Designing a National Advisory Board for Impact Investing in Peru

Something fundamental has shifted. As a society we have collectively understood a harsh reality: our current profit-centric systems allow for the pervasive and systemic continuation of inequities. The pandemic sped up our desire for a new modus operandi for society, one that intentionally centres on people and planet alongside economic growth.

Notably, there is enormous interest and opportunity for a transition towards impact investing in Latin America. After having conducted a similar engagement in Colombia and supported by the Government of Canada, four partner organizations including Deetken Impact, SVX Canada, SVX Mexico, and Impacto have combined forces to work on an ecosystem development project in Peru, including sector mapping, developing education strategies, and creating an action plan for a proposed National Advisory Board (NAB) on impact investing.

In our previous blog post we explored different National Advisory Board case studies from leading impact investing countries in Latin America. In continuation of the same theme, this blog post will share key elements necessary to consider for the creation of a National Advisory Board on Impact Investing whether it be by stakeholders in Peru or elsewhere.

In particular, this blog post seeks to address the following key questions for consideration by impact investing ecosystem stakeholders to factor in the design of a local NAB:

  • What guiding principles will help to provide direction to the proposed NAB?
  • Who are potential lead partners for the NAB?
  • What is the ideal governance structure and membership?
  • What is a reasonable framework for the operations of the proposed NAB?
  • What will the core mandate and programs be for the proposed NAB?

This post is being shared publicly in advance of a Peruvian impact investing ecosystem stakeholder event, planned for April 13, 2021.

A National Advisory Board is a multi-sector platform designed to promote the practice and efficacy of impact investing within national (and now regional) contexts. These entities are, “…tasked in principle with goals of educating specific places about impact investing, promoting the field, and helping to develop public policy environments that support it.” There are currently 33 National Advisory Boards (NABs) operating in countries around the world, with a global secretariat known as the Global Steering Group (GSG) for Impact Investment located in London, UK.

It takes time and commitment to start and launch a National Advisory Board. The Guiding Principles listed below can act as a starting point to guide the creation of a NAB:

  • Accessible: Ensure that engagement and participation in the National Advisory Board (NAB) is accessible to stakeholders, without financial or other barriers to entry.
  • Representative: Although not a democratic body, the overall NAB governance should seek to be as representative as possible of the range of ecosystem actors, as well as seek balanced representation that includes women, indigeneous, and racialized communities.
  • Low-cost / efficient: The budget and operations of the National Advisory Board will need to be low cost and efficient, leveraging in-kind support of partners and stakeholders.
  • Influence: Seek to engage mainstream actors, including those in finance and government, to build their understanding, interest and activity in impact investing.
  • Term: The National Advisory Board (NAB) should have a pre-established term (eg. 3/5/10 years) to advance its overall mandate, with the potential for a renewed term upon agreement of partners.
  • Neutral Convenor: The NAB should seek to act as an independent, multi-sector convenor to help catalyze the development of the impact investing ecosystem in Peru. It is not intended to be an ecosystem actor, investor, funder, product developer, or service provider.
  • Locally shaped: Seek to organize the NAB and its activities in line with the shape and stage of the impact investing ecosystem in Peru.
  • Cross-sectoral: Alongside core sector representatives, invite participation from academia, mainstream financial services, and government to participate in the National Advisory Board.
  • Long term culture / systems change: The NAB should seek to support and advance cultural change in the approach of capital markets, government, and the general public to investing and enterprise.
  • Transparent: The NAB should have an, “Impartial, inclusive and transparent selection process for NAB membership.”
  • Non-hierarchical / horizontal: Adopt a horizontal approach to the management and governance of the NAB.

In designing a NAB, it is crucial to identify local key partners such as core partners and lead funders.

  • Core Partners: Secure a lead organization or small set of leading organizations (up to 3) to initially host the National Advisory Board. In Peru, entities including NESsT, PECAP, COFIDE, Kunan, ALIVE, Aporta, UNDP, or Ministerio del Ambiente (MINAM) represent candidates to act as core organizations to host the NAB.
  • Lead Funders: Seek support from one or a small set of lead funders that can help with initial set-up and ongoing operations for at least a three (3) year runway. Local foundations, stakeholders, state organizations, and global and bilateral aid organizations, could act as lead funders for the NAB.

Below are some best practice suggestions to consider when designing a NAB’s governance structure and membership model.

  • Executive: Establish a relatively small (8–12) group of leading representatives who can participate in the inaugural National Advisory Board (NAB) for an initial two (2) year commitment. Core partner representatives may hold a longer term (3–5 years) for continuity on the National Advisory Board (NAB). An established set of criteria should be developed to ensure balanced, cross-sectoral representation, including: Impact investing intermediaries; Public policy and political leaders (current or past); Academia; Mainstream finance; Philanthropy; and organizations working with or representing entrepreneurs.
  • Working Groups: Establish relevant working groups for the National Advisory Board (NAB), which may include: public policy, research and data, member and stakeholder engagement, and strategy. The NAB may also seek to establish sector specific working groups on topics including: biodiversity, climate action, and human rights. Members of the Executive Board should participate as much as possible in the Working Groups.
  • Community Advisors/Members: As a part of the National Advisory Board (NAB) establish a community advisors group that is open to all impact investing stakeholders that can convene on a regular basis (eg. annually for sector convenings and monthly/bi-monthly for educational events) that would seek to:
  • Inform the sector priorities and organizational priorities of the National Advisory Board (NAB);
  • Make recommendations to the nominating committee for the National Advisory Board Executive (NAB);
  • Participate in the working groups of the National Advisory Board (NAB); and
  • Build knowledge and capacity in impact investing.
  • GSG: Participate as a member of the Global Steering Group (GSG).
  • Time commitment: The NAB will be successful based on the time and dedication of stakeholders engaged in the organization. As a stakeholder driven organization, Executive, Working Group, and Community members should expect to provide a reasonable time commitment to the work. Similar models of contribution can be found in the Impact Management Project (IMP).

