Frontier Market Scouts

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Frontier Market Scouts

Frontier Market Scouts Take on the World Of Social Impact Investing

January 7th, 2015 · No Comments · FMS in Action, Frontier Market Scouts, Socent, Uncategorized, Village Capital

This post was submitted by MPA and FMS alumna Danielle Steer.

It’s not every day that a person can sit at a pub watching the World Cup and listen to four different languages at the surrounding tables, while discussing impact investing as a poverty alleviation strategy. Unless, of course, you’re a part of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey community. Today, this is my lunch break.

This experience seems apropos considering I’ve just finished two intense weeks in a classroom with 30 other inspiring, diverse, and experienced individuals and practitioners for the Middlebury Institute’s Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) program.

FMS Group Work

Participants from Around the World

I was unsure at first what types of professionals might be attracted to the program. My career has previously focused on gender education and development; so I was excited to learn more about how entrepreneurship could help build local economies and empower the impoverished. I was beyond pleased on the first day when I found out my colleagues in the class hailed from backgrounds not only in development and the public sector but also big banks and Wall Street. Some were gaining relevant professional experience during graduate school while others had quit jobs at Visa and Citibank to take part in the training and fellowship. We were also a geographically eclectic group as well with participants from Ireland, USA, Singapore, Australia, Philippines, Cameroon, China, the Netherlands, and Rwanda.

Ross Baird- FMS Instructor

Intense Training with Real Experts

The two week FMS training is broken down into five-two day workshops covering different aspects of social entrepreneurship from the scouting and entrepreneurs to the impact investor perspective.

The first session was taught by Ross Baird, Executive Director at Village Capital. Ross brings a contagious energy to the course and provides a great introduction to impacting investing and social enterprise. From pitching frameworks to impact evaluation criteria for entrepreneurs, we explored various options for how scouts might identify and develop entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

Session two brought a change of pace with Simon Dejardins, currently residing across the pond at the Shell Foundation in London. Although his content was jam packed with “how to scale” high impact social enterprises, we were able to experiment with various approaches in business support and stakeholder analyses.

The half-way point of the training brought Dr. Yuwei Shi,  founder and Director of Research at the Center for Social Impact Learning at MIIS. Yuwei focused on an action learning approach to business modeling by bringing in fellow experts on business development and ideation. In addition we explored a live case study, Salud2. Salud2 is a social enterprise at the concept phase started by five MIIS alumni this spring. Although Salud2 was a runner up at the recent Hult Prize competition, the FMS participants were able to go through the a business modeling exercise to help Salud2 consider alternative directions they might take their business before they enroll at the Hult Accelerator this summer.

With two sessions still to go, the FMS crew took a two day break to process the immense information we had covered over the week. We were also able to take advantage of the local beauty and activities along the way!

Feeling rested we returned to the ever charismatic, Paul Berloff of Accion Venture Labs. Paul led us through a series of lectures and activities focusing on investor perspectives.   From the due diligence and the role of investors to the trends and criteria for impact we took an in-depth look at impact investing through the eyes of Accion Venture Labs.

For the final training session, we were joined by MIIS alumni, Amit Sharma and Ravi Kurani. This workshop provided an overview of the current universe of systems of environmental, social, and governance ratings (ESG ratings and analytics), including the ones commonly used in impact investing such as GIIRS. We also walked through the development of ImpactSpace , a start-up with the mission to help capture data and impact measurements for social ventures working with their counterparts.

FMS Participant Nicole Manipol

Putting it All Together

Although I feel like I’m still processing information, theory, methodology, and tools packed into two short weeks, there were some common themes and big ideas throughout the course.

In the classroom I learned not only from the practitioners brought in to teach but also my colleagues. The class was a healthy mix of experience and knowledge that allowed us to work in meaningful and balanced groups. When I faltered on financial models, the ex-Citibank employee was there to simplify the process. When we talked about design and impact, the development students helped clarify impact metrics and the methodologies used to understand them.

