Why we are piloting the What Investors Want series

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Nov 16, 2021

Our Global Prosperity research at the Christensen Institute is guided by two simple questions: What is the causal mechanism behind prosperity? And how can we engender it globally? 

So far, we have learned that market-creating innovations not only lift people out of poverty, but also catapults them to prosperity. These innovations, which transform complicated and expensive products into simple and affordable ones, create a foundation for robust economic growth and pave the way to a more just and equitable world. 

Because market-creating innovations require organizations to make, market, sell, service, and advertise products to people who historically didn’t have access, these innovations are more than just products or services. They are systems which often require capital to build. Most entrepreneurs, especially those in growth economies, struggle to raise capital to grow their businesses. For instance, less than one percent of startups raise venture capital. 

That’s why we are piloting the What Investors Want webinar series in collaboration with the University of Toronto Entrepreneurship Center. 

The series is designed to pull back the curtain on how investors think about and make investment decisions. Our hope is to learn as much as we can from investors so we can increase an entrepreneur’s odds of raising capital.

In each session, my co-host, Efosa Obano, and I asked investors questions to get a better sense for how entrepreneurs can get their attention and how they assess investment decisions. These investors also walked us through several deals and explained why they chose to invest in some and not others. They also provided details on how they support their portfolio companies. 

We launched the three-session pilot with Lise Birikundavyi on November 16th and had more than 100 people attend her session. On November 23rd, we hosted Clemens Feil, an investor with the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation. In the third and final session in the pilot we’ll host Kola Aina, an investor interested in funding innovators leveraging tech-enabled solutions for problems in Africa.

The work of innovators is critical to building a better world. From reversing climate change to eradicating poverty, it is innovators who create solutions for people to pull into their lives who ultimately help the world advance. Our goal is to make their work a bit less difficult. Piloting the What Investors Want webinar series is just one step toward achieving that goal.

Efosa Ojomo is a senior research fellow at the Christensen Institute, and co-author of The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty. Efosa researches, writes, and speaks about ways in which innovation can transform organizations and create inclusive prosperity for many in emerging markets.