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<Date and time of session> Thursday 15
Session reporter: Tu Ngo
Summary of the content of the session:
Speakers: Ken Ito, Todd Stevens, Kim Sophastienphong
Todd Stevens from CEDF presented his work on conservation, especially how conservation is about
changing people’s behaviors. His organization was founded on the premise that it should not rely on
grants and programs, but on how to transform the organization into sustainable businesses. For
example, with ibis Cambodia, CEDF worked on supply chain strategy and helped find new markets
for impact investors.
Kim Sophastienphong from Oxfam presented Oxfam enterprise projects with the agriculture sector.
She sees the trend of increased decision-making from women who used to be more left out. She also
sees increase in income and sales. Oxfam offers business grants, loan and project grants. For
example, they invest in a chili enterprise in Bangladesh or a Dairy enterprise in Sri Lanka. From pre-
validation to building successful business takes 7-10 years and hence Kim emphasized the need for a
long-term view. On advice, she recommended identifying good partners, diversification especially to
companies with a large base of customers, focus on key investable countries instead of spreading
resources thin across many markets, run decisions based on metrics and data.
Both speakers commented that investors make strategic decisions of returns vs. risks. The key lies in
creating blended value to investors depending on the needs and availability of the
financial/investment tools. You also have to make sure that money is tricked down passing through
the intermediaries. The impact investment sector opens up new opportunities and may affect the
pipeline for grants; however Kim Sophastienphong commented that there is still a need for the
missing middle which Oxfam is targeting – these are not large enough for impact investors and yet
are not small for traditional grants as they are now seeking for growth strategy. On evaluating
projects, Kim mentions asking especially women for answers as they don’t typically volunteer to
answer your questions. They also use reports to then replicate the successful models.
Major conclusions of the session:
While there are variations in how funds are set up, the common theme lies in the need to focus on
scaling organizations using business concepts.
Feedback/Take-Aways for AVPN:
The contents are good but it could be a bit not relevant to the panel title of how to set up a venture
philanthropy fund as not many can replicate what Oxfam has been doing for years together with the
brand and networks it has set up.