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Resources created and curated to support the growth of impact investing, for those new to the field and for experienced practitioners.

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ImpactAssets 50: A Global Landscape of Impact Investment Fund Managers
The ImpactAssets 50 (IA 50) is the first open-source, publicly published database of experienced private debt and equity impact investment fund managers.
http://www.impactassets.org/impactassets-50

ImpactAssets 50

An Annual Showcase of Impact Investment Fund Managers

SEAF (Small Enterprise
Assistance Funds)

Total Assets Under Management: >$250MM
Asset Class: Private Debt - Absolute Return / Notes, Private Equity
Geographic Focus:
Impact Investment Focus:
Clean Technology
Health and Wellness
Affordable Housing and Community Development
Fair Trade
Education and Charter Schools
Natural Resources and Conservation
Water and Sanitation
Media, Technology and Mobile
Sustainable Agriculture
Small and Medium Business Development
Microfinance/Low-Income Financial Services/Micro-insurance
Global Health

Firm Overview

SEAF is an impact investment fund management group with over 27 years of providing growth capital and business assistance to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in emerging markets underserved by traditional sources of capital. Our mission is to improve lives and communities through entrepreneur-led development, with investing and business support being our key drivers. A global leader in SME impact investing, SEAF has managed or is managing 35 Funds and 13 Centers for Entrepreneurship and Executive Development (CEED) across 26 countries. SEAF has made over 400 impact investments and realized approximately 200 exits from these funds, while achieving significant impact consistent with its mission. SEAF understands that it is vital  to have a local presence for effective deal sourcing and vetting (networks, language, culture, context, etc.), which is why we have built strong offices with local teams. SEAF has an extensive track record of establishing local fund management capacity, and in investing in SMEs in emerging markets in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia. 
Firm Headquarters: US & Canada
Years of Operation: More than 10 years
Total Assets Under Management:
>$250MM
Total Number of Investors: More than 25
% of Capital from Top 3 Investors: Less than 25%
Investment Thesis:
SEAF's investment thesis is to provide risk capital (equity, quasi-equity and venture debt) and business assistance to SMEs in emerging market to achieve targeted financial returns and social impact of each respective fund. Targeted financial returns (deal, portfolio and net) are a function of investor preferences, deal instruments to be used, market conditions, etc. with targeted social and environmental impact being a function of the theme/sector focus of a given fund. Nevertheless, any targeted impact will contribute to SEAF's mission of improving lives and communities and be part of SEAF's theory of change for that theme or sector.

Investment Example

In 2010, SEAF invested in Solaric, a clean energy company focused on improving Bangladesh's energy structure through home solar systems and nanogrids. Funded by SEAF's Bangladesh fund, Solaric created a cost-efficient solar-powered system that was not dependent on the existing grid. The Company minimized capital expenditure by designing the system on a high-voltage DC platform, addressing the issue of scalability at every level, from generation of power to the load in. It decentralized billing and collection operations an expensive part that gets offloaded onto consumers. 245,000 people in 35,000 households, spanning 5,000 villages have received access to clean, renewable energy for the first time. The technology has helped to lower kerosene dependency, with over 130,000 kerosene lamps having been replaced, while aiding the transition from noisy, polluting diesel generators to efficient technology. And while solar-powered systems aren't always cheaper, it has reduced energy costs from $25 to approximately $10 a month.

Leadership and Team

Cumulative Leadership Experience in Investing:
More than 30 years
Cumulative Impact Experience of Top Three Firm Leaders:
More than 30 years
Bert van der Vaart – Chief Executive Officer More Info

Hubertus Jan (Bert) van der Vaart co-founded Small Enterprise Assistance Funds (SEAF) in 1989, when it was known as the CARE Small Business Assistance Corporation (CARESBAC). In 1992, Mr. van der Vaart negotiated the establishment of CARESBAC/SEAF’s first fund in Poland, which grew to $16.8 million total capital under management under his leadership as the fund’s Director General. While serving as Director-General of CARESBAC-Polska from August 1994 until May 1997, the company completed 27 SME investments and realized its first 6 exits. In 1997, Mr. van der Vaart was appointed CEO and President of SEAF, where he has since been involved with the establishment and supervision of every SEAF fund, frequently traveling to collaborate with each SEAF fund office. In 2008, he became Executive Chairman of SEAF’s Board of Directors and became associated with Discovery Global Citizens Fund, an international investment firm. Mr. van der Vaart moved to New Delhi, India in September 2010, where he directed the initial phase of SEAF’s India Agribusiness Fund, completing his work in 2012. Mr. van der Vaart has served as CEO of SEAF since 2012.

David Mathewson – President More Info

David Mathewson joined SEAF as President in 2016. Mr. Mathewson chairs SEAF’s Global Investment Committee and senior management team and supports the CEO in overseeing the strategic development and operations of SEAF. Prior to joining SEAF, Mr. Mathewson had partnered with Delphos International to pursue opportunistic investments in emerging market private equity transactions and impact investment funds. From 2010 to 2015, Mr. Mathewson served as Senior Managing Director of Darby Private Equity/Franklin Templeton, with chief operating officer responsibility for the financial, administration, ESG and business development aspects of Darby’s global private equity operations.

