RENEW Strategies

In the Field with RENEW - Part 2

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Matthew Davis, CFA
| April 12, 2012

Continuing with In the Field with RENEW, we share what a typical week looks like for the RENEW team in Ethiopia.

Question: “What exactly does the RENEW team do in a typical week?”

Answer: There are a number of things we do when we are working in a country like Ethiopia. Our activities are generally organized into a few bins:

  • Bin 1 – Building a trusted network: As I mentioned in our last post, without a network of people you trust, working in emerging economies would be nearly impossible. Thus, our team invests considerable amounts of our time finding people we can trust. This is not a quantity game, and takes time. This is an art not a science. Do you have good emotional intelligence? If so, you’ll do well at building a trusted network. People need to trust you, and they will not if you rush your time with them, make the purpose of every meeting about ‘your objectives’, come off as self-serving, or don’t respect local customs. Our team spends about 30% of our time building a trusted network. This number is especially high at the onset of our time in a country. This looks like going to dinners, grabbing coffees, hosting dinners, or meeting for drinks. Our goal is to build genuine, mutually beneficial relationships.
  • Bin 2 – Finding and vetting opportunities: Initially, we don’t spend a lot of time in the field building up our pipeline with opportunities. Once we have a strong trusted network, our time is more focused on vetting opportunities. This isn’t just due diligence, but also requires considerable amounts of time preparing the documentation needed to invest in a business. Initially the team spends about 25% of our time in this bin, and later much more as we become more established.
  • Bin 3 – Understanding how to navigate the system: This is another HUGE time commitment, especially at the beginning of our time in a country. This involves meeting with government officials, and traveling from one office to the next, until we can find someone that has the latest information about investment laws, knows the right procedures, and has the current forms. This takes up about 30% of our time. It involves face-to-face meetings, traveling from one office to the next, desk research, and meeting with local attorneys and accountants. Understanding how to navigate the system makes up one of the biggest investments our company has to bear, but it is absolutely necessary to ensure we create the right environment for our impact angels to invest.
  • Bin 4 – Prep and follow-up: Finally, when we can find a good hotspot, we are emailing and making calls to either prepare for an angel trip, or follow up with angels in the U.S. Ensuring we are responsive to requests from investors is very important, especially in a world where responsiveness and quality are still developing habits.

There is a fifth bin, which we could call “the RENEW magic” but we’ll save that for those of you who will work with us. We can’t give all of our secrets away. ;)

In our next post we will answer, “How do I become an impact angel?” Until then, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or follow us on Twitter @RENEWLLC.