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EMpact launches its venture studio in Central America, heralding a new approach to impact investing in frontier markets. Plans underway for subsequent launches in Africa and Central Asia


October 2, 2023 I Antigua, Guatemala

Today witnessed the launch of EMpact, a venture studio focused on nurturing talent and accelerating startups to serve critical value chains, focusing on frontier markets in Central America, West Africa, and Central Asia. The first studio is a collaboration between EMpact and Fundación Génesis Empresarial (Genesis), the largest development microfinance institution in Guatemala. The studio will promote entrepreneurship and capacity building across the Central America region through the “Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub” of Genesis and Universidad Francisco Marroquín – (UFM) a leading academic institution in the country, which promotes free market principles and entrepreneurship.

 

“The issues facing humanity and our planet are interlinked, and a big part has to do with how we access, cultivate, and sustain natural resources, including agriculture and forestry”, said Sami Lahoud and Prateek Shrivastava, co-founders of EMpact. “Catalyzing innovations in agriculture value chains, through entrepreneurship, creates stability and opportunity in frontier markets while sustaining the global economy and restoring our planet through sustainable practices”, they added.

 

The studio addresses the most critical issue facing entrepreneurship in frontier markets, which is the upskilling of talent. Individuals are invited to apply to become “EMpact fellows” who will be coached in innovation and entrepreneurship. Then, the studio will help fellows design digitally enabled solutions that address the needs and pain-points of its corporate partners. And finally, incubated businesses will graduate into a startup accelerator that will help each team turn their solutions into investment-ready businesses through mentorship, access to essential shared services, and opening doors to additional corporate partners.

 

The EMpact model also allows for winning solutions, whether incubated by EMpact or operating independently, to be replicated by fellows in other markets or verticals. The first such portfolio company is Climatica, a solution that accelerates financial inclusion of small holder farmers through climate smart agriculture.

 

“Fighting poverty through empowerment and improving food security in the face of climate change are daunting and expensive undertakings”, said Lars Saquero Møller, Managing Director of Ingemann Data, that operates Climatica. He added “EMpact provides a framework to scale the outreach of innovative solutions, such as ours, to address these challenges. Their fresh approach and value proposition are needed to disrupt the traditional system.”

 

The design of the EMpact venture studio has been inspired by the pioneering work of CK Japheth, Founder of The Innovation Village in Uganda and a member of the EMpact Advisory Board, who said “We recognized that embracing models tailored to mature markets would not work for us, so we embarked on a journey of unbridled innovation, fueled by a relentless passion to make a difference. Every lesson we’ve gathered has led us to this vibrant collaboration with EMpact”.

 

The EMpact studio in Guatemala will ultimately serve the Latin American region. In parallel, the founders of EMpact are preparing for the launch of EMpact Africa from a studio in Côte d’Ivoire serving the Francophone West Africa region. At a later stage, the plan is to include additional frontier markets such as the ones in Central Asia, and to start interconnecting these markets, capitalizing on their organic similarities and complementarities.  

 

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About EMpact

 

EMpact is a venture studio serving critical value chains in frontier markets by addressing chronic issues afflicting these markets and affecting our planet. EMpact drives change through the incubation of talent, then creating and incubating businesses that address the needs of key players in these value chains with focus on agriculture. The final step in this venture studio model is to extend pre-seed equity funding to the budding startups, handhold them through the initial phase of their growth journey, and then – over time – hand them over to later stage investors. 

 

www.empact.studio