40 - The charity that gave birth to a $300M global impact asset manager

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Investing in emerging markets isn't easy. Investing in emerging markets when you want to make a positive social and environmental impact presents even more challenges. For instance, raising capital is more challenging because you have to overcome both the typical investor belief that positive impact will come at a cost to returns and the tendency to write off unfamiliar markets as far too risky.

Today's guest co-founded an asset management firm that has successfully navigated these challenges on its path to growing its asset base to over $300M USD. Serge LeVert-Chiasson is Managing Director of Impact & COO at Sarona Asset Management; an asset manager investing in private equity & private debt in frontier and emerging markets around the world.

What's especially interesting is that Sarona was born out of a relatively small, but highly respected charitable organization known as MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates); which itself got its start in 1953 as a social enterprise when 7 North American Mennonite business people began running a dairy farm with Ukrainian Mennonite refugees in Paraguay who had escaped the 2nd world war.

During this episode of the podcast, Serge and I discuss Sarona's unique history and how that shapes its culture to this day; the way Sarona invests in and alongside financial intermediaries in emerging & frontier markets; its approach to impact measurement & management as a fund of funds, the role that faith plays in many communities across the globe, examples of the types of direct and indirect investments that Sarona makes, and Serge's involvement in CAFIID (Canada Forum for Impact Investment & Development). And be sure to stay tuned to the very end when Serge shares his thoughts for what is necessary for unlocking more impact investment dollars into emerging and frontier markets.

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