GoodRoots is a Berlin- and India-based impact investment and consulting firm, which combines expertise in the areas of incubation and investment into social enterprises with alternative impact measurement for mission-oriented organizations – be they foundations, corporations or private individuals. We invest patient capital and seed funding in our portfolio organizations and at the same time we work closely with investors and grantees to enhance their individual capabilities, foster organizational development and build a sustainable infrastructure for long term growth.
Martin´s and Susanna´s history goes back to 2008, when Susanna founded the predecessor of today’s GoodRoots, which has been working with strategic philanthropists, foundations and non-profits in highlighting the social impact of their projects through innovative means. Step-by-step the company has been fusing concepts of social impact measurement, utilisation-focused evaluation and organizational change. Main clients have been mission-oriented organizations both in Germany and abroad (on an international level the focus has been on the Middle East and Northern Africa).
Starting in 2010, Martin spent several years in India setting up FemS3, an incubator for start-up social enterprises. Through seed-funding and piloting social-enterprise models in such areas as rural housing, urban water supply, health, livelihood and waste management FemS3 helps start-up social enterprises to scale up and become self-sustainable. Martin also is the Germany Country Representative of the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA)
In May 2015 Susanna and Martin both joined forces, establishing the new brand GoodRoots which provides advisory services and business acumen to incubate viable small enterprises that create lasting social and financial impact for low-income people around the world. On this mission GoodRoots can also count on a strong partnership with Social Synergy, a high-profile consulting company from Mumbai, India.
Our mission is to grow viable sustainable businesses that generate earnings or savings for people with low incomes around the world thereby improving their livelihoods.
Capitalism and liberal market economics have produced significant global growth over the last four decades. Millions of people in emerging markets were lifted out of poverty. However, over 2 billion people around the world continue to be poor. Global income distribution remains highly unequal and income inequalities are increasing, especially in emerging market economies. In addition, there are many new and unprecedented challenges facing us, including climate change, loss of biodiversity, high levels of structural unemployment, a global financial crisis and political instability, especially among youth who have no jobs or are in low quality jobs.
Households at the BOP have been the least likely to participate in global economic growth due to multiple constraints – lack of access to education and health resources, limited access to financial capital to grow their businesses or fund their economic activities, disadvantages of geography, exclusion from political and economic decision making forums, and position in the social hierarchy, among others. Through its various practice areas, GoodRoots seeks to directly and indirectly address these constraints.
We have spent the past year doing in-depth analysis on the ground in India as well as research and interviews with funders and investors, non-profit organisations and other intermediaries both in Germany, Europe and abroad. We wanted to learn more about the progress and success stories but we also wanted to find out about the still existing deficits and the possible mistakes that were made in the areas of social enterprise development and impact investing. And of course we asked stakeholders what they thought would have to be done to „get it right“.
For us it has become increasingly clear, that there is a mismatch between the two sides of the social enterprise spectrum – funders/investors on one side and social enterprises on the other. Too much money is chasing mature and investable social enterprises, whereas early-stage social businesses, due to a lack of trust and understanding, are desperately seeking patient funding or seed capital. Many experts believe that this vacuum is the key reason why the “market” is not able to absorb investment capital close to the order of magnitude being talked about.
The outcome of this learning process is an approach, which we believe sets us apart from most other players in the field. We want to fill the “missing middle” between very early stage social enterprise models and more mature models. Hence we work closely „on the ground“ in order to get a more in-depth understanding of the needs and the aspirations of the people that we serve. In this context we are fully aware that impact measurement can only be understood in combination with longterm organizational development and change.
Identifying Market-Based Solutions
We help philanthropic funders and investors to understand the opportunities and challenges in building sustainable market based solutions for social development. We strongly believe in the participation of our beneficiaries in both value chain processes and program development. During our work on the ground we have recognized that there is a flawed notion of social (impact) investment. You cannot simply adapt the mechanisms of the capital markets to fields such as poverty alleviation or fighting environmental degredation. Instead it takes a patient bottom-up approach.
Investing into Early Stage Social Enterprises
We source and facilitate grants and seed investments as an instrument to help social entrepreneurs to develop their models as well as improving the livelihood of the communities where they are operating. Our way of engaging with social entrepreneurs follows along the line of a holistic two-step approach: It comprises of a financial and a consulting (technical advisory) component.
Driving Scale and Impact
Many NGOs and social enterprises have developed game-changing products, services, and intervention programs that could significantly improve the lives of those who live at the BoP. But many still lack the right tools and capabilities to drive scale and impact. We work with them to design business models and innovative approaches to deliver such scale and impact.
Monitoring&Evaluation, Process Design and Organizational Development
Impact assessment has become a buzzword in social investment since many years now but only few approaches out there are combining both the needs of the entrepreneur on the ground and the return-expectations of the investors and funders. We are fusing statistical rigour necessary to monitor and evaluate investments with a focus on evaluation: We are developing M&E systems that primarily enable both the investor and the social entrepreneur to learn together what works and what does not.
