An evening stroll down Paseo Montejo, a beautiful boulevard that maintains its colonial architectural charm near downtown Merida, makes you reflect on what many Latin American towns aspire to be: safe, clean and prospering communities. That’s where we had the pleasure to join over 400 entrepreneurs, investors and social and environmental change-makers at the 8th Annual Latin America Impact Investing Forum (FLII) last week. The theme of this year’s agenda “Together for a Resilient Region” seemed only fitting given that so much of the news today centers around the violence, corruption, pollution, and inequality taking place in many of the region’s countries. These are all real problems that need to be overcome but they also desperately need affordable and accessible water supply systems, access to clean energy, affordable housing, and financial inclusion, all of which can contribute to reducing poverty and ensuring economic growth.
It was inspiring to see so many people from such diverse organizations coming together wanting to lift some of the barriers to this region’s sustainable development. Notwithstanding those differences, there were two recurring elements that were present across panels and discussions, the first one being collaboration. We all know that a single organization, a single idea or a single entrepreneur, no matter how brilliant, cannot make a difference on their own; we need to work together to have an exponential effect in the communities that need it the most. Collaboration among public development funding organizations, NGOs, family offices and foundations, entrepreneurs, and private capital funds. We were all looking for creative ways to help these countries move forward and to get them closer to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
And that is where the second recurring element came in: innovation. Meaningful conversations took place surrounding innovation: from the use of new technologies such as blockchain to reduce transaction costs and improve use of education subsidies, to innovating in the way microfinance institutions serve their clients; from using behavioral science to improve voluntary retirement savings among those in the bottom of the pyramid, to putting together innovative financing structures and blended finance to catalyze more resources into the region. There were many interesting ideas that many of us will continue to assess and incorporate into our investment criteria.
Deetken Impact is committed to continue to invest in the Latin American and Caribbean region and we will be incorporating more innovative ways to make social and environmental impact in our future projects, and we will certainly do that in collaboration with many of those we met at the FLII last week.