Where does elea invest?

Portfolio
Baobab

Investment thesis

elea invests philanthropic capital in and provides strategic support to entrepreneurially led ventures that create lasting social impact by giving people living in absolute poverty access to employment, markets, and value chains. Across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, we collaborate with impact ventures that have innovative, economically viable models which catalyze change in their ecosystems and eventually attract further capital. Our investments are centered around agricultural value chains, last-mile retail and services, employable skills, and climate and livelihoods.

Agricultural value chains

The livelihood of up to 70% of the population in low- and middle-income countries depends on the agricultural sector. We invest in impact ventures with innovative business models aimed at effectively enhancing smallholder farmers' productivity and improving the quality of their produce according to ecological and fair-trade standards. As most of these farmers have no direct access to markets, elea portfolio companies help to build skills and foster the direct integration of smallholders into agricultural value chains.

Last-mile retail and services

Most goods and services in low- and middle-income countries are sold on the informal retail market. A lack of adequate infrastructure and inefficient market structures limit the availability of goods and services and often result in customers having to pay a hefty premium for them. We invest in impact ventures that strengthen the productivity of small merchants and enable their integration into digital supply and distribution systems. With innovative entrepreneurial solutions, elea portfolio companies build the adequate infrastructure needed to increase the availability of socially impactful and productivity-enhancing goods and services at fair prices.

Employable skills

One of the greatest challenges in fighting absolute poverty is equipping young people with the necessary skills to earn a living after their basic education. We invest in impact ventures that offer market-oriented practical and 21st-century skills training for motivated youth from low-income households to create pathways for them out of poverty. Once the students have completed their training, elea portfolio companies help them to find employment and thereby secure their existence, so that they can live a more independent life with new economic perspectives.

Climate and livelihoods

If left unchecked, climate change will push up to 130 million people into poverty over the next 10 years and could cause over 200 million people to migrate within their own countries by 2050. People living in absolute poverty are hit the hardest by the effects of climate change. We invest in impact ventures with innovative business models that enhance the climate resilience of communities and mitigate climate change. elea portfolio companies strengthen the ability of social and economic ecosystems to cope with the consequences of climate change and, in doing so, fight absolute poverty.

  • AMAZI
    South Africa

    Region
    Africa

    Topic
    Employable skills

    Year of first investment
    2017

    Partner
    Amazi Beauty Pty Ltd

    AMAZI supports training and employment as a solution to structural unemployment problems that particularly affect people in South Africa’s lowest income areas. AMAZI empowers unemployed women through a holistic professional skill building program through which trainees are enabled to develop the necessary competencies to become financially and socially independent.

    Learn more: Can cosmetic services drive economic inclusion?

    Blog article
    Tumi's path to independence as a mother of three

  • Arbusta
    Argentina, Colombia & Uruguay

    Region
    South America

    Topic
    Employable skills

    Year of first investment
    2022

    Partner
    Arbusta Corp

    Arbusta develops what the IT industry currently lacks the most: talent. They recruit youth from disadvantaged backgrounds in Latin America who would otherwise remain unnoticed by the sector. Their targeted recruitment and on-the-job skill development program unleashes the talent of these young professionals allowing Arbusta to provide affordable, high quality IT services to businesses in Latin America and the US.

  • Angaza
    worldwide

    Region
    Worldwide

    Topic
    Last-mile retail and services

    Year of first investment
    2013

    Partner
    Angaza Design, Inc.

    Angaza Design developed an innovative Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) technology that allows communication between small devices such as affordable solar lamps and the mobile network operator. Beneficiaries buy a product for as little as 5 USD and pay back the remaining amount through regular installments using the PAYG technology.

  • ATEC
    Cambodia & Bangladesh

    Region
    Asia

    Topic
    Climate and livelihoods

    Year of first investment
    2021

    Partner
    ATEC Global

    ATEC provides low-income households with access to clean cooking devices. The integrated pay-as-you-go technology in each device ensures product affordability and tracks live usage data. This data is then used to generate carbon credits. ATEC ultimately marries social and environmental efforts in a re-enforcing model whereby carbon credit revenues unlock the distribution of life improving devices at scale.

