Minh Vo grew up in Vietnam and, during high-school, traveled and volunteered in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and China before entering the U.S for college. His first successful entrepreneurial experience was starting an annual public campaign advocating for and providing direct provisions for abandoned children in his home city (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) while pursuing a high-school education in Singapore. His second was taking a gap year before college to sustain it; his third (and current) is starting a Life Skill and Character Development Program for young orphans in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Now, he is a rising College Senior at Swarthmore College, having recently developed a deep interest in impact investing since his participation in Net Impact Conference 2012.
On assignment, Scouts will spend 3-12 months providing due diligence for investors and technical assistance for entrepreneurs with the goal of generating high-quality deal flows and supporting portfolio companies at a low cost. Scouts provide much-needed human capital to help small and medium-sized social enterprises scale.
This year’s winter 2014 cohort is the 7th generation of Scouts to complete the training program. To date Frontier Market Scouts has trained over 240 social enterprise professionals from 20 countries.
About Frontier Market Scouts
The Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) Program selects and trains social enterprise professionals who desire a career in social venture management and impact investing. Jointly developed and managed by the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Sanghata Global, and Village Capital, the FMS program turns compassionate and capable professionals into talent scouts and investment managers serving local entrepreneurs and social-minded investors in low-income and weak-capital regions of the world.
Some of the scouts enjoy a detour to the Golden Gate Bridge prior to the event
Our scouts took a well-deserved day off last Monday but showed no sign of slowing as they travelled to San Francisco to take part in a special networking event. On hand were members of the impact investing community of Northern California; current and former scouts, including Ravi Kurani, an FMS alum and founder of ImpactSpace, an excellent open data source in the impact investing world focused on bringing together and powering the global impact market. Also on hand were several highly regarded impact investors, many friends of FMS interested in impact investing and even the Honorary Consul of Romania in San Francisco, George Roth! Who expressed particular interest in our program and its possibilities in Romania.
It was a wonderful event in downtown San Francisco allowing the scouts to network as well as get to know the arena they will be working in and the people they will be working with. Within a short time frame and a room full of eager professionals, the scouts achieved no small task in advocating their abilities and aptitudes in fine form.
One of the two winning teams: Fish in the Fields showing their fish faces.
The Winter 2014 Scouts are hard at work creating business models for their ideal social enterprises. Five groups created the next wave of socially conscious businesses with top to bottom sustainability in mind.
The Scouts started with a dream company of their own creation and turned them into a business model to present. Each team presents the dream company of one member and the entire team completes a business model based on that company.
Going from an idea to a model in two days of Yuwei’s class was a true challenge that our scouts accepted with grace and executed with hard work. They utilized their bright minds by working together through the challenges of social entrepreneurship. Here are the teams:
Team A – Peregrine Impact Plus is a lean startup focused on enabling migrant laborers in India to become vocationally and financially trained. Their business model establishes a connection between employees, and vocational and financial education to create stronger employees.
Team B – Frontier Data & Distribution is bridging the gap between social enterprises and their constituents by utilizing a business model based on data acquisition and analysis. Selling market data to social and corporate enterprises for Bottom of the Pyramid customers.
Team C – Fish in the Fields addresses the question of how to raise baitfish utilizing rice paddies. By focusing on environmental and social impact, they are on the forefront of sustainability by selling bait-fish grown in Northern California rice paddies to fish farmers in Mexico – creating an entirely organic supply chain.
Team D – Pense provides financial products and services to small shop owners in East Africa through banking and financial knowledge. It works with M-Pesa to facilitate capital flows and also provides sales data.
Team E – Power2thePeople sells renewable energy to rural communities and addresses this with small-scale solar development for the 1.2 billion people don’t have access to reliable energy.
Our Winners, Fish in the Fields and Pense, each received a bottle of California Pinot Noir and the admiration of their colleagues for outstanding business models. Congratulations to all scouts for pulling together such excellent and thorough models in such a short amount of time.
Michelle is an experienced project manager and business analyst in the international financial markets industry. She wishes to harness her private sector experience for the benefit of the impact-investing sector. Michelle believes that a business must incorporate quantitative ‘social value’ as the norm and that coupled with the use of social innovation, hopes to overcome the challenges facing ‘bottom of the pyramid’ consumers and separately also tackle the lack of effective funding models. Most recently, as a member of the Young Professional Network board for Women’s World Banking, Michelle has been an active, positive ambassador and advocate for the benefits of microfinance through the organization of quarterly education and social events, whilst also engaging in continual learning. Michelle is originally from Sydney, Australia however has been fortunate enough to work, live and study in Singapore, London and New York. Michelle has a graduate degree in Finance and Accounting from the University of Sydney and currently resides in New York.