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Created with funding from the
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


From Blueprint to Scale Cover

From Blueprint to Scale:
The Case for Philanthropy in
Impact Investing

Harvey Koh, Ashish Karamchandani, Robert Katz

April 2012

There is growing interest in the role of market-based solutions in addressing the problems of poverty, through inclusive businesses that tap into the potential
of the global poor as customers and suppliers—the so-called ‘fortune at the Base of the Pyramid (BoP).’ Encouraged by the growth of microfinance, many promising new models are emerging. This has elicited a rush to the new field of ‘impact investing’—producing social or environmental good as well as financial return—with hundreds of funds set up in just a few years and billions of dollars waiting to be invested.

Acumen photo

Photo credit: Acumen Fund
Zulfiqar Ali farms four acres in the village of Dabri, Punjab province, irrigated by MicroDrip irrigation kits.

But many investors report that they are struggling to find good opportunities in which to invest for impact. Why is that? Will impact investors really be able to take new models for inclusive business
all the way from idea to scale?

Meanwhile, philanthropic and aid funders are asking how they should engage with these market-based solutions. How should they harness the full potential of this early experimentation? If impact capital is the key to scaling these solutions, what then is the role of philanthropy?

Our research paints a clear picture: impact capital alone will not unlock the potential of impact investing for the global poor. Because of the extreme challenges facing those who are pioneering new models for inclusive business, truly realizing the impact in impact investing will require more, not less, philanthropy, and will need that philanthropic support to be delivered in
new ways.

This report:

  • Explains how impact investing is constrained by the tough realities of inclusive business, and introduces the phenomenon of the pioneer gap
  • Describes the emerging practice of enterprise philanthropy, and how it is the key to establishing the inclusive business models into which capital can then be deployed
  • Analyzes a number of companies from the Acumen Fund portfolio to understand both successes and setbacks, and to illustrate the Four Ps of effective enterprise philanthropy
  • Sets out our key recommendations for philanthropic funders and for impact investors
  • Provides some practical ideas for what and how to fund, in the Enterprise Philanthropy Playbook

If you would like to further discuss the themes described in the report or provide feedback, please write to the team below at


Monitor Group - Mumbai
Harvey Koh
Ashish Karamchandani
Nidhi Hegde

Monitor Group – New York
Carolien de Bruin
Acumen Fund
Robert Katz
Sasha Dichter
Acumen Fund – Europe
Vinay Nair
Rik Vyverman