After class, we dove into the nuances of culture and various informal aspects of the impact investing space during happy hour. Each of the practitioners took the time to get to know the participants and share stories about their very different experiences in the space.

As a people person, I really enjoyed the focus on relationship-building as a common theme throughout the two-week training. Whether you’re an entrepreneur looking for seed funding or an investor hoping to make an impact, personal connection and human interaction drive the entire process. I feel fortunate that I now have 30 new FMS colleagues in the field and around the world.

FMS Particpants in Big Sur




Featured FMS Partner: Ayla Schlosser, Founder and Executive Director of Resonate

July 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Africa, Frontier Market Scouts, Scouts in the Field, Uncategorized


Ayla Schlosser, Founder and Executive Director of Resonate

This post was submitted by MPA student and FMS alumna Nicole Manapol

Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign,but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Danger of a Single Story (TED)

Stories are transformative – whether it’s the “official” story of a despotic regime, a beloved myth or the self-destructive narratives we sometimes play in our heads.

No one understands this better than FMS Partner Ayla Schlosser, Founder and Executive Director of Resonate – a startup teaching leadership skills to women and girls through a training course rooted in storytelling. Launched just over a year ago and based in Rwanda, Resonate was founded on the principle that stories matter. Through her background in community organizing and communications consulting, Ayla saw firsthand the importance of storytelling as a tool for affecting change and building leadership capacity. As Ayla often remarks – a compelling story can mean the difference between having an idea about how to fix a problem and actually leading the charge for community-based solutions.

Seeing the potential of narrative-based leadership training in other contexts outside the US, Ayla began looking for organizations where she could use her expertise to catalyze work already being done with women internationally. When no such organization materialized, Ayla (in true entrepreneurial fashion) decided to start her own company…in a country (Rwanda) she had never visited. When asked about the risk of traveling halfway across the world to test a market in which she had no prior experience – Ayla responded – you’re never going to have all the information – at some point you’ve just got to dive in and see what happens…

 In October 2013 Ayla was off to Rwanda.

Why Rwanda? Although Ayla had no prior experience in Rwanda, there were a lot of reasons that made it an ideal place to pilot Resonate’s training. Over the past 20 years Rwanda has been working hard to rebuild its economy. Women’s economic empowerment has been a central feature of the government’s recovery strategy, creating a favorable environment for women’s leadership initiatives. Rwanda also has a strong tradition of oral leadership making the training a good cultural fit.

Resonate training

Resonate Workshop

But perhaps the most compelling reason to launch in Rwanda was a strong partner – the Akilah Intitute for Women, an East African women’s college. As a graduate of Smith College, an all women’s school in the US, Ayla felt a natural affinity with Akilah. Her first training at the college with a group of female journalists still counts as one of her best moments since launching Resonate. Prior to conducting the training, Ayla worried about how participants would receive it – would it make sense? Would it fit the culture? The outcome is something Ayla still proudly recalls. The women got it…but not only did they get it – they were transformed by it. For most of the women at Akilah and also at subsequent trainings that was the first time they had ever told their story, felt how their personal narratives could resonate with others – how they could affect and inspire change. One of the women in a Resonate training later related to Ayla that she keeps the video clip of herself telling her story on her phone to remind herself of that moment – the moment she truly recognized her own strength and what she had to offer others.


Resonate Workshop

With less than a year since launching programs on the ground in Rwanda – Resonate is poised to expand into Kenya and potentially other countries in the Region. Ayla attributes much of her success to her staff on the ground –in particular lead trainer Solange Impanoyimana who came to the project with a strong background in community development, storytelling and radio and who has already taken ownership of the enterprise. Friends, family and professional networks were also incredibly helpful to Ayla as she sought points of contact within Rwanda, developed marketing and communications strategies, fundraised or just simply needed advice.

