This post was originally published on SOCAP’s blog
A SOCAP Guest Post By: Carrie Gonnella, Senior Program Director, CASE i3 Initiative on Impact Investing, Duke University
It has been one year since we officially launched CASE Smart Impact Capital to the world at SOCAP17, and we couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve seen over this past 12 months. We are learning more every day about how entrepreneurs, accelerators, students, and investors are using this toolkit to identify the right impact capital to fuel business and impact growth in social ventures – and an example of that learning is below in our Q&A with Andrew Foote, CEO and Co-Founder of Sanivation.
When we started developing CASE Smart Impact Capital, it was important to us to design a truly scalable solution that makes knowledge and tools available to anyone who needs them, anytime, from anywhere. The metrics we track give us confidence that we are indeed on that path to scale – with over 17,500 unique visitors to our site, over 66,000 downloads and page views, from 130 (!) countries. We’re thrilled to now be working with over 35 partners who provide CASE Smart Impact Capital to their groups as a plug-and-play guide to the capital-raising journey.
We firmly believe that the tools, guides, and resources we’ve created are needed by impact enterprises throughout their journeys – as the business grows, faces new opportunities to scale, and needs additional funding to support those efforts. When the toolkit is used over and over again as the enterprise develops, impact leaders benefit from the most timely, relevant, and tactical guidance on how to fuel that growth.
With an established track record of uptake, we’re excited to now be starting to see our hypothesis of the benefit of repeated use bearing out. We now have entrepreneurs who have access the toolkit through different partner programs, at different points in time.
We spoke with one of those entrepreneurs, Andrew Foote, CEO and Co-Founder of Sanivation, to get his perspective on how CASE Smart Impact Capital has benefited his enterprise and team in different ways, at different points in time.
CASE i3 Initiative: Give us a brief description of your venture.
Andrew Foote: We use a waste-to-energy model to truly revolutionize sanitation infrastructure in urbanizing communities. Yes, we treat poop and transform it into biomass fuels to replace wood and charcoal. To date we have signed partnerships with local governments in Nakuru and Turkana Kenya, worked with refugee populations, and deployed two waste processing plants. Our work has been widely recognized by experts for its innovative approach, from World Bank, Gates Foundation, UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency), and just recently by the US Patent office. We currently employ over 75 people. We have sold 500+ tons of solid fuels from fecal sludge, saving 30,000+ trees.
CASE i3 Initiative: Where were you in your venture’s evolution when you started using Smart Impact Capital? What were the main challenges you faced at the time, and how did you use the toolkit to address those challenges?
Andrew Foote: We first used Smart Impact Capital in 2017 through our participation in the SOCAP Entrepreneur Scholarship program. At that stage in our development, we were really using the modules to educate more of our team members about impact investing. We did more picking-and-choosing of content to focus on the modules we most needed for our own professional development.
CASE i3 Initiative: Now, a year later, you are part of the inaugural FHI Ventures accelerator program, which has structured their new curriculum around Smart Impact Capital. Are you approaching the toolkit differently this time?
Andrew Foote: Yes, we regained access to the tools through FHI Ventures. As we are currently preparing for our next capital raise, we are using the tools much more systematically this time, following them in order from beginning to end. The order of the tools is well thought-out and effective for entrepreneurs as a step-by-step guide to capital-raising. We have also really used the tools to focus and set milestones on our business development team.
CASE i3 Initiative: Did anything surprise you about the toolkit?
Andrew Foote: The comprehensiveness. You start by watching a video, but then the attachments have a significant amount of depth to them. I think it is rare to find a toolkit that is able to provide both the high-level overview and go into depth so efficiently.
CASE i3 Initiative: What was most valuable about the toolkit for you or your venture?
Andrew Foote: A piece of the content we recently used and found really valuable was the guidance on selecting the right investment story for our venture and for the types of investors we’re pitching. The toolkit gives four common investment stories for impact enterprises, and those different narrative options spurred significant conversation within our team, and provided a really clear way to think about how we tell our story. We ultimately realized we should be pitching an innovation play.
CASE i3 Initiative: What can other entrepreneurs expect if they use the toolkit? Do you have advice for others using Smart Impact Capital?
Andrew Foote: Entrepreneurs should expect to be impressed by the toolkit. My advice would be really set aside the time to use it. Explore the different modules at a high level from the beginning, check out the data-rich downloads and tools, and then think about how to best integrate the modules into your team’s workflow.
CASE i3 Initiative: Do you have advice for others approaching the capital raising process?
Andrew Foote: Make sure you dedicate the time to the capital raising process (it takes time!). And use your time efficiently by trying to simplify everything (read: your messaging, financials, traction, growth plans) as much as you can. Make sure you have a narrative that is really easy for others to understand. The easier your work is to understand, the easier it is for others to understand how to support you.