Author: Real Leaders

Investing For Impact

Founded by entrepreneur Andrew Kuper and launched with President Bill Clinton in 2008, LeapFrog set out to reach 25 million vulnerable people, including 15 million women and children, within 10 years. In just 3.5 years, LeapFrog’s portfolio companies have reached nearly 10 million people in emerging markets – 70% of them women and children – providing millions of families a financial safety net and springboard to escape poverty. According to President Clinton, “LeapFrog’s team is widely recognized as having opened up a new frontier in microfinance and alternative investment.” Since their launch in 2008, they have become a global leader and pioneer in the impact investing movement, with distinctive success at scale: their average deal size of $12 million is roughly 8x the industry average. Their unique business model, a team across four continents and a community of influential stakeholders has created a company that can operate at the scale necessary to make a dent in mass poverty. Both sustainability and social justice are central to LeapFrog’s vision. They have simultaneously played a major role in creating a new asset class, offering diversification and top quartile investment returns, and opened the gates of the capital markets to innovative pro-poor companies. Not surprisingly, LeapFrog’s portfolio companies have shown strong financial performance while serving the “next billion” rising consumers. In addition, an accelerated growth trajectory at their portfolio companies increases employment...

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The “It” Artist of the Green Movement

Chris Jordan is a photographic artist who uses his artworks to bring awareness to a serious problem of our time – consumerism. Seen from afar his images look like modern recreations of famous masterpieces, but as soon as he approaches the viewer is confronted with thousands of photographs of waste assembled into a beautiful picture. He’s been called “the ‘it’ artist of the green movement” for his ability to send clear messages about mass consumption through beautiful images that end up disgusting the viewer. But while he’s always been interested in photography, he studied law school and became a corporate lawyer who only dedicated his free time to his favorite hobby. His father, a businessman, had also been passionate about photography and Chris remembers he “was filled with regret” that he couldn’t practice it full time. So, determined not to repeat his mistake, the young lawyer moved to Seattle, and quit the bar after ten years of practicing law, to dedicate his life to photography. It was definitely a risky move, but definitely an inspired one as the success of his early shows in New York and Los Angeles propelled his career. Chris Jordan came to tackle consumerism by chance. He had taken photos of a pile of garbage and found it beautiful because of its complexity and great color, but when friends of his, who were active in...

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Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business

by John Mackey & Raj Sisodia “The shift in management paradigm is as transformational as the shift from the medieval view that the sun revolves around the earth to the view that earth and the other planets revolve around the sun. It is a fundamental transition in world-view. Once you make this shift, everything is different.”   ~ From a book review by Steve Denning, Forbes.com Do you notice anything different about your business over the past decade? How about anything different about business in general? Or about the way you approach business? Given your role as a Real Leader, you may already be aware of the fundamental shift Denning refers to in his review of Conscious Capitalism. This shift reflects rapidly expanding expectations for the role of business in society, and the increasing desire among entrepreneurs and business leaders to make a difference through business. How do we make sense of this sea change? Where do we find a body of best practices case studies for leading businesses in this new imperative? And where do we connect with peers and role models who share this vision? Conscious Capitalism is an idea, a movement, an approach to conducting business, and an organization dedicated to advancing all of these. Conscious Capitalism builds on the foundations of capitalism – voluntary exchange, entrepreneurship, competition, freedom to trade and the rule of law. These...

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The Cleaner Planet Plan

You might assume that a giant global consumer goods company such as Unilever achieving quarterly growth of  7.1 percent could be attributed to large amounts of research and some clever future forecasting, and you’d be right, to a certain degree. Yet every great business is based on individuals who recognize opportunity through personal experience, and not what has been fed to you from your marketing team. Peter ter Kulve is one such person. As Chairman of Unilever Benelux he is riding a wave of product innovation and profitability based on the carefully observed needs of consumers, mainly in emerging markets. Unilever has drawn up a sustainable living plan which acknowledges that small actions can make a big difference. On any given day, 2 billion people worldwide use a Unilever product – to wash their hair, clean their clothes or butter their bread. Unilever have been number one on the Dow Jones sustainability index for the last 11 years and is a recognized sustainability leader in their field. “This does not, however, make us an NGO,” says ter Kulve. “Our approach is still about making the company grow faster and making more profit, but a key belief is that we will do better business in a healthy society than in an unhealthy society. Healthy business needs healthy society.” There is an increasing group of consumers where the ethical issues of a...

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