Relief and development is a massive worldwide industry, albeit conducted on a nonprofit basis, while “bottom of the pyramid” strategies have been attractive to multinational companies looking to radically expand their user base through products and services that are accessible to low-income individuals and families. As important as these strategies are, neither is likely to generate long-term growth in countries with below-average GDP.
Instead, the greatest opportunities for social impact in developing contexts will come from infrastructure that allows for more infrastructure— systems that encourage businesses to create jobs, health systems to provide a higher baseline of care, and governments to root out corruption.
We're interested in ventures with a scalable view of infrastructure creation. Much has been done through microfinance and banking over the past few decades, but more is possible. As worldwide payment systems modernize, health care systems improve, and technology offers opportunities to leapfrog broken Western systems, opportunities abound.
In today’s commercially-driven world people are more likely to be seen and referred to as 'consumers' than anything else. Instead of being met with resistance, this shift has often meant that individuals have formed their identity through a composite of brands, and product purchasing can be guided more by the desire to make a statement about one’s identity and values than strict utility. As a result, the lines between social movement, capitalism, and community are increasingly blurry (see: Nike, Whole Foods, and Patagonia).
Given this reality (which is with us for both better and worse), we’d like to support entrepreneurs with a vision for building brands with a counter-culturally virtuous and optimistic view of the world, spreading hope and beauty, eliminating stigma, and most fundamentally, redirecting our identity away from materialistic consumption and toward lasting contentment.