has led us to several insights on best practices around hiring for success in impact investing. Our first insight was about the value of seeking strong and experienced for-profit investment professionals. Our early impact investing efforts were executed occasionally by foundation staff accustomed to only making grants; it was difficult in such circumstances to execute on for-profit, venture-oriented deals. When we began to recruit senior investment professionals with deep backgrounds in venture capital and industry, we began seeing stronger results.
A second discovery was about building strong local teams with deep expertise in the markets they serve. While it is expensive and sometimes time consuming to create a local presence in specific markets, it generates robust deal flow, builds local credibility, increases local co-investment opportunities and ensures better due diligence. For example, our office in India, which represents more than 15 percent of our staff, is led by Jayant Sinha, a veteran investor with strong connections in both the business and government circles. We searched for someone to lead our India office for two years before we found Jayant, but it was well worth the wait. He has helped us develop one of the largest impact investing shops in India, with connections to the strongest entrepreneurs.
Finally, domain expertise is important. Our for-profit investments are heavily focused in three specific verticals — financial inclusion, consumer internet and mobile, and education. They are staffed by professionals who have developed deep knowledge and networks in these domains. This enables them to find high quality investments as well as partner with industry actors on efforts that push forward their respective sectors.
Managing Partner Matt Bannick explains Omidyar Network’s approach to staffing and how it influences domain expertise.