An illustration of how the world can be
My name is Tammy Newmark and I am CEO and Managing Partner of EcoEnterprises Fund. EcoEnterprises Fund is a women-owned and -led venture with a focus on critical natural ecosystems and working landscapes in Latin America and the Caribbean. The premier fund in biodiversity investing, we finance growing businesses to preserve and restore natural habitats, promote climate action and create social equity concurrent with generating financial returns.
Locally-anchored and gender-smart portfolio
For two decades, EcoEnterprises Fund has built important relationships with our portfolio companies. We are lead investors. We provide tailored financial solutions to help small, sustainable companies grow, and offer them advice on how to better engage with local communities.
One of EcoEnterprises Fund’s first investments was in Sambazon. Sambazon’s trajectory mirrors our own, expanding the business to demonstrate sustainable economic development and community well-being at scale. Sambazon is the global leader in processing and marketing FairTrade, organic açaí grown in the Amazon, and harvested by local peoples.
Sambazon collaborates with small producers to sustainably source the açaí berries from palm trees along the Amazon River. The company then transforms these berries into açaí bowls, which are exported to Europe and the US to form healthy breakfasts and juices.
Sambazon acts as an example of how to operate sustainably in this context, environmentally, socially and financially; providing an innovative model to benefit land and peoples. The company has been a first mover in terms of biodiversity management plans, turning waste into a source of energy, investing in education and social services in the local communities.
Biodiversity is one of our top priorities. If you look at the top ten countries in the world with the highest biodiversity, half of them are in Latin America, with Brazil at the top.
Another one of our portfolio companies is Equilibria, an agroforestry company. Founded with the mission to “transform lives through organic agriculture”, they work with local farmers in Colombia to convert 2,000 ha of former cattle farms into organic orchards and boost the competitiveness of Colombia’s agricultural sector by enhancing productivity at the farm level and increasing penetration of international markets. In addition, Equilibria aims to include more women in the workforce in a sector traditionally comprised of men. With EcoEnterprises Fund’s technical assistance, Equilibria has launched its Empowering Women programme, which covers the cost of complementary courses in areas such as business and financial management, agricultural best practices, and soft skills that will provide a strong foundation for women’s professional advancement on its team.
We would like to thank BIO for hosting EcoEnterprises Fund’s investors, team, and Investment Committee this November.
BIO’s equity investment, recent technical assistance, and continued support have been invaluable to achieving our impact outcomes.
Investing in small to medium-sized growth companies presents inherent challenges associated with managing business operations, navigating supply and demand fluctuations, addressing cashflow concerns, and managing institutional and other capacities, along with macro dynamics in the market. EcoEnterprises Fund's portfolio of nature-based solutions companies not only grapple with these typical business challenges but also have distinct social and environmental impact goals as part of their mission, taking into consideration their employees, their products and supply chain, introducing an additional layer of complexity.
Our objective is to identify companies that align closely with our mission. We seek businesses that integrate sustainability and the well-being of local communities into their core strategy. Many of our investee companies operate in the field of regenerative agriculture, a pivotal component of the core economic sector in rural Latin America. This sector, while notably sensitive to climate change-related challenges such as droughts, floods, temperature fluctuations, and soil erosion, also holds substantial potential to actively contribute to climate resilience, adaptation, and mitigation solutions.
This is not (just) my story: while EcoEnterprises Fund has been my life's work and passion, it's the team and our portfolio companies that provide the inspiration and success.
Because of EcoEnterprises Fund’s legacy, we have learned to cherry pick the best business models in the region. We may identify a promising company, but choose to defer our investment in them, saying “Oh, they are not ready yet. Let’s see their business model work, let’s see the learning and let’s see the overall development of the company to get to that next level that we could then invest in them to then uplift them to a higher level”.
Our enduring patience and steadfast commitment to long-term relationships have played a pivotal role in ensuring the resilience of our portfolio companies amid the significant crises of the past two decades – from the aftermath of 9/11 in 2001 to the economic meltdown of 2008 and the global impact of the COVID pandemic. It brings us great satisfaction that all our companies successfully weathered these challenges. The robustness of our portfolio has positioned us to elevate these companies to the next level.
What sets them apart is their adaptability and agility, qualities that have proven essential in navigating the multifaceted challenges of the past, including supply and demand fluctuations, inflation, logistics, transportation, and the myriad issues posed by the global pandemic. These historically small enterprises have honed the ability to prioritise, rejuvenate, and persevere, instilling in them a resilience that has been instrumental in their survival and ultimate success.
It's truly remarkable to witness these companies taking the lead in advancing the overarching objective of planetary health, which has been our mission for the past two decades. Our goal has always been to encourage and garner support from various stakeholders to recognise the significance of this mission.
Market trends have significantly played into our hands, with the growing emphasis on health and wellness, heightened awareness regarding the importance of ecosystems, a concentrated focus on land and water conservation, and, most recently, the recognition of natural resources as a critical theme at local, regional, and global levels. The ongoing discussions about climate solutions and the increased understanding of the vital role biodiversity plays further underscore the progress we've made in bringing these essential issues to the forefront of collective consciousness.
Sharing Lessons Learned
EcoEnterprises Fund is proud that we were part of the process of mainstreaming the concept of biodiversity investing, and that we were able to act as a catalyst for other investors to come in and explore these portfolios for our planet. Our goal is to highlight compelling investment opportunities, enabling companies not only to survive but thrive, becoming exemplars in their sectors and catalysing the emergence of new sectors and business models.
As sustainable venture champions, we actively disseminate our knowledge and insights. We published our first book, detailing the lessons learned from our first portfolio: Portfolio for the Planet: Lessons from 10 years of Impact investing. Our second book will come out by year-end 2023, Impact Investing for a Sustainable Planet: Insights from EcoEnterprises Fund. Through these publications, and sharing of case studies, we strive to encourage other entrepreneurs, visionaries and business leaders to look at the importance of these environmental and social outcomes, and firmly embed them into the formula to success in business.
We see our portfolio as an illustration of how the world can be, how sustainable companies can thrive. You need that inclusiveness, you need that elevation of voice of all the stakeholders in the process. You need to work with local communities, to preserve and conserve that land that we all depend upon. Our portfolio companies lead the way and I continue to be humbled and honoured by EcoEnterprises Fund’s journey.
My name is Tammy Newmark and I am CEO and Managing Partner of EcoEnterprises Fund.
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