  • BagoSphere
    Philippines

    Region
    Asia

    Topic
    Employable skills

    Year of first investment
    2015

    Partner
    BagoSphere Pte. Ltd.

    BagoSphere provides underprivileged youth in the Philippines with financially accessible professional training that subsequently allows them to take up a job in the country’s fast-growing call-center industry, thereby increasing their monthly income three to five fold. BagoSphere connects students with Microfinance Institutions to allow them to pay the training program tuition fee up-front and repay over a period of 12–18 months.

  • BluLever
    South Africa

    Region
    Africa

    Topic
    Employable skills

    Year of first investment
    2023

    Partner
    Blulever Education Pty Ltd

    BluLever is changing the narrative around blue-collar jobs for underprivileged youth in South Africa. The company has developed a skill-building model that provides a pathway into formal employment for students, while also covering their financing needs. By partnering with entrepreneurs and key industry players, BluLever is building a blueprint for vocational training with the ambition to scale across Africa.

  • B'Ayoba
    Zimbabwe

    Region
    Africa

    Topic
    Agricultural value chains

    Year of first investment
    2016

    Partner
    B'Ayoba (Pvt) Ltd

    Today, most of the fruits of the baobab trees in Zimbabwe fall to the ground where they rot unused. However, in the industrialized world, the powder of the fruit is gaining rapid recognition as a "superfood" for its range of nutritional benefits. Under the guidance of B’Ayoba, a Zimbabwean food production company, poor rural smallholder farmers collect the ripe fruits and bring them to local processing centers where the fruits are cracked and the pulp is separated from the shell. In B’Ayoba’s plant in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, the pulp is further processed and the baobab powder, a produce rich of vitamin C, calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium, is packaged for export to Europe and North America.

  • Copia
    Kenya

    Region
    Africa

    Topic
    Last-mile retail and services

    Year of first investment
    2017

    Partner
    Copia Global Inc.


    Copia’s aim is to bring e-commerce to poor rural customers by building an efficient mobile technology-enabled last-mile distribution system. A network of agents, typically owners of small shops, have Copia’s product catalog on display, take orders, collect mobile money payments, and serve as delivery points, which allows them to earn a sales commission. Customers in turn get access to fairly-priced and reliably delivered goods that would otherwise not be available to them.

  • Coffee Circle
    worldwide

    Region
    Africa

    Topic
    Agricultural value chains

    Year of first investment
    2013

    Partner
    Circle Products GmbH

    Coffee Circle is a dynamic Berlin-based startup founded by young entrepreneurs, whose mission is to bring the world’s best coffee from Ethiopia to Europe via online sales and in turn help improve living conditions of coffee farmers significantly. Coffee Circle attaches great importance to the establishment of sustainable relationships with suppliers and trades the specialty coffee directly with the farmers in Ethiopia.

    Learn more: Can I find the world's best coffee online?

  • Dharma Life
    India

    Region
    Asia

    Topic
    Last-mile retail and services

    Year of first investment
    2015

    Partner
    Gajam India Ltd.

    Dharma Life’s goal is to create and manage a rural distribution network for affordable, innovative products and services tailored to the needs of households at the base of the pyramid. The offering addresses six causes: Access to clean energy, safe drinking water, livelihood products, reduction of indoor air pollution, as well as improvement of nutrition and personal hygiene. Dharma Life recruits, trains, and supports village-level entrepreneurs (so-called Dharma Life Entrepreneurs, DLEs) to act as local representatives and sales agents of Dharma Life, anchoring the organization and its services in the village community.

    Learn more: What are consumers in rural India actually looking for?

