Thursday, March 08, 2007

Its beginning to feel a bit like...some folks get it

This post on xigi is really inspiring:

  1. Danish pension funds want to invest in Africa. Leads to creation of capital funds, such as C-4.
  2. The announcement of, another mapping tool that will help investors, capital, and social enterprises find each other (like xigi does).
  3. The linkage of these capital activities to the Millennium Development Goals - finally, aligning action with rhetoric with capital.
  4. The continued growth of xigi - as a mapping tool, information source, pattern analyzer - its helps you sort what you know, array it so new patterns emerge, and display it so others can find it. The minute they find it and add to it, the picture changes, and off you go.
I just spent 4 hours on a plane writing some about the current manifestations of philanthropic trends that first emerged about a decade ago. At that time, as I was writing about these things, the big changes for philanthropy had to do with the emergence of new financial vehicles and vendors, the potential for knowledge sharing brought about by the Internet, and the need to consider policy and regulations as part of philanthropic strategies. Specifically:
  • Innovations once on the edges of philanthropic activity are starting to draw out the center (PRIs, community investing).
  • The once elusive markets for financial tools (xigi, et al) are definitely coming together. Philanthropists who understand the relationship of broad regulations on their ability to be successful are standing up and saying that policy matters (see announcement on Omidyar Network today).
  • Even the next stage of online giving morphing into knowledge brokers seems possible, as consolidation becomes real (Convio/GetActive, BlackBaud/Target announcements) and management gets shaken up (Gruber out at Kintera).
As I was writing I had this sense that many of the highly optimistic, big scale changes we expected from the "new philanthropy" boom of the late 1990s might actually be coming now. An analog to Internet boom 1.0 and 2.0 - we might actually be seeing the real, sticky changes in the philanthropic industry that many thought were going to arrive in 1999.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Lucy,

I am of course thrilled that you have posted about us.... as you are quite an influencer in the States!

And great that the post on has inspired you! There are though some things I need to "correct" in your post...

I have written a bit of background information as to C4-world and our two business concepts of the online marketplace/platform, and the African C4 Funds.

C4-world is building an online platform; MyC4, which will allow companies across Africa to source loans and equity investments from the global community.

To source investment opportunities, we will work through a combination of partner organizations, including Funds and NGOs that work with African entrepreneurs and SMEs, established companies who will give us access to African SMEs in their supply chain, and local banks and microfinance institutions who have an interest in sharing risks or expanding the reach of their operations, as well as recruit some of our own local credit officers.

The platform will allow people from around the world who create online funded investment accounts to participate in auctions (they will bid an amount and the interest rate they wish to earn) to fund the loan requests posted by the entrepreneurs and SMEs.

In addition, we have started work to raise two funds (target $50m each). The first fund will be a microfinance fund, investing both in microfinance institutions themselves, and also at the actual microfinance loan level, using knowledge and analytics captured from the flow on our platform.

The second fund will be a private equity fund, investing in a combination of other funds, and directly in companies (with a focus on earlier stage investing than most current African PE funds), using the analytics, networks and knowledge from the flow on the platform and the microfinance fund.

We will launch in Uganda first, where we have the strongest network of contacts, then plan to expand to the rest of the continent soon thereafter (neighbouring East Africa, South Africa and Ghana are high on our list of countries to expand to).

When making loans or investments in the companies, whether directly through our funds, or on behalf of the investors on our platform, we will typically need to work with local banking partners to issue, administer and document the loans.

The plan is to provide these partner banks 100% of the underlying capital to fund the investments/loans, and to rely on the banks' infrastructure to actually issue the loan on our behalf, and administer it.

We are targeting a launch date of May 1 for the "Beta site" of MyC4 which will operate in a controlled environment and expect to "go live" to the general public end this year - we are in close contact with major Danish pension funds and expect to launch the first two funds in 3rd quarter of 2007.

Do not hope that the above ruins the inspiration you found on Xigi!?!?!