1. Please tell us about your organization and your involvement in venture philanthropy?
Opes Impact Fund is a recently established Italian impact investing initiative. Opes has been founded by five actors with a strong social background: ACRA CCS, an NGO with 45 years of experience; Ctm Altromercato, the largest fair-trade organization in Italy; FEM, an NGO focusing on “market-based solutions” in India; MicroVentues, an international player in Microfinance; Fondazione Maria Enrica, which usually supports women-related projects in developing countries. We focus on early stage social enterprises who have already piloted and are looking for support to validate their business model. We offer both debt and equity, with small to medium investment tickets.
2. Where do you see the benefits of venture philanthropy? What are the shortfalls?
Venture philanthropy brings fresh ideas and strategies to the fight against poverty.At Opes we think that using a different approach, which applies concepts and tools typical of the business world, is instrumental in successfully dealing with some of the world’s most intractable problems. In our view venture philanthropy is not competing with the traditional aid to development but – on the contrary – is complementing it.
3. Are you carrying out projects in Asia or interested in doing so? If so, what are your areas of interest?
Opes is currently focusing on two main geographical areas of activity: East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania ad Uganda) and India. We do not have a specific sectorial interest, as we are open to initiatives focusing in agriculture, energy, education, waste management, and others. We do not invest in microfinance institutions, however.
4. Where do you see your organization in the next 5 years?
Five years from now, we see Opes as a successful initiative in the global impact investing arena. We hope to become one of the catalysts of the impact investing movement in Italy, and we foresee Opes to be active in an increasing number of geographies and sectors.
For more information on Opes Impact Fund at EVPA’s other members, visit their website at http://www.evpa.eu.com