  • Digital Divide Data
    Kenya

    Region
    Africa

    Topic
    Employable skills

    Year of first investment
    2017

    Partner
    Digital Divide Data


    Digital Divide Data (DDD) is a pioneer in Impact Sourcing, an economically sustainable approach to alleviate poverty by providing training, employment, and higher education to underprivileged youth. DDD’s new cloud practice in Kenya strives to become the first Amazon Web Service (AWS) Partner in East Africa, creating next generation, sustainable jobs, and further strengthening DDD’s leading role in the impact IT outsourcing industry.

  • East Africa Foods
    Tanzania

    Region
    Africa

    Topic
    Agricultural value chains

    Year of first investment
    2020

    Partner
    East Africa Foods

    East Africa Foods Co. sources fresh fruits and vegetables from local smallholder farmers in Tanzania and sells them both on the formal and on the informal markets in Dar es Salaam. By cutting out middlemen from the supply chain, EAF has established a direct link between supply and demand and can therefore offer higher prices to the farmers and support them with advice on increasing their yield and quality. Moreover, East Africa Foods leverages modern logistics and streamlined processes in order to reduce post-harvest losses and food waste, as well as to ensure access to higher quality fresh produce for its customers in Dar es Salaam.

  • Elucid
    Ghana & Madagascar

    Region
    Africa

    Topic
    Last-mile retail and services

    Year of first investment
    2023

    Partner
    Elucid

    Lack of access to healthcare is a major challenge to overcome the poverty trap. Elucid not only facilitates access to healthcare for smallholder farmers but also increases investment into the healthcare system in the long run as they connect the entire healthcare ecosystem through their digital platform.

  • Essmart
    India

    Region
    Asia

    Topic
    Last-mile retail and services

    Year of first investment
    2018

    Partner
    Essmart Global, Inc.

    Essmart is building an innovative last-mile distribution channel that enables socially impactful goods, such as improved agricultural tools and efficient household devices, to reach and impact their intended end customers. The company cooperates directly with small local mom & pop (“kirana”) shops and thus ensures that fairly priced quality products are available directly at the places where people need them and where they already shop.

  • Hasiru Dala Innovations
    India

    Region
    Southern Asia

    Topic
    Climate and livelihoods

    Year of first investment
    2021

    Partner
    Hasiru Dala Innovations

    Hasiru Dala Innovations, based in Bangalore, offers waste collection and plastic recycling services. As an impact business, they integrate informal waste pickers into a market-based model, giving them access to higher incomes and better working conditions. The partnership with the waste pickers is enabled by professional and life skill trainings, unlocking the entrepreneurial potential of the poorest communities in India.

  • iCow
    Kenya

    Region
    Africa

    Topic
    Agricultural value chains

    Year of first investment
    2013

    Partner
    Green Dreams TECH Ltd.

    Green Dreams, a social company based in Nairobi, Kenia, developed iCow, an innovative agricultural information platform that is accessed primarily via mobile SMS, with the goal of delivering pertinent and timely information to an eco-system of agribusiness actors. Through iCow, farmers receive advice on agricultural best practices, track their cows through their respective estrus cycles, and get contact information of a variety of agricultural service providers.

    Learn more: Do a few sms make me a better farmer?

  • Inka Moss
    Peru

    Region
    South America

    Topic
    Agricultural value chains

    Year of first investment
    2018

    Partner
    Inka Moss S.A.

    Inka Moss generates work for very low-income communities in the Andean highlands by creating an inclusive value chain of a previously unused natural resource called sphagnum moss. The plant grows wild in the Andes and has unique properties which make it an ideal natural substrate in the horticulture (e.g., Orchids) market. Inka Moss collaborates with rural communities by teaching them about the value of the moss and buying it at fair prices. The moss is then processed by Inka Moss and sold on the global market.

