If you’ll get somebody well-known to launch your international enterprise formally, it’s exhausting to do higher than President Invoice Clinton.
But as Andy Kuper will attest, it may be a nerve-racking expertise.
Again in September 2008, President Clinton was so impressed with Andy’s new firm, Leapfrog Investments, that he determined he would unveil it throughout his keynote speech on the annual assembly of his Clinton World Initiative basis.
It meant that President Clinton would invite the then 33-year-old Andy on to the stage to talk to the few hundred attendees on the occasion in New York.
Andy says: “I had finished quite a lot of public talking earlier than, however this was a rock ‘n’ roll factor. I used to be frightened about stumbling on the steps and falling on the president.”
Fortunately for Andy, he managed to remain on his ft and provides a speech that wasn’t too overshadowed by President Clinton’s well-known oratorical skills.
Andy says: “President Clinton was wonderful, he’s an unbelievable public speaker, I owe him an ideal deal.”
However why was President Clinton so impressed with a South African businessman he had solely just lately met?
Andy had bold plans to assist remodel the lives of a whole lot of tens of millions of individuals within the creating world, to assist pull them out of poverty.
As an alternative of giving them support, his plan was to spend money on, assist run and increase indigenous firms, principally insurance coverage and healthcare funds, in order that populations wouldn’t be blighted by ill-health.
And as a substitute of being a charity or non-profit organisation, Leapfrog deliberate to be very a lot profit-making and supply its traders an honest charge of return. The concept was to make globalisation and capitalism work for the world’s poorest individuals.
After a really sluggish begin, the enterprise right this moment has greater than $1bn (£800m) of funds on its books. It at the moment invests in 16 firms throughout 22 international locations in Africa and Asia which have a mixed 100,000 staff and serve 91 million individuals.
The son of anti-apartheid campaigners and introduced up on a farm exterior of Johannesburg, Andy does not appear certified to run a world funding agency on first look at his CV.
He has no enterprise and as a substitute studied philosophy at college, earlier than happening to lecture within the topic.
But he began investing within the inventory market aged 10, utilizing cash he produced from promoting the household’s crops on the facet of the highway. By aged 13, he was being profitable for purchasers.
After attending the College of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Andy went to Cambridge College. It was whereas at Cambridge that Andy spent a summer time working for a non-government organisation in India, which he mentioned was “considered one of his most formative experiences” and is the genesis of his future concept for Leapfrog.
“We had been attempting to get Indian farmers to undertake drip irrigation, which may triple their manufacturing and carry them out of poverty,” says Andy, now 41.
“However they simply would not do it. On the time, I assumed they had been being so irrational, however they weren’t – they weren’t ready to take the chance of doing one thing new and seeing their crops fail because of this. Why? As a result of this is able to have meant that their youngsters starved.
“So I assumed, why do not we give these individuals a security web to allow them to take an opportunity on bettering themselves, corresponding to insurance coverage cowl.”
‘Revenue with objective’
After spending his 20s lecturing and heading up an organisation that helps social entrepreneurs, Andy began work on Leapfrog. Initially, he received nowhere quick, as a result of, he says, the thought was so new.
He says: “It appeared near unimaginable to start with, however I simply believed so basically within the concept, which I name revenue with objective, of investing in firms that serve the opposite half of humanity – the 4 billion those that conventionally haven’t been served.”
With no cash coming in, Andy needed to reside off his and his spouse’s financial savings till Leapfrog received its first small funding after a yr and a half.
The Clinton connection then adopted, because of Andy realizing somebody who labored for the organisation.
Nonetheless, the president’s September 2008 speech failed to instantly open the funding floodgates, as a result of it was shortly overshadowed by international occasions.
Per week later, funding financial institution Lehman Brothers collapsed and the world was plunged into the worldwide monetary disaster.
But regardless of this backdrop, Leapfrog was in a position to safe $135m of funding by late 2009. As we speak its institutional traders embrace Goldman Sachs, Axa, JP Morgan, AIG, Swiss Re and the European Funding Financial institution.
Firms that Leapfrog invests in and helps run embrace All Life, a South African insurance coverage agency that offers low price cowl to individuals with HIV, Kenyan pharmacy chain Goodlife, and India’s Mahindra Insurance coverage Brokers. Andy says that Leapfrog helps the corporations see revenues develop by a mean 43% per yr.
Robert van Zwieten, president of Rising Market Personal Fairness Affiliation, the commerce group for corporations that spend money on the creating world, says that Andy and Leapfrog have been “trailblazers” in serving to to create a brand new business often called “influence investing”. These are corporations that make investments each to generate profits and to attain a optimistic social influence.
He provides: “The annual World Financial Discussion board (WEF) occasion at Davos has for a number of years been struggling to work out the right way to make globalisation and capitalism work for the numerous and never simply the few, however Andy and his group at Leapfrog are already doing simply that.”
Now primarily based in Sydney, Australia, after beforehand being in New York, Andy says: “You are able to do extra good if you’re worthwhile, and make extra revenue since you are good [doing virtuous things].”