“Venture philanthropy”, a term coined by John D. Rockefeller III in 1969, uses concepts from venture capital finance and business management to achieve philanthropic goals. It involves applying principles similar to those of venture capital funding to support innovative, growth-oriented, and risk-taking ventures that promote social or environmental good in the contexts in which they operate. In the US, this is considered programme-related investing (PRI). At Fondation Botnar, ‘venture philanthropy’ isn’t just a concept; it’s a commitment to thinking innovatively, taking risks and using all means necessary to effect lasting change for young people, reflecting Octav Botnar’s entrepreneurial spirit.
At Fondation Botnar, we take an entrepreneurial approach to driving the change we want to see, from our grantmaking to our other forms of engagement, such as venture philanthropy. We believe that systems that fully support the wellbeing of young people need a thriving, socially conscious private sector, particularly in cities. We therefore collaborate with a range of stakeholders, including the public and private sectors, local communities, and global investors, to create an environment where purpose-led social ventures are supported and recognised for their meaningful contributions.
We invest in early-stage start-up companies that have the potential to positively shift the health, education, and technology sectors, maximising their impact on the livelihoods and wellbeing of young people in low- and middle-income countries. We aim that our investments enable healthier societies through access to relevant and affordable products and services while fostering positive relationships with employees, consumers, and communities.
To ensure our investments align with this goal, we’ve established specific criteria for target investee companies:
- For-profit with social and environmental impact: We seek for-profit companies that prioritise creating social and environmental impact, particularly benefiting the needs and demands of young people.
- Contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): The needs and demands of young people often relate to the SDGs. We’ve identified key sectors where our investments can make a difference in urban settings:
- Quality health services (including HealthTech)
- Environmental sustainability and ecological resilience (e.g., access to clean/renewable energy)
- Local food and nutritional security
- Water, sanitation, and hygiene
- Waste management
- Digital technologies, data, and communication (e.g., internet access)
- Quality education (including EdTech and vocational training)
- Access to employment (including HRTech)
- Financial services and financial inclusion (including FinTech)
- Safe and sustainable transportation
- Affordable housing (including PropTech)
- Early-stage ventures: Fondation Botnar embraces risk and focuses on early-stage ventures seeking pre-seed to Series A capital. We reserve follow-on capital to support successful portfolio companies.
- Strategic partnerships: We source prospective investee companies through our network and collaborate with partners who have a strong local presence. Our current partners include New Ventures (Latin America), SAGANA (Asia), and Seedstars (Africa).
- Capacity building: As part of our commitment to venture philanthropy, Fondation Botnar offers capacity building to investee companies.
- Impact management: Beyond financial and operational metrics, we collect impact KPIs from our investee companies to assess their social and environmental impact.
With a special focus on enhancing the wellbeing of young people around the world, we are committed to creating lasting change through strategic investments in purpose-led ventures. Together with our partners, we pioneer initiatives that not only meet the needs of young people today but also contribute to a future that supports their wellbeing.
South and Southeast Asia