Global Partnerships, Eleos Foundation launch East African social venture fund

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Global Partnerships and the Eleos Foundation have announced the launch of an East Africa-focused social venture fund to invest in social enterprises that expand opportunity for people living in poverty in the region.

The fund has already made investments in Kenyan startups Sanergy, Penda Health and Eneza Education, and its operations over the next ten years are supported by a significant grant from the Eleos Foundation as well as backing from the Sorenson Impact Foundation and the Linked Foundation.   

“There are very few organisations investing in seed-stage social enterprises,” said Rick Beckett, chief executive officer (CEO) and president of Global Partnerships.

“The Social Venture Fund was created to address the ‘pioneer gap’ – capitalising and supporting social enterprises in their earliest stages of development. These enterprises are addressing big problems facing people living in poverty, on a continent with the highest and most persistent levels of poverty in the world.”

The fund will be led by Jim Villanueva, who has transitioned from his role as executive director of the Eleos Foundation to work with Global Partnerships. Villanueva has been investing in early-stage social businesses in developing countries for seven years.

“I am thrilled to join Global Partnerships as the managing director for this new Social Venture Fund,” he said. “Global Partnerships’ over twenty year success as an impact-led investor and its seasoned team will be a huge asset in helping these early stage social enterprises grow and have a greater impact.”

The fund will invest in approximately 12 high-potential, early-stage social enterprises focused on education, energy, health, rural livelihoods, sanitation and water, and finance these enterprises through seed-stage convertible debt and early-stage equity. The goal of the fund is to positively impact more than five million lives.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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