Bob Webster – Managing Director - Impact Investing Strategy More Info

Bob Webster is Managing Director – Impact Investing Strategy at SEAF, based in Washington, D.C. He has a multi-faceted role while sitting on SEAF’s Global Investment Committee, which approves all new investments, restructurings, exits and ongoing valuations. Bob’s role includes ensuring that impact is embedded in every SEAF process, supporting new fund raises and launches, offering thought leadership to the impact investing space, and designing and implementing technical assistance components of SEAF funds. Bob has over 20 years of impact investing experience in emerging markets, including for two SME impact investing and risk capital fund managers, SEAF and the Grassroots Business Fund (GBF).

Don Lubreski – Chief Financial Officer More Info

Don Lubreski serves as SEAF’s Chief Financial Officer, providing financial oversight of the worldwide SEAF management entity and the private equity funds and other financing vehicles it manages. Prior to joining SEAF, Mr. Lubreski was employed as the Vice President of Operations at UltraDNS, a California based provider of managed DNS services. In this capacity, he was responsible for the daily operations of the company, including the oversight of the general, administrative and human resource activities. Mr. Lubreski’s strategic focus included planning the operational and network requirements of the company. Prior to joining UltraDNS, Mr. Lubreski spent over four years as the Corporate Controller for Critical Path Inc., a publicly traded Internet infrastructure company.

Percentage of Investment Professionals who are Women and/or Under-Represented Groups in Firm's Geographic Focus:
Less than 25%
Percentage of Board Members who are Women and/or Under-Represented Groups in Firm's Geographic Focus:
Less than 25%

Financial Performance

Target Financial Returns Relative to Benchmark:
Market Rates
Actual Performance Relative to Target Financial Returns in the Past Three Years:
In line with initial target returns
Financial Reporting Frequency to Investors or Donors
Quarterly

Impact Performance

Percentage of Total Assets Under
Management that are Impact Investments:
100%
Target Impact Outcomes:
Addressing climate change and environmental issues
Alleviating poverty
Conserving land, ecosystems and natural resources
Creating jobs
Increasing access to education and improving educational outcomes
Increasing access to financial services
Increasing access to healthcare services and improving health
Increasing access to water and sanitation
Promoting arts and media
Providing housing
Other: Increasing women-led SMEs
Value-added Services Offered:
Access to markets
Business and legal training
Financial literacy training
Technology training
Health services
Education services

Investments systematically target companies where social and/or environmental impact is integral to the product/service being created:
First, every SEAF fund has its own impact investment thesis, including on expected financial returns and social impact to be achieved.  As each fund develops its deal pipeline, from sourcing to screening to fully evaluating (due diligence), an assessment is conducted of whether or not expected financial returns and social impact match with the investment thesis of the fund. Of course, this is assessed in increasing level of detail as a deal progresses through the deal funnel with a deal potentially being dropped if the expected financial and social returns are not as expected. For example, if job creation is the primary social impact expected from a given SEAF fund, there might be the promise of a potential investment creating jobs at the screening stage, but the construction of the full financial model, with all of its vetted assumptions, might prove otherwise later in the due diligence process. In this example, SEAF would not pursue the investment.

Investments systematically include social and environmental sustainability practices in the due diligence process:
SEAF's investment process formally incorporates screening for sustainability practices at several steps. All initial opportunities are negatively screened for certain industries (e.g. tobacco, spirits, weapons manufacturing, etc.) and certain practices (violation of international standards for workers' rights, corruption, etc.). Sectors and practices which SEAF has determined are unethical are exempt from further consideration. SEAF then conduct due diligence on a company's Social & Environmental practices, requiring quarterly updates whenever an investment is made. Among SEAF's key considerations are: whether the company complies with the IFC Exclusion List, the results of an independent Environmental Assessment, identification of IFC EHS risks and mitigation plans, record of labor and working conditions with areas for improvement as required, expected impact on the surrounding community, assessment of sustainable natural resource management as well as expected positive social impacts. For all of the above, we then work with companies to develop actionable plans with milestones for taking and corrective action as required. SEAF also actively oversee and include in our quarterly reporting progress made on the above points for each investment. It should be noted that pursuing this practice is not only because it is important to SEAF's social mission as an impact investment fund manager, but it is also essential from an investment risk management point of view. Further, it also can be a strong marketing tool for the business itself, if it embraces strong social/environmental sustainability practices.

Impact Tracking and Monitoring

Impact is Tracked:
Yes
Social and/or Environmental Impact is Reported to Investors and Donors:
Yes - on regular basis (annual or quarterly)
Third Party Validations:
Participant on steering committees or leadership roles within impact industry associations
Publisher or contributor to industry white paper or other research in impact investing
Industry Impact Metric Tools Used:
Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS)

Learn More

Key Contact Name: Bob Webster
Phone: (202) 737-8463
Mailing Address:
1500 K Street NW, Washington, D.C.

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Impact investments are investments made into organizations and funds that generate measurable social and environmental impact as well as financial returns.