Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Support for the Flood Victims of Pakistan

This year will be remembered for two of the greatest natural disasters in decades.  In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, we are now in the midst of a flood that has resulted in over 1,600 deaths, the displacement of millions of people, and the dissolution of infrastructure making the delivery of essentials nearly impossible.  Whereas the Haitian disaster was met with an overwhelming positive international response, the Pakistani flood has been slow to attract aid dollars.  Advocates like UN General Secretary, Ban Ki-Moon, have been leading a call to action.  Problems are shifting quickly from the immediate danger of flood waters, to the prolonged threat of disease and lack of access to water.  The region requires immediate action, and of course, more long term action as well. 

Credit: UN Development Program

Calvert Foundation is eager explore its role in providing support to the aid community.  Through our Calvert Giving Fund we are mobilizing donor dollars to organizations that are directly contributing to the relief effort.  We invite you to take a look at some of the organizations who are doing relief work in the area.  They all have some great information on their websites relating to specific relief efforts. 
In addition, we are continually brainstorming new ways to involve our organization in disaster relief.  Though we are not a grant making institution, we do see a role for affordable, patient capital in the long term redevelopment of post disaster societies.  We hope to provide social investors with new tools to positively influence the rebuilding of these countries in the resilient nature of their citizens.  Please join us in thinking about what you can do to help the displaced and suffering in Pakistan.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Celebrating Change, Inspiring New Beginnings

450,000 jobs for low-income individuals, 17,000 affordable homes, and 27,000 non profit facilities and social enterprises. 

These are the real measures of success.

President and CEO Shari Berenbach has spent the last 13 years taking Calvert Foundation and its investors to this level of success. Now, with a stellar track record of growth, Shari has made the difficult decision to pass the torch, leaving her legacy as the basis for Calvert Foundation’s next stage of growth.

“When I joined Calvert Foundation in l997, I took on the improbable challenge of demonstrating that investment can be a tool to end poverty. With impact investing now on the minds of individuals and institutions alike, investing to achieve community impact is an idea whose time has come. In more than 13 years, I have grown Calvert Foundation from $5 million to $500 million in assets under management. This move will provide the opportunity for Calvert Foundation to move to its next level of maturity,” she said.

Shari’s next step will be to lead microenterprise development at USAID, where she will oversee hundreds of millions of dollars at work in over 60 countries around the globe. “I am eager to bring to the world stage our commitment to market-based solutions for the creation of sustainable and scalable strategies to end poverty,” she said.

bio_hallExecutive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer Lisa Hall will be serving as the interim head of Calvert Foundation until the Board of Directors appoints a permanent CEO. “It’s been an honor to work with Shari and we will miss her tremendously. She will be leaving a legacy and imprint not just on Calvert Foundation but also on the entire impact investing sector,” Lisa said.

Calvert Foundation is committed to carrying on its mission of fighting poverty through investment, and is working from a strong base moving forward. In fact, Calvert Foundation has celebrated many great successes as of late, including a partnership with Citi to invest $200 million in U.S. communities to finance small businesses and spur job growth. Calvert Foundation is an award-winning organization that has grown an average of 20% year over year since 1997, even flourishing during the recent economic downturn.

“I am so grateful to our investors and supporters for believing in the power of investment to help underserved communities,” Shari said. “I am excited for the future of Calvert Foundation, and pleased to keep a part of this important experience with me – in my investment portfolio! I am, of course, a proud investor in the Community Investment Note.”

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Supporting Local Agriculture and Farm Jobs in Africa

We are excited to announce that we are expanding our investment portfolio to include local agriculture in Africa through a $400,000 investment in Tanzania's Mtanga Farms Limited (MFL) as part of our Mission Plus portfolio, which allows us to take on investments that may fall outside of our usual portfolio guidelines but that we feel are worth it due to maximum social impact.

Located in the Iringa Region of Tanzania, MFL is a for-profit agricultural business that strives to increase crop production through improved farming methods and technology, share cropping, and farm contracting. Bolstered by investment dollars, MFL plans to start a seed potato business in which they will produce genetically stronger potato seeds to sell to farmers. Furthermore, MFL is starting an Outgrower Program that builds connections with local farmers by contracting parts of its 1,600 hectares of land for local farming. This program also provides advanced farming techniques, technology, and items such as fertilizer that are necessary for local farmers to thrive.

MFL can make a real difference for Tanzania, where agriculture accounts for more than 40 percent of the country’s GDP and employs 80 percent of the work force (according to the CIA World Factbook). MFL’s seed potato business has the potential to employ between 12,000 and 18,000 subsistence potato farmers in Tanzania. With stronger and more disease-resistant seeds, farmers can produce much more, thus increasing their income. Also, the introduction of the Outgrower Program will engage more people and increase employment in local villages. Investment from Calvert Foundation will help MFL grow to be a significant improvement for Tanzanian farmers.

Staff Spotlight: Harvard Business School Leadership Fellow Alla Jezmir

This week, we say goodbye to Alla Jezmir, a valued colleague who has made tremendous strides in her year-long fellowship with Calvert Foundation.

 Alla joined Calvert Foundation last summer as part of a Harvard Business School Fellowship called "Leadership Fellows," which matches non-profits with recent MBA graduates to bring the graduates’ strengths and skills to growing organizations.

While at Calvert Foundation, Alla was instrumental in developing Green Strategies to Fight Poverty™, which allows investors to finance organizations in our portfolio that address both poverty and environmental issues, including climate change and environmental degradation. Alla used her knowledge and experience in consulting, international development, and alternative energy to bring this program to fruition. “Both domestically and internationally, the need for this type of financing is profound,” she said. “I leave knowing there’s a lot of energy and interest in supporting work at the intersection of poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability.” Calvert Foundation expects to have $10 million in our portfolio as part of Green Strategies to Fight Poverty™ by year end.

After wrapping up here, Alla will travel to Tanzania for two months to work with EGG-energy, which she helped found in 2009. She oversees EGG-energy’s capital raising and partnership development and serves as board director. EGG-energy offers a battery subscription service to low-income African households and small businesses that lack access to the power grid, helping to reduce the use of expensive energy sources like kerosene. She will spend her time in Tanzania supporting ground operations, preparing the organization for expansion, and actively continuing her work on the board.

Upon her return to the U.S. in October, Alla will join the business development group of AES, one of the world’s largest power companies, where she will work on the development of new power plants.

“It’s been a privilege to work here and I think the potential for the impact we can have is tremendous. Great work is being done here,” she said.

Many thanks to Alla for all of the great work she has done here! We wish you all the best in Tanzania and at AES!