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November Lecture Series Brief: Invested Development Founder Miguel Granier

By Olivia Allen 

 On Novem­ber 20, 2013, Miguel Granier, Founder and Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of Invested Devel­op­ment spoke with stu­dents ear­lier at the Social Enter­prise Institute’s Novem­ber lec­ture series event. Through­out his career, Granier oscil­lated between the tra­di­tional busi­ness and the social sec­tors. Granier served as a loan offi­cer at Accion, a com­mer­cial micro­fi­nance insti­tu­tion, and was the found­ing part­ner of First Light Ven­tures, a seed stage social invest­ment fund affil­i­ated with Gray Ghost Ven­tures. In found­ing Invested Devel­op­ment, an impact invest­ing firm, Granier has struck a bal­ance between the two sectors.

The firm, located in Boston and Nairobi, Kenya invests in enter­prise that align with tra­di­tional ven­ture cap­i­tal cri­te­ria – for profit enter­prises with high risk and high growth poten­tial. What sets Invested Devel­op­ment apart from from a tra­di­tional ven­ture cap­i­tal firms is its nar­row focus on cap­i­tal­iz­ing enter­prises in emerg­ing and under­served mar­kets that have devel­oped inno­v­a­tive market-driven solu­tions within alter­na­tive energy, agri­cul­tural tech­nol­ogy, and mobile tech­nol­ogy sectors.

Dur­ing the lec­ture, Granier spoke to the unique abil­ity of the pri­vate sec­tor to drive solu­tions to social needs, and cited the huge upswell in demand for mobile phones in the devel­op­ing world as an exam­ple of this phe­nom­e­non. The emer­gence of mobile phone tech­nolo­gies in the devel­op­ing world has been an inte­gral part of the most inno­v­a­tive solu­tions to energy, pub­lic health, and agri­cul­ture, and for this rea­son, has been a com­mon theme in Invested Development’s portfolio.

One such start up that has proved to be a par­tic­u­larly impact­ful com­pany within Invested Development’s port­fo­lio is Promethean Power Sys­tems. The social busi­ness addresses the gap in elec­tric­ity access in rural India through pro­duc­ing an effi­cient, cold-storage solu­tion for the 400 mil­lion peo­ple who lack access to reli­able power sources. This tech­nol­ogy — a metal silo that can refrig­er­ate milk for 8–12 hours — serves as an impor­tant inno­va­tion for the mar­ket, as $10 bil­lion worth of per­ish­able food items that spoil each year in India due to unre­li­able refrig­er­a­tion. Dur­ing his lec­ture, Granier empha­sized how the tech­nol­ogy is a par­tic­u­larly dis­rup­tive for farm­ers in India who pro­duce 102 mil­lion gal­lons of milk each year. Granier pre­dicts that this inno­va­tion will change the diary indus­try at large through its abil­ity to store milk more effi­ciently and expand the mar­ket for dairy prod­ucts beyond beyond paneer, which is ubiq­ui­tous in India because it doesn’t neces­si­tate refrigeration.  

When asked about the impact mea­sure­ment meth­ods the social busi­nesses in Invested Development’s port­fo­lio uses, Granier noted that many early stage start-ups do not have the capac­ity to mea­sure their impact, but use met­rics instead gauge their impact by how many con­sumers of the bot­tom of the pyra­mid have been reached by their prod­uct. In terms of how Invested Devel­op­ment inter­nally eval­u­ates which social enter­prises are lever­ag­ing the most social impact, Granier, like a true impact investor said, “What­ever is worth tak­ing less return.”