Ayla recognizes programs like Frontier Market Scouts, which provided her with the talent and human resources to support operations. As a busy entrepreneur, traveling between Rwanda and the US and trying to launch a business, having the time to recruit and screen candidates is a major challenge. The benefit of working with FMS is having the program vet top candidates for you. Through this process Resonate was able to hire Donna Sinar, an MPA candidate at the Monterey Institute of International Studies with significant management experience in the non-profit sector. As a startup, priorities are constantly changing. What Ayla likes best about Donna and her FMS preparation is her ability to be flexible and respond to whatever new priority may arise on a daily basis.

Moving forward Ayla is considering different business models to generate revenue to sustain Resonate, including crowdfunding and a one-for-one training model with corporate CSR programs. There is a lot of interest and demand for Resonate’s Storytelling for Leadership training. The challenge now she says is being strategic about what she pursues given the size and capacity of her team. Other challenges involve fundraising – as many entrepreneurs know you need a history of funding to get funding.

But Ayla is undeterred – my approach is collaborative, I don’t want to re-invent the wheel. This is an exciting time for Resonate – particularly for anyone interested in Resonate’s work. As a startup we are constantly evolving. People who get involved with us now have the unique opportunity to shape what Resonate will be…

Interested in Resonate’s work? Learn how you can get involved:

Interested in becoming an FMS Partner? Apply here

For more information, visit Read our blog at Follow us on Twitter @FMScouts and on Facebook at



Reese Hodges

January 30th, 2015 · No Comments · Winter 2015

Reese’s leadership experience as an outdoor professional and educator, both abroad and in the US, have given him a diverse skillet to bring to village capital. The skills gained as a whitewater rafting guide and field studies assistant instructor are complemented by his skillset gained in pursuing an MBA/MA in International Environmental Policy. Reese is proficient in Spanish language speaking and writing, and has worked with several organizations in Latin America. As a professional guide, Reese has excellent communication, management, and problem-solving skills, enabling him to play a vital role in business developments and strategy.


Laura Benoit

January 30th, 2015 · No Comments · Winter 2015

Laura is interested in strengthening rural communities in Latin America through the creation of economic opportunities and social enterprises. Laura has experience in business strategy and program design for an artisan development organization transitioning from being a nonprofit to a social enterprise in Guatemala. Additionally, she has worked with a nonprofit in Peru constructing research tools, conducting field research, and analyzing data to make recommendations to the local government.

Laura has also consulted on projects related to: social media, fund diversification, marketing, network analysis, as well as monitoring and evaluation.  Her experience working with international organizations to create sustainable and culturally relevant programs has prepared her to be innovative and flexible with strong problem solving and communication skills. Laura truly believes that development work is most sustainable and valuable to the local community when it is paired with the creation and strengthening of the local community and economy.


Caryn McKinney

January 30th, 2015 · No Comments · Winter 2015

Caryn’s experience in the energy sector has given her a valuable interest and background. She has strong competencies in financial analysis and modeling, supply chain and operations management, which give her an opportunity to make valuable contributions to any company’s financial advisory and energy/operations management efforts.  Her research experience has also given her strong project management, problem-solving, and analytical skills, which enable her to play a vital role in business /strategy.  Her recent education at the Monterey Institute in International Business Administration and International Environmental Policy includes many activities in line with her interests in energy consulting and management. These skills and interests can be valuable to any growing or changing business


Jeanette Pelizzon 

January 30th, 2015 · No Comments · Winter 2015

Jeanette’s experience in a variety of different fields ranging from public relations to development program management has given her a diverse skill set to bring to any organization. She has proven strengths in using social media mediums to achieve marketing and fundraising goals, as well as event planning and team leadership experience. These proficiencies allow her to be an asset to any organization’s communication and outreach efforts. Recent experience working with rural artisans in Rwanda allowed Jeanette to gain valuable strategic planning expertise, as well as giving her the opportunity to build off previous production management competencies in an international environment. Jeanette sees herself excelling in any role that allows her to build upon her existing strengths in communications and management, while gaining new skills in the realm of social enterprise.