    Blog article
    How Peruvian communities benefit from wild moss

  • J-Palm
    Liberia

    Region
    Africa

    Topic
    Agricultural value chains

    Year of first investment
    2021

    Partner
    J-Palm Liberia

    While palm oil is globally associated with environmental degradation, land grabbing, and wildlife habitat destruction, palm trees are a native plant in West Africa. Local smallholder farmers though do not leverage the fruits of the native trees on their land due to a disconnect from technology and the market. J-Palm operates an innovative model sourcing organic and sustainable palm oil in rural areas in Liberia to produce health and beauty products for the local as well as the export markets. In doing so, J-Palm creates income opportunities for thousands of smallholders.

  • Kwanza Tukule
    Kenya

    Region
    Africa

    Topic
    Last-mile retail and services

    Year of first investment
    2021

    Partner
    Kwanza Tukule

    Kwanza Tukule, which means “Let’s eat” in Swahili, is a last-mile distribution company based in Kenya that provides food vendors in informal settlements with reliable and low-cost supply of essential cooking ingredients. This allows the vendors, who previously did not have any access to a professional supplier, to save money on product sourcing and transportation. Vendors can increase their sales and profits while serving their customers higher-quality food and contributing to food security of the urban poor.

  • Leap Skills
    India

    Region
    Asia

    Topic
    Employable skills

    Year of first investment
    2019

    Partner
    Leap Skills

    Leap Skills provides employer demanded services to bridge the gap between jobseekers and employers in India. They have developed an effective skilling program providing jobseekers from rural and low-income backgrounds with the employable skills that employers are struggling to find and give these jobseekers access to the formal labor market.

  • Lernern
    India

    Region
    Asia

    Topic
    Employable skills

    Year of first investment
    2021

    Partner
    Lernern

    Lernern offers fully accredited vocational training degrees to blue-collar workers. Inspired by the European apprenticeship model, the organization leverages strong industry relationships to provide on-the-job training and digitally facilitated learning journeys which enable careers that can sustainably improve livelihoods.

  • MerKomuna
    Mexico

    Region
    Central America

    Topic
    Last-mile retail and services

    Year of first investment
    2021

    Partner
    Merkomuna

    MerKomuna is creating digital buying groups centered around small shop owners and their customer communities. By aggregating demand, consumers can order goods online at a significant discount. Small shop owners benefit from an additional income stream and a larger clientele without increasing their working capital. MerKomuna is currently ramping up operations in Mexico and has plans to expand across Latin America.

  • Oorja
    India

    Region
    Asia

    Topic
    Climate and livelihoods

    Year of first investment
    2023

    Partner
    Oorja Development Solutions

    Smallholder farmers in India lack access to modern, agricultural technologies. For irrigation and basic processing, they predominantly rely on polluting and inefficient diesel generators. Oorja, Sanskrit for energy, provides affordable solar-powered irrigation, milling and cooling services to smallholder farmers. Thanks to Oorja’s convenient solution, they can cultivate at a lower cost and integrate additional crop cycles into their harvest – often for the first time.

  • Pricepally
    Nigeria

    Region
    Africa

    Topic
    Last-mile retail and services

    Year of first investment
    2022

    Partner
    Pricepally

    Pricepally operates an efficient distribution network for fresh produce and basic commodities, therefore helping Nigerian households to reduce their food bill. Pricepally leverages technology, bulk buying, and direct sourcing from farmers to reduce costs. Pricepally can thus offer fresh food items at discounted prices while adhering to high quality standards.

  • Ricult
    Thailand & Pakistan

    Region
    Asia

    Topic
    Agricultural value chains

    Year of first investment
    2020

    Partner
    Ricult

    The agricultural supply chains in developing countries remain very fragmented with a large disconnect between smallholder farmers and companies servicing them. Ricult operates a digital platform that provides smallholder farmers in Pakistan and Thailand with relevant information on farming know-how, market conditions, and financing opportunities. By connecting farmers with agriculture companies and financial institutions, Ricult builds an ecosystem that facilitates information flows and transactions in an otherwise underserved market segment.

