Photo: Soledad Sandoval

Avina has been focused on building an ecosystem that favors the creation
and promotion of inclusive businesses.

 

I mpact businesses make money while generating social and environmental benefits.  The emergence of this sector is a key element in the creation of a new economy. It can serve as a pillar of sustainable development, but it remains an unfulfilled promise. It is a sector plagued by high transaction costs and a lack of supporting infrastructure. Impact business has yet to produce an integrated value chain.  The nascent sector should be creating a continuous flow of investment opportunities linked to a growing number of businesses that offer adequate rates of return.  Instead, there are only a few examples of fast-growing impact businesses, beyond microfinance and micro-insurance, and these generally do not include technology to any significant degree.

 

Avina’s Impact Business Tool

The Impact Business tool represents a new phase of Avina’s work in inclusive business and markets that benefit the base of the economic pyramid. The goal is to generate economic value by turning innovation and technology into solutions for the environment and low-income communities.

 

Since it was founded in 1994, Avina has sought to involve the business world in solving the challenges of environmental sustainability and social inclusion. Its years of supporting micro- and small businesses, corporate social responsibility, green businesses and cooperative movements have provided encouraging results. In the last five years, Avina has focused on business at the base of the pyramid and inclusive markets, supporting innovators and entrepreneurs who are, piece by piece, creating a new value chain.  This includes organizations that promote entrepreneurship, business incubators and accelerators, and impact investment funds.  It also includes agencies that promote innovation, international development organizations, private companies and foundations.  This diverse group of people and organizations all seek to forge new business models, creating profitable companies focused on generating social and environmental impact.  Our goal over the next five years will be to accelerate the growth of the impact business industry through technological innovation.

 

Inclusive Markets as a Regional Priority

In 2012, Avina continued to promote the development of inclusive markets in Latin America, having become a regional and global reference for this growing sector.  Activities were focused on building an ecosystem that favors the creation and promotion of inclusive businesses.

 

Below are some of the results we saw in 2012 in the area of Inclusive Markets:

 

Support for Investment Funds

In 2012, Fundación Avina entered into a limited partnership with Adobe Capital in order to support an investment fund during its fund-raising stages. During this process, Avina helped Adobe Capital build its contacts and engage potential investors.  Adobe succeeded in winning support from Promotora Social Mexico ($600,000), CAF - Development Bank of Latin America ($2 million), Calvert Investments ($500,000), The Enlightened World Foundation ($600,000), New Island Capital ($ 2.2 million), KL Felicitas ($100,000), Mexico Ventures ($2 million) and DEG ($5 million), for a total of $15 million in funds raised.

 

At the same time, Avina promoted Adobe Capital’s visibility as an active participant in different international events. Avina also invested $250,000 in the fund and participated in its Board of Directors.

 

Growth of B Corporations in Latin America

B  Corporations are companies that, besides seeking an economic return, are dedicated to creating social and environmental benefits. Such businesses can apply for certification that indicates having met certain social and environmental standards. In 2012, 39 companies in Latin America became certified as B Corporations: 22 in Chile, eight in Argentina, six in Colombia and three in Brazil.


Currently, there are an additional 450 businesses in the region that have shown the interest and potential to become B Corporations, of which more than 200 have committed to the certification process while 90 are in the process of being certified. To be certified, a company must undergo a rigorous analysis of its business model, evaluation of its labor and environmental practices, and review of its relationship to the local community, among other factors.

 

Avina thinks that B Corporations can become important agents of change by presenting solutions to some of society’s most entrenched problems—poverty, inequality and discrimination.

 

Avina has encouraged the consolidation of the B Corporation community in Latin America by meeting with different groups and committed businesses. Avina sponsored and backed Sistema B (B System) ―the organization that drives B Corporations in Latin America―and pushed for the application of the model in Brazil. The official launch of Sistema B and B Corporations was held at the offices of Avina in Santiago, Chile.

 

Impact Business in 2013

L ooking forward, the Impact Business tool will link innovation and businesses, creating a network that increases the level of collaboration among different stakeholders in the sector. It will also look to address the gaps in the impact business value chain. To fulfill its role as a facilitator and catalyzer, Avina, through Impact Business, will aim to:

 

  1. Strengthen key players, such as business incubators and impact investment funds.
  2. Mobilize the efforts of technology companies seeking original and scalable solutions to meet environmental and social inclusion challenges in our region.
  3. Support the creation of new businesses and joint ventures that maximize the social and environmental impact of new technologies, products and services.

 

This will allow Avina to promote a growing collaborative ecosystem and contribute to a new economy based on profitable businesses generating social and environmental impact with a regionally and global reach.

 

Our main allies and co-
investors in 2012 were:
  • Citibank: with which we organized the Citi Microentrepreneur Award in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, and supported efforts in Peru.
  • Omidyar Network and Rockefeller  Foundation: which joined in organizing the Impact Investment  Forum held in Sao Paulo and the Impact Economy Innovation Fund.
  • Folha de S. Paulo: with which we backed the Social Entrepreneur Award.
  • CAF - Development Bank of Latin America: with which we organized the Inclusive Markets Forum held in Lima, Peru.
  • Halloran Philanthropies: with which we created the IDESAM forest business incubator in the Amazon.