Below are some operational and budgeting considerations to keep in mind throughout the design of a NAB.

  • Staffing: Establish a small secretariat with at least one full-time resource to organize the activities of the NAB. Sector knowledge and willingness to collaborate is critical amongst the staff of the secretariat.
  • Multi-Partner Operations: Seek to engage one or more partner academic institutions and ecosystem leaders to provide support to deliver on the mandate and programs of the organization. This is particularly important given the level of financial resources available.
  • Multi-Country Support: Explore the potential for the secretariat to provide support to other Andean countries, particularly Bolivia and Ecuador. Each country would organize and maintain its own governance model, but operational support could be provided through a single secretariat. This could increase the efficiency and impact of operations of the NAB.
  • Budget: Secure an initial budget of $25–50,000 for the set-up of the NAB, and $100,000 on an annual basis for NAB operations, including staff, events, travel, and programs. The initial budget should include a set aside for a signature report and/or a communications strategy (eg. blog posts, case studies, etc.).

In curating and creating the conditions for a thriving and vibrant impact investing ecosystem, Peruvian NAB stakeholders can undertake the following suggested mandates and programs.

  • Ecosystem mandate: The NAB should seek to maintain and develop the core components of a vibrant impact ecosystem in Peru.
  • Priority Actions: Establish a finite set of sector priority actions, with recommendations that can target changes to public policy (global, national and local/regional), mainstream finance, and philanthropic sectors.
  • Public Report: Consolidate priority actions of the ecosystem into a public report that could be released to engage media, government, mainstream finance, and the general public in impact investing. As possible with available resources, this inaugural report could also include sector data, case studies, and sector mapping.
  • Ecosystem Reporting, Data and Mapping: Act as a hub for data on the impact investing ecosystem, including regular (bi-annual) reports on ecosystem activities, progress on priority actions, sector data (eg. assets, no. of intermediaries, no. of entrepreneurs), and sector mapping. The sector map developed by the ecosystem development initiative supported by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) could be housed at the NAB.
  • Annual Convenings: Seek to convene stakeholders on an annual basis.
  • Public Policy Focus: Have a particular focus on public policy recommendations to the national government in order to create an enabling regulatory environment for impact investing to flourish in Peru.
  • Impact Investing Principles: Seek to develop shared principles for impact investing in Peru. This will avoid the perennial challenge of developing a single, common definition for the sector.
  • Public Policy Education: The NAB could design and deliver educational programming for current, future and past public policy leaders to build their impact investing understanding and capacity. This could include workshops, certificate programs, or community webinars.
  • Other Potential Programs: Depending on the role of industry players and lead organizations, the NAB could also seek to advance other mandates and programs including:
  • Information and knowledge sharing: Seek to prepare case studies, organize learning communities, organize educational webinars etc.;
  • Ecosystem infrastructure development:
  • Bilateral exchange: Engage in partnerships and learning with peer countries in North and South America.
  • Sequencing: The NAB would seek to sequence or stage the launch of proposed programs based on ecosystem conditions and priorities. For example, stakeholders may view public policy as a greater or lesser opportunity based on political conditions and sector priorities.

Figure: Core Components of a Vibrant Impact Ecosystem

Listed here are some proposed next steps for Peruvian stakeholders to contemplate as they continue through the NAB development process.

  • Test the findings of this report with potential lead partners and stakeholders.
  • Establish an initial group of advisors who can provide insight and direction to the NAB, and could represent a potential pool of candidates for the NAB.
  • Secure the lead organization or small set of organizations that could host or co-host the NAB.
  • Secure start-up and operating funding to support the NAB.
  • Seek to identify, recruit and select the inaugural group of leading representatives for the Executive of the National Advisory Board (NAB). An established set of criteria should be developed to ensure balanced, cross-sectoral representation. Feedback can be solicited on this criteria to ensure transparency and stakeholder engagement.
  • Organize a national convening of stakeholders to present the NAB Executive and initial framework for the NAB.
  • Establish key deliverables and objectives for the first year of the NAB, including organizational design, establishing priority actions, and releasing a public report. This Action Plan can provide a template for organizational design, and case examples of priority actions from other countries.

We hope this plan provides a living document to provide an evolving framework to local leaders that will start-up a NAB in Peru. We look forward to further insights and feedback at the upcoming April event, and we welcome any comments and questions below.

SVX is financial services firm & impact investing platform connecting ventures, funds, and investors to catalyze investment capital for impact. #ImpInv #SocEnt