  • Signalytic
    Uganda

    Region
    Africa

    Topic
    Last-mile retail and services

    Year of first investment
    2022

    Partner
    Wendepunkt Medical Innovation Inc.

    Signalytic is a Canada-based technology company improving access to healthcare by solving the connectivity challenge at the last mile. Signalytic digitizes remote health centers and enables their integration into medical supply chains. Rural facilities thus gain access to relevant information and effective stock management, thereby improving patient care in Uganda, their first country of operations.

  • Smart Dukas
    Kenya

    Region
    Africa

    Topic
    Last-mile retail and services

    Year of first investment
    2016

    Partner
    TechnoServe Kenya

    Through a comprehensive approach, owners of small grocery shops (called “Dukas” in Kenya) in poor neighborhoods of Nairobi are trained in basic business skills – such as cost management, product selection and marketing – and receive dozens of hours of professional in-shop consulting to implement tailor-made action plans. Under the unified brand “Smart Duka”, the venture's goal is to substantially improve the business position of traditional Dukas, and thus to secure the jobs of the shop owners and their families.

  • SMV Green Solutions
    India

    Region
    Asia

    Topic
    Climate and livelihoods

    Year of first investment
    2022

    Partner
    SMV Green Solutions Private Limited

    SMV helps marginalized rickshaw drivers to run their own sustainable business through ownership of an electric rickshaw. They promote behavioral change by also opening opportunities for women to participate as drivers in a male-dominated industry. Providing support with financing, training, and other services, SMV is becoming a trusted holistic “one-stop-shop” for rickshaw drivers.

  • Vega Coffee
    Nicaragua & Colombia

    Region
    Central and South America

    Topic
    Agricultural value chains

    Year of first investment
    2019

    Partner
    Vega Coffee, Inc.

    Vega Coffee leverages an innovative approach to coffee production and distribution. The company trains and hires selected farmers to work in their roastery and roasts quality coffee alongside farmers in Nicaragua and Colombia. The farmers learn how to select specialty-grade coffee beans, roast them and taste the final product. The roasters then train their fellow cooperative members how to produce higher value, quality coffee beans. Vega Coffee delivers the coffee to American consumers within 3 days of roasting.

  • Virohan
    India

    Region
    Asia

    Topic
    Employable skills

    Year of first investment
    2019

    Partner
    Virohan

    India’s healthcare sector desperately seeks qualified employees. Meanwhile, youth from low-income families are cut off from opportunities in this sector. They lack access to high-quality, market-driven education. Virohan bridges that gap by offering vocational training programs that equip the students with the technical and soft skills to successfully contribute to India’s healthcare sector in administrative and technical hospital jobs. Virohan has established partnerships with student financing partners, which enables them to make the training affordable to low-income students. Their model also includes a very strong network of hospitals that act as placement partners, where the students can complete internships and start their careers after graduation.

  • Voalá
    Guatemala

    Region
    South America

    Topic
    Employable skills

    Year of first investment
    2022

    Partner
    Fundes

    Voalá is a female-led beauty care franchise for women micro-entrepreneurs. Within the network, franchisees gain access to exclusive discounts, tailored training programs, and customer acquisition strategies. As a result, the model supports growth in shop incomes, increases employment opportunities, and empowers women. Co-designed by FUNDES and elea, Voalá is being implemented in Guatemala.

  • Yebo Fresh
    South Africa

    Region
    Africa

    Topic
    Last-mile retail and services

    Year of first investment
    2023

    Partner
    Yebo Fresh Proprietary Limited

    Yebo Fresh is a tech-enabled trader of staple goods in South Africa’s informal retail sector. By delivering products directly to township retail outlets across Cape Town and Johannesburg, Yebo Fresh makes the urban last-mile accessible to suppliers while removing middlemen from informal retailers’ procurement process. Township retailers can thus save both costs and time, empowering them to scale their shops.