Author: Kevin Starr

December 11, 2012

Premature Incorporation

I'm spending an inordinate amount of time these days talking social entrepreneurs out of launching for-profits. Many drank deeply of the impact-investing Kool-Aid, and came away believing that going for-profit is the only way to drive financial and operational discipline, that it will give them immediate access to much more capital, and that they will find the holy grail of sustainability while the deluded do-gooders who went nonprofit are still grubbing around in the bushes for donations.

Author: Kevin Starr & Laura Hattendorf

September 24, 2012

Real World Impact Measurement

Measuring impact is kind of like raising kids: It's often hard, it costs more than you think it's going to -- and you absolutely have to do the best job you can. The Mulago Foundation obsesses over impact because it's the only way to know whether the money we spend is doing any good. In fact, we don't invest in organizations that don't measure their impact -- they're flying blind and we would be too.

Author: Kevin Starr

September 18, 2012

The Eight-Word Mission Statement

Whatever windy drivel they might put forward as a corporate mission statement, mainstream for-profit businesses have a clear, central mission: make money for shareholders. Some do it more sustainably, some are nicer about it, but they're all in the same boat. If they have a bad idea or execute poorly on a good one, they fail in their mission and eventually go out of business.

Author: Kevin Starr

July 11, 2012

The Trouble With Impact Investing: Part 3

When you do a three- part series called "The Trouble with Impact Investing," people might reasonably conclude that you just don't like impact investing. Not so—I think that if we do it right, impact investing might do a lot of good. At the Mulago Foundation, we've done three deals with good results and there are more in the pipeline.

Author: Laura Hattendorf

April 18, 2012

The Trouble With Impact Investing: Part 2

I just got back from the Skoll World Forum in Oxford and it's clear that impact investing is playing an ever-larger role in the world of social entrepreneurs. That is a good thing, but here's a critical question for the would-be impact investor: Are you a private equity investor in emerging markets? Or are you focused on solving an important social problem at the base of the pyramid?

Author: Kevin Starr

March 12, 2012

Another Look at "Carbon for Water" in Western Kenya

Vestergaard-Frandsen (VF), a manufacturer based in Switzerland, recently distributed about 900,000 of its LifeStraw Family water filters gratis to households in Kenya's Western Province. Since I'd been a vocal critic of the project in concept, I thought I ought to have a look at how it's working out on the ground.