Our mission is to grow viable, sustainable and inclusive businesses that generate earnings or cost savings for people in Africa, Asia and Latin America

GBF is committed to providing equal opportunities to High Impact Entrepreneurs irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation to ensure they have access to appropriately structured capital and business advisory. We support businesses that do not discriminate and that are aligned with diversity principles. We work to ensure the lack of bias in GBF´s pre-investment and investment process, particularly in the selection, assessment and structuring of investments.

Our History

2004: GBF began as an initiative of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) which piloted grassroots business investments and field-tested capacity-building approaches.

2008: GBF split from IFC and became an independent non-profit which continued investing in – and providing advisory services to – high-impact businesses in Latin America, Asia and Africa. GBF also wins the G20 SME Challenge.

2011: GBF further evolved its model by establishing a $49M for-profit private investment fund, GBI-I. This investment fund is for patient capital investment, and raising additional funds for the non-profit arm, GBP, to be used for business advisory services to the fund’s portfolio companies. Together the fund and non-profit make up GBF, which provide powerful financial tools and business acumen to help strengthen and grow viable businesses that create lasting impact for low income people around the world. For  contributing to the creation of solid, sustainable and responsible financial systems, GBF wins the IDB Beyond Banking award for best action in socially responsible and/or impact investment.
2017: GBI-I completes its investment period, and fully commits all of its capital, totalling more than $40 million invested in high impact businesses across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.


Read our 2017 Annual Report for more

Hybrid Model

A for-profit private investment fund: The capital structure of GBI-I, GBF’s for-profit private investment fund, allows it to make equity, mezzanine equity, mezzanine debt and straight debt investments. These customized investments help align GBF’s overall portfolio performance with each investee’s performance. This allows GBF  to achieve most of its exits through company cash flows, while still receiving upside returns linked to the company’s success, and addressing investees’ liquidity concerns.

A donor-funded non-profit organization: The Grassroots Business Partners is GBF’s non-profit arm. It provides fund management services for GBI-I, provides business advisory services to the fund’s investees, and works to build the field of impact investing by providing insights on lesson learned impact measurement methodologies, and it’s model.



The fund  and non-profit combine to deliver a blend of capital and support suitable for long-term investment in businesses that provide opportunities to under-served communities.


Small and medium businesses play a key role in improving the lives of the poor, but there remains a shortage of enterprises in developing countries that are both ready for long-term investments and can generate high social impact.

GBF invests in High-Impact Businesses, which we define as those generating sustainable economic benefits for large numbers of people from vulnerable communities. They tend to have complicated business models and supply chains, but are generally underdeveloped in management, operations and planning.

Our model if hybrid investing helps us address the issues facing these businesses, by providing loing term flexible capital for investment and supprting skill building to improve business growth and increase lasting social impact. 

GBF focuses on for-profit companies that have the potential to achieve significant social impact

 Business Criteria: Growth stage companies with a strong track record & competitive advantage with high quality products/services.
Finance Criteria: Investments range from $500,000 to $2.5M with expected exit within 5 to 7 years of initial investment.  


Mission Criteria: Companies with strong commitment to bringing sustainable social and economic impact to low income communities. 
 Impact Criteria: Companies that directly impact 500+ individuals, with potential to increase 5 to 10 times over the period of investment.

See complete Investment Criteria

As a group, our investees are profitable, improving business management, and growing fast. Challenges remain, and it is difficult to say which improvements are due to specific GBF activities. GBF’s ultimate success will only become clear when the outcomes of our investments come to fruition and we can judge the resulting social impact.

Already, there are signs that our model of risk sharing capital, BAS and high-touch engagement help our clients improve their operations, build stronger businesses and create sustained social impact, As of December 31, 2017:

  • $43.4M capital committed
  • $18.8M principal & interest received

 Learn more in our  2017 Annual Report 

Business Advisory Services (BAS)

Businesses in emerging markets face big challenges, and oftentimes, investment alone is not enough to help scale a business. Our Business Advisory Services (BAS) are at the core to GBF’s model and have proven invaluable to investees.

All of our investees receive customized BAS support, mostly concentrating on strengthening financial management, operations, and strategy. GBF provides BAS during the early stages of our engagement with investees. We support catalytic BAS projects that help our clients grow to scale, become commercially sustainable, and create social impact.  GBF designs, executes, and monitors BAS in conjunction with our investment work. Our regional offices lead the efforts to manage and deliver BAS both directly and through third-party consultants.

We have a strong, growing network of senior experts and advisers in each of our regions who work closely with our investees to build internal capacity and drive high-level change programs. These advisers include agribusiness supply chain experts, financial managers, entrepreneurs, investors, and other business experts. In addition to our advisers, each region has at least one full time portfolio-level consultant working closely with investees on narrower issues such as cash flow management, environmental certification and  risk mitigation.

Learn more about BAS projects in our BAS factsheet 

BAS has helped ensure achievement of client growth potential by focusing on business fundamentals, anticipating and mitigating key risks, and taking advantage of key opportunities. In addition to showing healthy financial performance, investees have also, on average, improved along key business capability dimensions that aid investment success. As of June 2018:

  • 86% of GBF portfolio companies have skilled manager producing and monitoring operating indicators
  • 86%  of GBF portfolio companies have procedures in place to actively manage their environmental performance
  • 81% of GBF portfolio companies have a strong formal or informal network of advisors who regularly participate in governance meetings
  • 76% of GBF portfolio companies have a senior manager actively in charge of financial planning

GBF has a diverse portfolio comprised of a variety of beneficiaries and businesses spread throughout developing countries. This provides challenges in assessing our impact. GBF’s impact measurement methodology is pragmatic and attempts to assess our achievements, learn from our experiences and improve where needed. GBF’s approach is to collect self-reported metrics, confirm impact through surveys, and generate economic value calculations based on the information provided, in order to calculate the long term potential impact of GBF’s investees on vulnerable communities.

To remain conservative, GBF does not quantify secondary or indirect benefits but rather focuses on measurable outcomes to determine impact. For more, see Our Approach to Measurement.

GBF is funded by an active and dedicated group of investors and donors, who have helped shape GBF’s approach. The list below includes major donors and investors since 2008.

Donors to the Non-Profit:


Investors in the Fund:

Anonymous Investors 
Cordes Foundation 
Seth Meisel 

Barend van der Vorm 
Tamara Dunietz & David Dunn 
Sari Miller (Trust) 

DEG (German Development Bank) 
Lisa & Charly Kleissner 
Jane Eddy 
Mwaghazi Mwachofi 

Calvert Foundation 
Sangeeta & Sudhir Maheshwari  
Hornthal Investment Partners 
Luisa & Laurence Newman 

Deutsche Bank Foundation 
Liz Wedlan & Peter Braffman
Melinda Wolfe & Ken Inadomi 
Prashant Jhawar 

Adelson Family Foundation
Judson Berkey 
Marty Kahn 
Dalip Pathak 

Stephen Brenninkmeijer 
Suzanne Biegel
Serge Kremer
Harold Rosen & Susan Wedlan 

Montpelier Foundation 
Maurizio Caio 
Leah & Jeff Kronthal 
Sir David Scholey

T&J Meyer Family Foundation 
Kantian Foundation- Robert J. Caruso
Joshua Mailman
Wolfensohn & Company LLC