Tiffany Vlaanderen

January 30th, 2015 · No Comments · Winter 2015

Tiffany is a Dutch and Indonesian Angeleno who graduated from the University of Southern California. She is a thoughtful problem solver with a diverse skillset to serve strategy or advising roles for a social enterprise.

Her experience in international development spans three continents with a focus on poverty reduction programs, grassroots community engagement and non-profit and for-profit social enterprise management. Recently she worked on business and program strategy development for Kiva Zip Kenya in Nairobi, a platform that links Kenyan small businesses directly to crowd-funded capital via mobile payment platform, M-Pesa and the Internet. Her ability to synthesize complex issues, have foresight and communicate solutions enabled her to develop partnerships with individuals and organizations that serve Kenyan entrepreneurs in various high-impact sectors.

Most recently she worked as the Growth Manager for the Silk Road Bazaar, a fair trade wholesale representative of marginalized artist groups located in Kyrgyzstan. She has an interest in the intersection of creativity and creating economic opportunities for underserved communities, more specifically in understanding how to link small-scale artisans to capital and markets for their products.

She is eager to grow a career in strategy and advising for impact investing and social enterprise management.


Zsoka Ardai

January 30th, 2015 · No Comments · Winter 2015

Zsoka is a recent graduate with a field of Environmental Engineering and Environmental Studies focusing on Sustainability, Urban Development and Renewables. She has been active in international programs which enabled to sharpen her communication, problem-solving and professional skills. She has experience in Environmental Management at a multi-company, Sales and Business Strategy at a small enterprise and her recent research focuses on Urban Metabolism Mapping. She is dedicated to life-long learning and her professional goal is to achieve balance between humanity and nature in such a way that it will contribute to a paradigm shift. She believes in the power of love, the importance of collaboration and the joy of life.


Thomas M. Bunn

January 30th, 2015 · No Comments · Winter 2015

Tom has had experience in investment banking in Colorado and Boston and, recently, in teaching History on a remote island in The Bahamas. In trying to combine the business-oriented side of banking with the community-oriented side of teaching in a developing country, Tom was drawn to Frontier Market Scouts. As a clear communicator with a track record in business development and financial analysis, Tom is pursuing a career in impact investing with a focus on Latin America and/or the alternative energy sector.


Deborah C. Lindsay

January 29th, 2015 · No Comments · Winter 2015

Deborah’s had a wide range of professional opportunities; from the co-founder of a successful non-profit to an HR manager for a Silicon Valley start-up. Currently, she works with an independent school as their Director of Operations and Enrollment and on the side, has her own consulting business that mentors small businesses through the “Crowdfunding” process. The thread that has run through all the work she’s done has been local economic reinvigoration, community building and environmental and social justice. Deborah has very strong strategic planning, business development and personnel skills. She is a progressive leader with a quick bottom-line mind that enables her to see the big picture clearly and she excels in  finding ways to move entrenched problems forward.  Her highest level of impact is identifying and catalyzing stakeholders, systems thinking and tapping into potential resources.



Helen Elizabeth Ashdown

January 29th, 2015 · No Comments · Winter 2015

Helen has developed a unique blend of highly valuable and transferable skills through both her professional career as a transfer pricing manager for Deloitte Tax LLP and her work with her own sustainable non profit organization in Ecuador. She has strong competencies in financial modeling; intangible property valuation and impact measurement that would be valuable in helping an organization better value, understand and manage their social impacts and financial performance. Her experience living and working with rural communities in Ecuador and her recent consulting experience developing a business plan for an El Salvadorian social enterprise has also given her profound intercultural communication skills, a strong proficiency in the Spanish language and a passion for development in Latin America. This along with her project management skills and her impact investing experience will allow her to play a vital role in business impact measurement and evaluation strategy.



