RENEW Strategies

An Angel Investor’s Perspective

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Erin O'Connor
| June 14, 2019

Read our 2018 Impact Report

A blog by Beth Marqeutte (IAN Investor, Laura Davis’ sister). This blog is an excerpt from our 2018 Impact Report.

We didn’t have the opportunity to visit Desta during the period in 2014 when I lived in Ethiopia with my husband, Joel, and our four children, but I do remember seeing pictures of the site from the early days when they were first getting started before the IAN invested. We chose to invest in Desta because it aligned with our commitment to impact investing in Ethiopia and our philosophy to build a diverse portfolio. We’ve been participants in a number of different investment opportunities with RENEW and the Impact Angel Network over the years, and we saw Desta as a company with a solid growth opportunity that we could get behind.

With a professional background in human resources, I really like to visit manufacturing sites where things are physically made. Each time I visit a factory or a processing site, it connects me to the people that create the things that I use for my life; the clothes that I wear and the food that I consume. I appreciate the everyday things more when I consider the resources and talent involved to make these things.

Walking onto the Desta manufacturing floor during the Econ-Tourism Trip in 2016, I recall seeing a workforce made up primarily of women engaging in the process of creating textile goods. We went through the cutting room with its large rolls of multi-colored fabric. We spent the majority of our time in the sewing assembly area watching hundreds of women at work in their sewing stations, assembling uniform shirts. The workspace was clean, well-lit and the employees seemed to be highly engaged in their work. I was able to talk with the production
manager about training for employees, turnover, production goals, and the compensation and benefits. We concluded our visit in the finishing room where quality checks were completed and clothes were labeled and tagged for distribution and shipping. I left with a sense that Desta was creating decent jobs for many people, especially women, in an economy that struggles with substantial underemployment and unemployment.

The textile industry worldwide has historically had a negative reputation for working conditions and human rights, so initially, we had to trust the RENEW team’s due diligence on Desta to make an assessment of the working conditions and the leadership team’s commitment to the international work standards for the industry. Hearing about some of the international brands and customers that Desta serves and knowing their commitment to their workers and standards helped convince me of the investment. Later, having the experience of walking through the production area myself to observe the operations and to talk with the employees, I felt very comfortable with the investment we had made, despite the industry’s reputations. Ultimately, my husband and I are fairly practical in our approach to opportunities like Desta. Sure, there have been issues in the industry, but clothes need to be manufactured somewhere and many people are employed in the textile industry. If we can be a part of a company that cares for its employees and provides, in the words of the Sustainable Development Goals, “decent work” then, in our assessment, this is a winwin in terms of an investment.

Click here to read out full Impact Report, "A Journey of Impact"

Note: The information included in the Impact Report relating to the performance of Impact Angel Network (IAN) portfolio companies is preliminary and has not been audited. Information about any one company in the portfolio, such as Desta PLC, is provided as a recounting of the IAN’s interactions with one company its members have invested in and happenings at that company. Such information is not intended as performance data related to the IAN’s investment in the company described. Information about one or more IAN portfolio companies pertains only to the company/ies described and may not be indicative of other companies in the IAN’s portfolio or the performance of investments in them. Any discussion of the performance of companies or investments or their social impact is no guarantee that such performance or impact will be realized by other IAN portfolio companies or investments or in the future.

To find out more about RENEW or the IAN, contact us at, follow us on Twitter @RENEWLLC or find us on Instagram @impactangelnetwork. Be sure to check out our upcoming events, including our upcoming Econ-Tourism Trip.