While exploring different means of supporting smallholder farmers in Myanmar, our Founder, Leon Toh, chanced upon a town that used to house a former British military community, where Damson plums were cultivated. He named the company after this fruit to mark where his first foray into the Impact enterprise space began. From its conception, Damson has been actively involved in supporting startups to use their business models to create impact for the environment and people in Asia.
In short, Impact Investments are Investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Impact Investments challenge the long-held belief that social and environmental issues should only be addressed by philanthropy and that market investments should only focus on achieving financial returns. Impact Investing comes in many forms that are dependent on the goals of each investor, and therefore, there is a spectrum of financial returns, with some targeting below market returns (concessionary) to market rate or above market returns (non-concessionary). We believe that a concerted effort across all sectors is necessary for the betterment of our world, and therefore, we believe that Impact Investing is not the only nor most effective way to create positive change, but it is one path of many.
To learn more about Impact Investing
*Source - GIIN
How does Damson invest with impact? We are non-concessionary and target venture capital market rate returns. You could call us an Impact VC.
We specifically seek to identify companies that have a strong potential for positive alignment between impact intention and financial generation. We call this “Impact Potential”, in which a company can demonstrate an embeddedness of impact within the business model. In short, the theory is that if impact is vital or entwined with the growth of the business - as the Startup grows, the impact must as well.
Case Study: Intention - To provide employment and greater income for marginalized groups through reliable zero carbon last mile package delivery
Business Model: The company employs street youth and low-wage workers to deliver packages on bicycles in major Indonesian urban centers. Couriers collect packages from a centralized a pick-up facility that serves a district, which are drop-off points for large e-commerce retailers. Couriers are compensated on a per package delivered system.
Key Business Driver: Number of packages that are delivered per Courier in a day. Impact and Business Model Alignment: In our due diligence, we ascertained that bicycles were the most efficient mode of transport as traffic in major urban centers tends to be exceedingly congested, couriers can utilize sidewalks that are not accessible by other modes of transportation. Furthermore, street youth have intimate knowledge of the back alleys and alternate routes to avoid congested areas. We assessed that these individuals were the ideal candidates to improve package delivery efficiency. As of now, Indonesia’s urban centers have an abundance of street youth and low-wage workers, therefore finding riders is not a challenge to scaling the business to cover more districts.
Our Assessment: As bicycles offer a more efficient mode of delivery over motorcycle couriers and street youth are more adept at navigating the traffic in these cities, we believed that achieving zero carbon delivery and improving livelihoods was certainly achievable as the business scales to take on more customers.