Unpack Impact Preview: Q&A with Emily Goodall

This Friday, during Unpack Impact, we will dive into startup-investor partnerships. We asked keynote speaker Emilie Goodall, Manager Development Impact & Sustainability at FMO: Entrepreneurial Development Bank, to share a glimpse of what she will tell us on the day. Emilie has helped hundreds of organisations improve their impact by building on her understanding of cutting-edge responsible and impact investment practices.


FMO works with an integrated approach to ensure sustainability is at the core of operations and aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. How did you achieve an integration with the SDGs in a relatively short amount of time? And why did you focus on SDGs 8, 10 and 13?

We’re looking at all the SDGs across our portfolio, but had to make some choices when designing our 2025 strategy back in 2017, as to what was really going to drive our strategic portfolio allocation decision-making. We believe that climate change and reducing inequalities are the twin global challenges of our age, so SDG 13 and 10 were obvious SDGs to pursue across the entire business. SDG 8 also remains core: development financial institutions have historically been focused on economic growth in emerging markets and associated job creation, so have been targeting and tracking that in our collective portfolios for decades. The next iteration of that is the notion of quality of work, not just quantity. We’ve been working on this through our risk mitigation work for some time, but are now actively pursuing drivers of decent work across the portfolio, having undertaken research across the European development finance network in 2018 on what good practice looked like, and what we needed to do to improve our (collective) work in this area.


How do you see the role of banks – and particularly FMO – in the broader mix of impact-driven financiers, which also includes private investors, foundations and VCs? 

Development banks are critical in the overall blend of finance available. It is our role to crowd in private finance when investing in the private sector in emerging markets. Our experience working in these markets over nearly 50 years means we have deep networks and understanding of the country and sector-specific risks, which can help derisk investments for private investors. We also – through our work – set standards around environmental and social and corporate governance work of the organisations we invest in, and work hard with clients across the portfolio to establish those standards.


What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who pursue funding opportunities from impact investors such as FMO? What are some of the key aspects they should focus on in their business model and strategy?

Think about the long-term: where do you want to take your organisation and how will such investment enable that? It’s a partnership, so don’t just jump into bed with anyone! Due diligence is a mutual exploration process: understanding what’s important in terms of overall purpose/mission/motivation as well as whether there’s a fair match in terms of impact return, risk and financial return, risk appetite. Think beyond the capital – what value add can be brought, whether from additional skills, experience, via board seat or otherwise, that you seek, introductions/networks, capacity development, connection to peers etc. And then ask for what the business really needs.

Unpack Impact is on Friday 29 November from 13:00 to 17:00. Get your ticket here!