Maria Jimenez

January 29th, 2015 · No Comments · Winter 2015

Maria’s experiences in both banking and finance management have given her a valuable background and skillset to bring to an impact investment organization. She has strong competencies in financial modeling, analyzing financial statements and financial ratios, which allow her to make valuable contributions to the due-diligence activities of the organization. She is a native Spanish speaker having lived, studied and worked in Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Honduras. Her professional experiences have given her strong management, problem-solving, coaching and communication skills; these enable her to play a vital role in working in a multicultural, multi-country and fast-paced environment.

She also brings a successful social enterprise experience from having worked as a volunteer coach with a Peruvian entrepreneur on the final development of his business plan. His business plan won a National Award in Peru and a Global award in Holland in 2010.

Her most recent professional experience in an international non-profit organization includes many activities in line with social investment organization operations.

All of this gives her industry knowledge in impact investing and social enterprise relevant to an impact investment organization’s core business.


Lindsey Krummell

January 29th, 2015 · No Comments · Winter 2015

Lindsey’s interest in social entrepreneurship and business development stems from her experience founding a social enterprise in Thailand focusing on economic diversification. She also has a strong background in international development policy after working with the United Nations to craft national policies in preparation for post-2015 development agenda negotiations. She has further experience in public relations, marketing, and public health. Lindsey has worked on three continents and speaks two languages.


Leslie Graham

January 29th, 2015 · No Comments · Winter 2015

Leslie Graham is an experienced consultant and fundraiser, based in Los Angeles.  Since earning her MBA, she has consulted with numerous community-based organizations, social service agencies and local governments on capacity building issues.  She currently works as the Director of Development at CalArts, where she links the institute’s financial goals to funding opportunities, both private and public. Having extensive experience as a management consultant for small nonprofit organizations, Leslie particularly enjoys working in the field to establish relationships based on shared interests and mutual goals.

With her planned transition into the social enterprise field, she would like to work with a growing organization that would benefit from her diverse skills – project management, business planning, and strategy – and involve her in the decision-making process.


With FMS, Leslie is looking for an assignment focused on social enterprise development (regionally or locally) or with an environment-focused funder. She speaks French and is eager to improve her Spanish.


Alex Kopelyan

January 29th, 2015 · No Comments · Winter 2015

Alex is a 2014 University of Iowa pharmacy school graduate with a passion for preventive medicine through lifestyle improvement and patient education. He currently works with Self Spark, a lifehacking startup that focuses on creating positive lifestyle behavior change through behavioral science and technology. He has a broad range of healthcare internship experience, from macro level projects (at US-FDA, GlaxoSmithKline, Management Sciences for Health, and PATH) to one on one work with patients in clinical settings. He hopes to work with a healthcare focused fund to learn how they evaluate and support individual enterprises, as well as analyze and project market trends.



Maura Dilley

January 29th, 2015 · No Comments · Winter 2015

Maura has unique experience in management consulting and field development for social enterprise. Her strengths are in strategy and design for systemic change, community engagement and education. She is a creative individual driven to share stories of social and environmental triumph through unique program design, speaking, writing. As a consultant, she has developed strong project management, problem-solving and facilitation skills. As a co-owner of a small business (an independent cinema and café) she is versed in the ground-level practicalities of small business administration as well as design research for new services and community engagement. Maura cares deeply for ocean health and is working to end plastic pollution through materials and systems innovation and to help people economically dependent on environmental degradation achieve alternative livelihoods.


John O’Sullivan

January 28th, 2015 · No Comments · Winter 2015

John’s experience in banking and finance has consisted of energy-focused internships in which he was able to develop a broad understanding of the industry and related business economics. He has proven himself to be a dedicated worker who enjoys participating with colleagues and clients alike and is quick to adapt and immerse himself in new environments. Most recently, John had the opportunity to work as an analyst for Jefferies Group, an investment-banking firm that specializes in mergers and acquisitions, restructuring, and financial advisory services. He worked alongside financial analysts as they developed valuation models, created company overviews of various mid and large-cap companies, and prepared investment committee materials for potential investments.

Through his investment experience, John developed a strong analytical and valuations skillset that he looks forward to bringing to fellowship opportunities offered by the Frontier Market Scouts Program.