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Lutheran World Relief
Baltimore, United States
Last updated on 12 Apr 2023
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At LWR, we are incubating impact investing within an international NGO. As an INGO, much of our work involves implementing grant-funded development programs in the following core areas: smallholder agriculture, climate change and emergency operations. About three years ago, we began exploring impact investing as a way to augment our grant-based programs with commercially sustainable models that alleviate poverty. We found that there were several investment opportunities in the smallholder agriculture space. So, in Apr 2017, we launched our impact investing initiative by setting up Ground Up Investing, the holding company through which we invest in innovative early and growth stage companies. To date, we’ve invested in three early-stage agribusinesses, which are re-imagining what it means to do business with small-scale coffee and cocoa farmers. Through creative business models, our investees work to increase the value farmers generate from their crops and improve the sustainability of their core assets - their farms. Key to our approach is delivering a comprehensive blend of capital, including human and financial (investment and grant) in order to enable our investees to succeed. What’s exciting about an INGO in this space, is that the impact of our work can be amplified beyond our impact investing portfolio. Under our grant-funded development projects, we partner with many farmer-owned/ cooperatively-owned businesses. We have the opportunity to share business expertise and knowledge from our investees with these partners, building their capacity and ability to succeed.