Defining Impact

on May 29, 2016 | in Ecosystem, Ideas, Portfolio

Aviary is an impact seed fund, investing in mission-driven for-profit startups from around the world.

But what do we mean by impact?

“What is impact?” is a question asked each year at SOCAP, at every Toniic gathering and Investors Circle national meeting. This question gets asked, but for many impact investors, no answer is satisfactory.

Too often, the answer is a variation of the Supreme Court phrase, “I know it when I see it.”

At Aviary, we know it when we see it too, but as so many entrepreneurs ask us whether their idea fits what we’re looking for, let’s spell out there a more firm definition of what we mean by “impact”, and what we mean by “mission” in “mission-driven”.

In short, we want to see the biggest problems of the world solved.

  • Poverty
  • Hunger
  • Health
  • Waste
  • Carbon

We want to see for-profit ideas that can increase the incomes of the poorest people. To increase access to food, improve the quality of food, and lower the waste of food. We seek companies solving problems in global health. Companies that find new uses for what today are waste products. We want to see not only the end of the oil economy, but at the same time an end to deforestation caused by burning wood for fuel.

These are hard problems to solve.  In most cases, these are problems that have been the targets of nonprofits and governments for the last many decades.  None the less, the core thesis underlying Aviary is that the only way we’ll completely solve any of these problems is through the power of the for-profit sector, and while we don’t expect any Aviary company by itself to solve any of these problems, we are looking for startups that can make a meaningful and measurable change.

Picture sourced from Flickr
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