How did your portfolio companies manage the GIIRS Process?
We always have a motivation to shield our entrepreneurs from too many requests, since founders are often pulled in multiple directions and wear many hats. We surveyed our companies after they completed the GIIRS Ratings process. Over 80% of companies didn’t find the process burdensome and some of the companies were actually thrilled with the nature of the questioning.
What did companies find valuable?
Many CEOs saw a corroboration between our investment expectations and a third party requirement, especially in areas of governance and reporting. For example, all of the companies began to understand better why we emphasize stakeholder language in companies’ constitutional documents. They learned that this requirement wasn’t idiosyncratic to Gray Ghost and that incorporating this language into bylaws can lead to a bigger movement for a larger swath of the social impact population. The scorecard framework of the impact report helped companies identify strengths and weaknesses and set impact objectives. Our companies tended to score very highly on the impact business models and community areas because that is their focus through their product or service. On the other hand, because of the early stage nature of our companies, the assessment illuminated some topics that will be important in the future enabling the companies to put policies in place in advance.
Did any companies make changes to their operations or practices after taking the assessment?
Many HR departments made efforts to shift around their employment practices, especially in training and onboarding new hires. Equity incentive pools have expanded for the companies that are building for growth and liquidity. Many of our companies operate in geographies where the notion of an independent board is not widespread, but the assessment helped highlight to them how this governance structure could make the company stronger. They also began tapping other resources via a network of advisory board members or less formal bodies.
When a third party benchmarks your performance on a global barometer, it adds credibility. The structure of the impact report was an excellent learning tool. We loved the whole process. Anand Shivrastay, CEO, Beam
Beam, a mobile payments and services company in India, was founded with parallel social objectives: empowering women to generate income as “Sahayeks”, or franchisees, and to help bring the 800 million under banked Indians into the formal financial markets. Each quarter, they track how much income they have helped the Sahayeks generate, and how much time and money they have saved customers, by reducing trips for transactions.
Beam used the B Impact Assessment as an opportunity to dive deeper into their microfranchise business model and the underserved markets they sold to. After taking the assessment they began to segment customers more granularly and look at the consumer behavior of different customer types so that they could better meet their needs.
As Beam looks to raise Series B funding, they are committed to finding mission aligned capital. “We want investors who under the value proposition of our social mission and take measuring impact as seriously as we do” says Shrivastay.
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