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I chat with Nina Gené, CEO of Jasmine Social Investments. Jasmine funds high-performing social ventures and outstanding social entrepreneurs who are solving a basic need of the very poor. Her thinking overlaps with some areas of classical EA thinking, with an emphasis on the scale-up stage and on helping deep poverty.

Nina is looking for someone to join her team in NZ (check out her Linkedin, as of end Nov 2023, links end esp. good if you have VC experience). I thought EAs might find this conversation interesting: 

(1) as to a large venture philanthropy fund and how they thinking about impact and grant making for deep poverty 

(2) as EA adjacent or part overlap if you are a NZ EA and think a role here might be for you 

(3) If you are at scale-up, or, seed stage and think this might be a non-EA source of funding for you. I have directed one EA funded start-up here, and they have gone on to at least have a further conversation and process is on-going.

(Likely, I am much more sympathetic to non-EA funding than the average on the forum here as I'm not EA myself.)

Summary: What is venture philanthropy? 

What is venture philanthropy? How can we best make social impact via investing or grants? I chat to Nina Gené, CEO of Jasmine Social Investments. Jasmine funds high-performing social ventures and outstanding social entrepreneurs who are solving a basic need of the very poor.

Ben and Nina discuss what venture philanthropy means and how Jasmine thinks about philanthropy.

We delve into the investment process that Jasmine uses. How Nina identifies opportunities, the type of qualities Nina looks for in a social entrepreneur and an organisation.

We discuss success investment examples, how we might think of impact investing and how it may differ from grants. We talk about the advantages of being neutral to structure, ie, being able to fund using grants, debt or equity. Whatever suits. 

We chat about the influence of venture investing and how entrepreneurs think. How Jasmine shares information and due diligence and what help they give investee companies.

We talk about measuring impact, and the challenges of scaling up.

We mentioned the pros and cons of working in New Zealand, whether Spanish food is under rated and finish on advice Nina has.

Nina on the importance of the ability to scale:

“I'd say that scale is one of the most important criteria that we have because we want to make bets on people that will end up figuring it out and have a survey that will save lives. When this happens, we obviously want this to go to millions and millions of people; so that's kind of the hope and dream of it. The way we define scale we define it as an intervention that can reach up to 1 million people. 

It doesn't necessarily need to be multi-country. We work with an organization called Luala that are influencing the way that health is provided to a million people in one district in Kenya. That's very important and we support those groups during the R&D phase.

But what we do expect then is to scale the work only when they have that strong evidence on hand, but also the right economics of that impact. We support them through that journey and fund them as long as they show us success every year. That's why having a set of metrics and scorecards and milestones-- We're not sticklers for, "Oh, you said you were going to do ten and you've only done nine. You're out the door." We understand that there are ups and downs and we're very long term funders."


Link to Jasmine here: https://www.jasmine.org.nz/

Job link here: especially good if you have VC experience - https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/view/3772687812/?refId=mWvBgen7Q5Cp9eFEMhn7yA%3D%3D&trackingId=mWvBgen7Q5Cp9eFEMhn7yA%3D%3D

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/6wWMoIZJUS4gPaCRBVoSlr?si=a11JPTy4T--MwfKDPVafHw

Transcript: https://www.thendobetter.com/investing/2023/11/29/nina-gen-venture-philanthropy-jasmine-social-investments-impact-investing-podcast

Pod links: https://pod.link/1562738506





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