Mercy Corps Social Venture Fund

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New Investment in Colombian Logistics Platform

The Social Venture Fund closed its third investment in Colombia and 10th investment overall in LiftIt. This is our fund’s first pure logistics investment. We think it’s a critical and often overlooked factor in development and are excited to learn about the tangible impact of a model like LiftIt on the types of marginalized, rural communities that Mercy Corps Colombia focuses on.

LiftIt is a platform that makes it simple to schedule cargo shipments of all sizes throughout Colombia. The venture provides quick and transparent quotations, real-time tracking of shipments, full-value insurance, and guaranteed same-day delivery. Leveraging Colombia’s existing network of over 500,000 registered, independent truck drivers, LiftIt endeavors to increase the incomes of drivers, as well as increase the availability of efficient logistics services in rural and urban markets.

LiftIt co-founder and CEO Brian York said that they are, “on a mission to provide technology driven and affordable last-mile cargo transportation throughout all of Colombia.” We think this mission is part of the rural development and investment that are critical factors at this stage in the Colombian Peace Process as rural communities long mired by conflict and poverty seek to improve their well-being.

Name: LiftIt
Location: Bogota, Colombia
Year Founded: 2016
SVF Impact Areas: Last-Mile Distribution
SVF Investment: Seed Round - Undisclosed

About Mercy Corps' Social Venture Fund

Mercy Corps sees complex global challenges as an invitation: to pioneer paths out of poverty, to forge novel partnerships, to create solutions not limited by status quo. We look to new ways of funding international development that promote the flexibility and experimentation required to test new models — models that could deliver social benefit to millions of people in the developing world.

Mercy Corps’ Social Venture Fund provides early-stage financing and post-investment support to create and grow scalable, self-sustaining businesses that improve people’s lives in an enduring way. We do this by pairing our deep, on-the-ground insight into local customs and markets with capital and targeted business expertise.

Capitalized by philanthropic contributions, we structure the Mercy Corps Social Venture Fund so that our highest-potential emerging ventures receive the early-stage support needed to learn, adapt and grow. Those that demonstrate financial sustainability, social impact and scale in the proof-of-concept and acceleration phases are connected with investors for follow-on funding to reach commercial viability.

Download the Mercy Corps Social Venture Fund prospectus ▸

Knowledge Sharing

Mercy Corps launched the Social Venture Fund (SVF) in 2015 to fill a critical gap (the “Pioneer Gap”) in the impact investing market for seed and early stage social venture startups. In its first year, SVF completed six investments, becoming one of the most active early stage impact investors in both Indonesia and Kenya.

During the same time Mercy Corps became a founding member of the INGO Impact Investing Network, a consortium of more than 40 international NGOs. The consortium works together to generate and share knowledge about how they use private investment capital to advance their work in solving pressing global development challenges. This group believes that impact investing—the investment of capital to drive measureable social, economic, and environmental as well as financial returns—presents a compelling opportunity to achieve increased scale, innovation, sustainability, and partnerships in international development. The INGO Impact Investing Network’s first report that was released in July 2016 provides in-depth study of the current impact investing landscape among INGOs in the international development sector.

As Mercy Corps, and others, continue pioneering this approach, we plan on sharing our insights regularly with all interested stakeholders. Mercy Corps will release case studies on our investments highlighting the unique value we bring as an investor, how we’ve connected them to Mercy Corps’ larger platform and how we can improve in the future.

We hope you will join us on our journey to empower local entrepreneurs to solve big development challenges.

Case Study - NewLight Africa ▸

Case Study - Vasham ▸

Our Investments

  • NewLight Africa - Nairobi, Kenya: New Light Africa (NLA) is a direct marketing and distribution company that sells socially beneficial products to the rural poor.
  • Vasham - Jakarta, Indonesia: Vasham leverages a closed-loop business model to provide Indonesian smallholder farms with the financing, expertise, income security and market linkage they need to achieve significantly better standards of living.
  • FarmDrive - Nairobi, Kenya: FarmDrive expands access to credit to underserved smallholder farmers by providing modern tech-driven credit assessment tools and digital financial services.
  • Wobe - Jakarta, Indonesia: Wobe is a mobile platform that allows anyone with a smartphone to become a sales agent for prepaid phone credits, prepaid utilities, and other digital goods and services.
  • Lynk - Nairobi, Kenya: Lynk connects informal workers with short and longer-term employment through a two-way, online marketplace.
  • Sokowatch - Nairobi, Kenya: SokoWatch is a last-mile distribution platform that enables small shop owners in East Africa to stock socially beneficial health and consumer goods products from companies such as GlaxoSmithKlein, Unilever, and Procter & Gamble.
  • Arifu - Nairobi, Kenya: Arifu offers mobile learning tools that make it possible for the world's least served people (rural smallholder farmers, microentrepreneurs, youth and women in the base of the income pyramid) to access the information they need to improve their incomes and escape from poverty using any mobile phone.
  • Suyo - Medellin, Colombia: Suyo formalizes property rights for low-income families through innovations in mobile technology and strong financial institution partnerships.
  • Agruppa - Bogota, Colombia: Agruppa is a last-mile distribution service that delivers fruits and vegetables directly to urban mom-and-pop shops from local smallholder farmers.
  • LiftIt - Bogota, Colombia: LifiIt is a logistics platform that makes it simple to schedule cargo shipments of all sizes by providing quick and transparent quotations, shipment tracking, full-value insurance, and guaranteed same-day delivery.

Partnerships

Partnerships and networks are key to supporting entrepreneurs and creating a thriving ecosystem for them to succeed. Mercy Corps is excited to be a member or leader in several great networks including:

Are you interested in working for a better world in pioneering new ways? We are seeking early partners passionate about employing business strategies to reduce poverty.

Email svfund@mercycorps.org to learn more about opportunities to invest in our Social Venture Fund and pursue a lasting approach to global development.