This report springs from a point of view shared by Monitor and Acumen Fund—that philanthropy is the essential but often overlooked catalyst that unlocks the impact potential of inclusive business and impact investing. The report has been created with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The key themes discussed here are based on the sum of Monitor’s extensive research into more than 700 inclusive businesses in Africa and India, and Acumen Fund’s decade of experience as a pioneering impact investor. They also draw together the experiences and observations of dozens of impact investors, grant funders, academics and other experts who were generous enough to share their thoughts with us.
In addition, a Monitor team conducted a three-month study of companies in the Acumen Fund portfolio whose development had been significantly affected by grant subsidies, to further develop our insights and provide helpful illustrations. Four company case studies are contained in the main report, and two further case studies can be found as an appendix.
Finally, a thoughtful, diverse and generous group of external expert reviewers helped us to fine-tune the report and its recommendations for clarity and impact. This report has focused on developing an in-depth, demand-side understanding of the needs and challenges facing inclusive businesses, rather than on studying the drivers and constraints of grantmakers and investors. However, we acknowledge that the latter is a valuable area for further study and action going forward. Read more »