Silver Linings from the Factor[e] Portfolio
The outbreak of COVID-19 has left no industry unaffected and we have been sobered by the projected effects the pandemic may have in the markets in which we work. The United Nations is now warning that for the first time in thirty years we will see an increase in global poverty – and that at least a half billion people could slip into destitution by the end of the year.
This is hard news to hear for a firm that has spent the last seven years dedicated to improving the lives of people in emerging markets. But to be resilient means to not dwell on the dire but instead focus on and strive towards realizing the endless possibilities for improvement that still exist.
Our portfolio companies are showing us what this looks like on a daily basis as they dig in their heels, adapt, make hard decisions with integrity, and continue to create a positive impact.
Here are just a few of the silver lining stories from across our portfolio:
InspiraFarms provides cold storage, packhouse, and ripening solutions and services to agribusiness in the emerging markets. Despite their headquarters being on full lockdown in Italy, the company managed to deliver and install a 320 square meter Packshed complete with 2 precoolers, temperature-controlled packing room, and finished goods cooling and storage room in Zimbabwe. The key to the successful installation was the remote support from InspiraFarm’s technical team in Italy to the local subcontractor and project manager in Zimbabwe.
This facility has created jobs for many women in the rural community who will now be grading and packing fresh produce for export.
60Hertz Energy is a maintenance software company whose primary market is village-scale microgrid energy operators. However, during recent months, 60Hertz has explored its platform’s ability to adapt and respond to the changing circumstances around them. 60Hertz discovered it can provide value to biomedical technicians or nurses who must repair or maintain their ventilators. With initial funding from the Office of Naval Research, the company is creating a subproduct for these health emergency response workers.
60Hertz’s value proposition to bring human-centered software to support and train the people who maintain critical assets remains the same, they’ve just tailored their tool to the meet the needs of often overlooked people working on the frontlines of COVID-19 response.
Ferntech provides mini-grid operators a way to remotely monitor and control their off-grid sites, a capability that has proven invaluable during the COVID-19 outbreak. Ferntech customer Equatorial Power Ltd has relied on Ferntech’s product to remotely support their minigrid site on an island off the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the past few months. This site services over 300 households and businesses. With travel and logistics restricted due to COVID-19, a reliable electricity supply is critical, and so is the ability to remotely maintain these assets.
Crofarm is a tech-enabled agriculture supply chain solution that reduces waste and increases price fairness for farmers in India. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the agri-supply chain in India has been disrupted due to both the decreased availability of logistics and also the reduced number of people going to mandis (rural markets). Crofarm has been able to continue to serve both farmers and customers during this time by increasing their home delivery capabilities in response to the surge of online ordering.
Continuing to Create Impact
The pandemic has brought about unexpected circumstances and restricted resources in our sector. This has forced our companies to adapt and adapt quickly.
We commend all of our companies that are harnessing these seemingly inhibitive factors to catalyze new and innovative approaches to continue to create impact in emerging markets.