Grassroots New Chapter

 In Blog

As the world gradually, unevenly emerges from the destruction and upheaval of the pandemic we at Grassroots Capital Management, like many of you, are assessing the landscape and repositioning ourselves.

While we will remain engaged in impact initiatives globally as individuals, Grassroots will not pursue new engagements as of the new year. With the closing of this chapter, we are taking stock and reflecting on the twenty year span of Grassroots and its predecessors.

Over these past two decades Grassroots has provided early support to dozens of defining initiatives in the microfinance and impact investing space spanning funds, industry standard setting organizations and multi-stakeholder networks around the world.

It is impossible to acknowledge all the hundreds of partners, supporters and collaborators who share credit for Grassroots’ accomplishments but we wouldn’t be where we are without their crucial contributions. Their critical support and inspiration helped shape Grassroots’ core commitment to “impact first.”

Grassroots’ core team includes Anna Kanze Hamilton, who was one of the first hires when Grassroots was incorporated and went on to wear every possible hat spanning finance, strategy, fund design, launch and management and creating and developing impact investing systems. Over the years, she guided Grassroots‘ evolution from microfinance to broader financial inclusion, climate resilience, and gender equity investing.

Amit Brar, who joined us from our long standing Indian partner Caspian Impact Advisers in 2014, led the team on several projects and deserves all the credit for the successes of the affordable school finance initiative and for shaping a women’s health initiative that for reasons beyond our control did not — at the last minute! — come to fruition.

Starting in 2009, Cynthia Poirier has taken on every function required for the team’s success, ultimately as Chief Operating Officer responsible for the infrastructure essential for Grassroots, despite its small size, to project itself globally.

While not part of Grassroots, Ira Lieberman, who I first met pitching what became Shorecap when he headed CGAP, has been a valued partner and taskmaster responsible for co-organizing / co-authoring a series of conferences, articles and books on the changing financial inclusion landscape in recent years.

Finally, we are deeply saddened, as were many of you, by the tragic death earlier this year of our friend and colleague, Edgar Rivera, an essential part of our team who was profoundly committed to our mission and brightened all our activities with his positive spirit.

Our involvement in microfinance began in the late 1990s and early 2000s when the dominant ideology was still the unadulterated magic of the marketplace. Microfinance, combining market discipline and bootstraps to address poverty and gender, was well-timed. But with the success of microfinance, we can forget that financial inclusion – while essential – is ultimately an inadequate response to economic injustice and does not obviate the need for better access to health care, education and remunerative livelihoods.

The pandemic revealed where the market’s magic falls disastrously short. As Grassroots winds down we all individually will remain engaged with issues of economic justice globally, both in the markets in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe where we have been most active as well as the U.S. where recent years have revealed how much work needs to be done.

Best wishes to all our partners and friends. Keep in touch.

Paul DiLeo

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