Impact & Innovation

Join our expert panelists for a discussion on impact and innovation in emerging markets private capital investments. 

Key topics to be discussed include:

  • A recap of market-based impact investing strategies, which focus on driving returns and measurably impactful non-financial outcomes.
  • What is driving the need for innovation within the impact investing community?
  • What innovative strategies are impact fund managers currently employing to engage the capital markets?
  • Case studies of innovative private capital practices such as:  unique fund structures, frontier markets investing and cutting edge technology investments.
  • What does the future hold for innovative investors in emerging markets?

Speakers Include


Alexander Benard, Chief Operating Officer, Schulze Global

Mr. Alexander Benard is Chief Operating Officer of Schulze Global, a private equity firm focused on the world’s most dynamic frontier markets. He also serves on several of the firm’s investment and credit committees. Mr. Benard previously worked as Managing Director of Gryphon Partners, an advisory and investment firm focused on the Middle East and Central Asia. At Gryphon, Mr. Benard oversaw the firm’s investment and joint venture activities and worked directly with senior executives from private and public companies in select advisory engagements in a variety of frontier markets. Prior to Gryphon, he was an attorney at Cleary Gottlieb, where he counseled clients in connection with cross-border mergers, acquisitions, and private equity transactions. These included TPG in its US$27.5 billion acquisition of Alltel and Barclays Capital in its US$1.75 billion acquisition of Lehman Brothers. At Cleary Gottlieb, Mr. Benard also helped structure various loan instruments, including PIK and mezzanine instruments related to the TPG-Alltel transaction. Mr. Benard is an active commentator on business strategy in frontier markets. He has published articles in Foreign Affairs, World Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Christian Science Monitor, among others, and has appeared on CNN and Voice of America. Mr. Benard holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Claremont McKenna College and a Juris Doctorate from Stanford Law School.

Monica Brand Engel, Partner, Quona Capital

Monica Brand Engel is a serial entrepreneur, having launched a number of investment vehicles and products aimed at broadening financial inclusion.  She is the founding managing director of Accion’s Frontier Investments Group, predecessor to Quona Capital – investment manager for the first dedicated global, fintech fund for the un and underbanked.  Monica spent her formative years in Silicon Valley and is a disciple of agile development and user-centered design.  While in the California Bay Area, Monica spent time walking the streets of the East Bay as a commercial loan officer of a green fund and helped launch a $50 million multi-bank lending intermediary to finance small businesses and community facilities.  Building on her interest in innovation and investment, Monica worked at Calvert Ventures, an early–stage equity vehicle, and helped the mutual fund launch its first index fund targeted at retail customers. Monica then turned her sights internationally, working with Anthuri Ventures – an early stage equity fund based in Cape Town, South Africa – and founded Anthuri Catalysts to help prepare potential portfolio companies for investment. Monica then joined Accion to set up their product innovation group and worked in Mexico with Compartamos Bank, the largest MFI in Latin America, before taking over Frontier Investments.

Monica holds an MBA and Masters of Education from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Williams College, where she graduated with honors. She currently serves as an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, teaching a graduate-level course on impact investing. Monica serves on numerous boards including Azimo, GloboKasNet, Paralife, Shubham Housing Finance Co. and Zoona. Monica chairs the Investor Representative Committee of LeapFrog Investments, the world’s first microinsurance fund. Monica lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and boy-girl twins, and travels often to her ancestral home of Peru.


Nimrod Gerber, Chief Executive Officer, Kora Housing

Mr. Gerber, Vital Capital Fund’s Housing & Infrastructure Expert, has served as CEO of Kora, the Fund’s sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) community development program, since 2011. Under Mr. Gerber’s leadership, Kora has grown from a small firm to a large corporation with more than 10,000 workers whose projects are planned to house more than 240,000 local citizens. During the past three years, Kora has built over 17,000 high-quality, affordable homes, and today is overseeing the construction of an additional 27,000 homes in 16 developments across six regions of Angola.

During his tenure, Mr. Gerber has implemented a number of successful large-scale Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects. In addition, he is leading Kora’s expansion into several other SSA nations.  Mr. Gerber also serves as a Board member of several companies in various sectors.

Prior to his work at Kora, Mr. Gerber held a variety of management and operational positions, ranging from General Manager of an Agribusiness/Water Infrastructure company to positions in the aeronautical and simulation industry.

Mr. Gerber holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science and Philosophy from Tel Aviv University and an MBA from Tel Aviv Open University


Joan Trant, Director of Marketing & Impact, TriLinc Global

Joan Trant is the Director of Marketing and Impact and is a key member of the TriLinc Global Executive Management team with responsibility for accelerating fund sales through specific channels, helping build the TriLinc brand, and leading the Company’s efforts to support the continued development of the impact investing industry. Prior to joining TriLinc Global, Joan launched and was Executive Director of the International Association of Microfinance Investors (IAMFI). IAMFI’s Limited Partner members’ microfinance commitments/investments totaled $780 million, and General Partner members managed an aggregate portfolio of $1.84 billion. IAMFI led the microfinance investment industry with proprietary research, contributions to third party publications, educational and networking meetings, tailored member services and consensus-building for investor best practices.

Prior to IAMFI, Joan was Deputy Executive Director of The Resource Foundation, supporting community-building programs in 20 Latin American countries, benefiting annually 4.6 million underserved children, youths, women and men. Previously, Joan spent 15 years in the financial services industry, holding international sales, financial advisory and operations management positions at Bankers Trust and Citibank, with direct experience in the Spanish, Mexican and Argentine markets. She oversaw a combined portfolio of $225 million in client assets.

Joan is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business Executive Level Nonprofit Management Certification Program. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. degree from Georgetown University. Joan serves as an advisor to Inspiring Capital and co-leads the Georgetown Alumni College program in New York City. She is fluent in Spanish with working knowledge of Portuguese. Joan is based in Manhattan.


Moderator: Kathleen Berroth, Director, Investments, Omidyar Network

Kathleen brings a diverse background in traditional and social impact finance to her role as a director at Omidyar Network, where she helps to evaluate and select new investment opportunities across geographies and initiatives, manage the firm’s investment portfolio, and drive investment portfolio learnings for greatest impact.

Prior to joining Omidyar Network, Kathleen was an investment officer on the program related investments team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where she oversaw investments across multiple Foundation priorities ranging from biotech to education technology companies. While at the Foundation, she was also a Board Observer at Acrobatiq and Bloomboard. Kathleen previously worked as the acting financial controller of a Ghana-based startup as part of the Acumen Global Fellows Program. Earlier in her career, Kathleen worked in investment banking with Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital in New York and Hong Kong, where she was focused on equity capital markets across industries. She was also a founding board member of Roots of Health, a Philippines-based nonprofit focused on providing holistic women’s health education and clinical services.

Kathleen received an MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business and a B.A. in Japanese studies from Wellesley College. 


Interested in impact investing or ESG in private equity in emering markets? Join us and the FT at the inaugural Sustainable Investing in Emering Markets leadership summit on 25 October 2016 in London. Learn more »