Through our work in the non-profit as well as in the still emerging social-enterprise sector we have learned that there is a growing need for new and alternative ways of „measuring“ impact: Facilitating shared learning spaces for philanthropists and their grantees, for social entrepreneurs as well as for impact investors. Our track record in fusing organizational development, capability enhancement and monitoring and evaluation systems is quite substantial by now both in Europe and abroad.
We utilize in-depth knowledge on the Ground
Meet our Clients and Investees!
Here is a selection of partners and clients we have or have had the privilege to work with:
Our input: Multi-year programme setting up an incubator for social enterprises in India.
Seed funding, on-the-ground consulting and development of social business models.
Eureka Forbes Ltd.
Our input: Technical advisory for Eureka Forbes, a Pvt. Ltd. company producing water
purifiers in launching social enterprises in slum areas of Agra and Mumbai.
Our input: Marketing and Fundraising towards private and public investors in Europe.
Supporting SAVE/VIKAS in making the salt farming operations as well as “SAHYOG” their farmer cooperative by turning them into social enterprises.
Farms ‘n Farmers
Our input: Member of the Advisory Board of one of India’s most high-profile social
enterprises. Technical and Strategic consulting in order to optimize Farms ‘n Farmers value chain.
German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce
Our input: Workshops in Berlin and Cairo supporting young social entrepreneurs in developing sustainable business models.
Lucerne School of Art and Design:Extensive workshop on “Business Design at the Bottom-of-the-Pyramid”
Our input: Facilitated and coordinated the evaluation of the foundation´s strategy in Germany.
J. P. Morgan Chase Foundation / Projektfabrik gGmbH
Our input: Developed a useful Monitoring and Evaluation system for the whole social enterprise.
Numerous United Nations organizations, humanitarian NGOs and European funders
Our input: Susanna has worked (and still is working) together with the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) in the capacity of a non resident fellow in their humanitarian evaluation programme since 2008. She has participated in or is leading evaluations in the international humanitarian and development sector for clients such as UNDP, UNICEF, DG ECHO, DFID, GIZ, German Government, Danish Refugee Council, UNPOS etc.
Please have a closer look at our work!
Indian TV Programme „Times Now” is featuring Rajesh Shah, the founder of VIKAS/SAVE, which is supporting underprivileged salt-workers in Gujarat, India.
SABRAS Pvt. Ltd., a social enterprise based out of Ahmedabad in the Northwestern Indian state of Gujarat is currently working on scaling up its operations in supporting small-scale salt farmers. Under extreme weather conditions about 10.000 of these so-called “Agariyas” produce salt by pumping out “under-ground brine” (salty water) in a desert called Little Rann of Kutch in the North-Western State of Gujarat. About 70% of their cost is related to buying diesel fuel to operate the pumps.
Martin Vogelsang – May 2015
Telling Stories for Impact: How Storytelling Contributes to Organizational Development in Social Enterprises and Non-Profits
Burkhard Schaffitzel, member of the German goodroot team, has been working and writing about stories as an enrichment for impact assessment. We find this a new and very promising domain for an alternative view on impact measurement since the quest for hard data in this field has sprawled to an extent that is questionable in our view.
Schaffitzel, Burkhard | Blogpost | March 9th, 2015
Der Sozialinvestor (The Social Investor)
This is an article about Martins work with FemS3 (in German, sorry about that). It has appeared in one of the most acknowledged publications in the impact investing sector in Germany and describes well what he has been contributing to.
Der Sozialinvestor | enorm | March 2013
Constructing” a local drinking water enterprise: searching for impact beyond the business model
Case study (Agra, India) on collaboration between FEMS3, Centre for Urban And Regional Excellence (CURE), Eureka Forbes‘ Community Fulfillment Division and a women’s SelfHelp Group “Nai Aha Swaya Sahayata Samuha”
Field Research, April 2013 | Release, June 2013
FemS3’s international ties stem from its parent organization, Associazione Fem Italia Onlus, an Italian organization founded in 2006 to empower women and support microventures in South Asia and Latin America. They are also part of a broad network under MicroVentures, an investment firm that specializes in lending to microfinance institutions emerging countries in Asia and Latin America.
February 18, 2013
Susanna, while working together with the Mercator Foundation in Germany (from 2008-2014) has published together with a colleague her lessons learned when it comes to leading and facilitating change in educational programmes funded by private foundations…
Krüger, Susanna; Lehner, Kerstin, | Alliance Magazine, Volume 17, Number 4 | December 2012.
Final report to the J. P. Morgan Chase foundation about PROJEKTFABRIK, a German social enterprise, working with unemployed youth.
goodroot (between 2011-2013) has accompanied PROJEKTFABRIK, a very interesting german social enterprise which is working with unemployed youth, to measure their social impact and develop their organizational capacities. This report was the final one, sponsored by J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation, focussing on our two-year process and its outcomes.