"You can't steer a parked car": an update on the state of Impact Foundation
Momentum. That's the word of the day every day at Impact Foundation. We're trying to achieve and maintain enough momentum to accomplish our mission - helping donors invest in businesses that do good and make money. As we say a lot, "You can't steer a parked car." We've gotten going and now have enough activity so there's something to shape. It's exciting and sometimes we forget to share what's been happening. So here's a short update.
New Team Members
Jeff Johns joined as our CEO. He's the former EVP in charge of growth for National Christian Foundation. Jeff loves Jesus, his family, food, serving Donor/Investors - most of whom he knows because he's one of the most networked guys I know - building a great business, and adventure (in that order). As the former national collegiate skydiving champion, Jeff is reliving his glory days by jumping out of a steady job at NCF to do something brand new. Read his bio.
Bev Lathrop joined as our Operations Manager, or as she prefers "Queen of Covert Ops". With a high capacity for organizing chaos, Bev does a commendable job wrangling all the activity that Jeff and Aimee stir up. She spent the past 4 years working with Jeff at NCF and has enjoyed making the jump with him to Impact Foundation.
Though we think of ourselves as business people and have a revenue model, we're fully a charity and can raise donations to fuel our launch. We are excited to report that we've recruited 10 of the 20 founders we need to provide sustainability over the next 36 months until our revenue model covers our operating expenses. We'll keep working to find the remaining founders but for now we celebrate God's provision. Yay! Paychecks are nice.
Closing Deals and Building Processes
As our friend Dan Viall reminds us, "innovation happens at the speed of execution". It's his nice ways of saying that no one cares how cool our ideas are unless we actually follow through and do something. For us, the critical moment happens when we help a donor invest charitable capital in a business that makes money and has spiritual/social/environment impact. Happily, we've completed investments for 11 Donor/Investors with 3 more set to close in the next week. Talk about momentum.
To keep up with all these investments is no small task, which is why we're so pleased to be working with Capin Crouse, a prominent national accounting firm. Capin is helping build our accounting processes and will perform quarterly mini-audits to make sure we're following them. We've also hired Sunesis Advisors, a multi-family office that is expert at helping their clients vet, make, and manage private investments. This team provides those same services to Impact Foundation. As amazing as Jeff and Bev may be, we will never be investment experts, which makes Sunesis a very important part of our secret sauce.
Our 501c3 status came through. If you want to read more about why it's such a big deal, click here.
Hells kitchen's plant based PS Kitchen gives 100% of its profits to charity. Talk about a guilt-free meal! Not to mention, their drinks are fabulous as well.
How does a family of seven from Ohio end up living in the midst of goat herders in Kyrgyzstan and developing access to worldwide markets for luxury cashmere? After hearing Sy Belohlevek tell his family's story, the answer seems to be God and grit.
June Cashmere's 100% cashmere yarns are collected directly from Kyrgyz shepherds living on small family farms along the ancient Silk Road amidst the soaring mountains of Central Asia. June is the Kyrgyz word for animal fiber, which is a centuries old vital resource and essential element of their nomadic lifestyle. From felted woolen rugs, to the clothes on their backs, june has made itself an indelible part of Kyrgyz culture. Additionally, the uniquely warm properties of the cashmere from their goats allow them to sustain cold and long winters in the vast mountains in Kyrgyzstan.
After successful careers in the musical sales and financial services business, Joe was ready for a new challenge. So, during May 2013, he went on a 4-day fast and committed to God to sow (invest and give) 90% of his personal income to the work of the Kingdom of God on earth, and to live on 10% of his income.
The very next day, while driving, Joe saw a sign announcing a new Wal-Mart Store opening in his area. He felt God speak to his heart to contact Wal-Mart and try to begin a business relationship. Having spent his Saturdays serving meals to homeless men, Joe developed a burden to help. Over time that burden grew into an idea to offer affordable insurance to help people land on their feet even after the toughest life situations.
Ethiopia has changed since the famine of the 1980's that prompted pop stars to raise funds through a lovely concert and catchy tunes. Explore the current landscape with one of our portfolio companies.
Verde Beef Processing is a feed production, cattle fattening and beef processing business Located in Ethiopia’s largest state, Oromia (about 3 hours from Addis Ababa), Verde Beef is raising the country’s largest herd of cattle.
Verde has been leasing a processing facility but is quickly outgrowing it. Overall, this business is on track to scale to $100mm in revenue and $38M EBITDA per year. At that level of productivity the company will employ 2,500, and create 50,000 new jobs in the beef industry.
Work is how I amass enough power and wealth to make other people work for me.
Business is the means by which a few owners get rich through the effort of others.
The highest calling of a Christian in business is to make a lot of money to give away to the church and ministries.
We may not say it quite like this, but many of operate as if these lies and half-truths are true. If this is how we view work, it's no wonder that 70% of Americans hate their jobs or are completely disengaged (according to a Pew Research Poll.) This lame understanding of work also limits our potential to partner with God in some really amazing ways. By renewing our theology of work, we can better understand the role of business in the Kingdom of God. This is essential if we are to realize the power of business to serve as winsome witnesses of the Gospel, creatively demonstrating our faith by being part of the solution.
Pete Ochs" business Seat King exemplifies the best of "Redemptive Business" as a means of creating jobs and transforming lives.
Expanding on traditional Evangelism/Discipleship, the idea of Redemptive Business borrows heavily from Praxis Labs’ concept of a “redemptive entrepreneur”, or one who seeks to embody the gospel in creating and building a venture that leaves a meaningful impact on the world.
In the first 18 months of Impact Foundation, we have place $30 Million in 53 Impact Companies, spanning the globe from Silicon Valley to Laos. The impact of those investments encompasses most of the main categories of transformation sought by traditional charity plus a few areas that charity cannot reach. Read about the causes and places that our investments seeks to transform.
Some of our more devoted followers may have noticed that some months ago Impact Foundation and Olive Tree Investments joined forces. If you haven't noticed, or are confused by the combination, this blog is for you.
It’s a natural fit as both groups put charitable capital to work in enterprises that seek measurable social and kingdom transformation while earning money. Impact Foundation offers donors a flexible tool for charitable investment, while Olive Tree searches the globe for the best transformative businesses in emerging markets.
We are excited to welcome Steve Doerr to the team. He recently retired as an executive at ExxonMobil after more than 27 years. As Chief Operating Officer, Steve will help us shore up Impact Foundation's infrastructure and position us for the next phases of growth.
Steve has extensive experience managing diverse global portfolios and has lived and worked in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa as well as the US.
In the spring of 1984 my wife and I were standing in a field in Guatemala on an insight trip led by Opportunity International. I understood for the first time the power of business to accelerate the Great Commandment. I knew empirically and from experience that charity alone cannot eliminate extreme poverty; it's a critical piece of the puzzle, but insufficient on its own. That moment in Guatemala crystallized for me the desire to devote my life to serving the poor with sustainable, finance-driven solutions: not just to make the poor a little less poor but to partner with God in His work of redeeming the world and spreading the hope of the gospel.