This month we’re celebrating everything finance and as such, we spoke with Ben Grozier from Beyond Capital Fund, a member company that helps investment-worthy social enterprises.
Ben shares his top finance tips for small businesses, what projects he’s most proud of and who has inspired him most.
To start, what is the inspiration behind Beyond Capital Fund?
Beyond Capital was founded to demonstrate that early-stage investors could make a financial return while also generating significant livelihood improvement for communities in need of access to basic goods and services.
How does Beyond Capital Fund help early stage social enterprises bridge the gap in access to capital?
Traditional investors view investing in the early stages in emerging markets as high-risk. Thus, a lack of seed and angel investors in emerging markets has created a capital gap that prevents investment-worthy social enterprises from reaching the institutional capital that is available. We aim to fill this capital gap by investing in those early stage enterprises that have identified a fundamentally good business model, demonstrate they can reach profitability, and are in need of the capital to scale.
What has been your proudest moment with Beyond Capital Fund?
We closed an investment earlier this year in a production, trading, and distribution business aimed at minimizing post-harvest losses in Tanzania. The Company buys fruits and vegetables directly from smallholder farmers and delivers to major local markets via cold chain logistics. Our investment will support the ongoing construction of the cold-chain, and provide the Company with working capital to increase existing purchase volumes. I am proud of this investment for two reasons: (1) by investing we support significant increases in smallholder farmer incomes today, and (2) we support the ongoing maturity of the agricultural market in East Africa, which will have much bigger ramifications for smallholder farmers long-term.
If you had 2 pieces of financial advice for someone just starting out, what would it be?
Keep costs low. Starting a business that generates revenue is hard enough. Try to minimize the burden on the business by keeping overhead and operational costs as low as possible.
Know your path to profitability. Be able to very clearly and plainly describe a path to profitability for your business. Early-stage investors recognise that it is tough to be profitable starting out. However, we expect management teams to be rigorous analysts of their own business models and to clearly understand and explain the scaling process and path to sustainability. The better an entrepreneur knows and can explain that path, and the ins and outs of getting there, the easier it is for us (and other investors!) to feel confident in the business.
What book, in your opinion, is a must-read for any startup?
Zero to One
by Peter Thiel because it encourages entrepreneurs to think differently. Thiel recommends entrepreneurs think about addressing new problems with new solutions. It is difficult to think differently in a world that inundates us with news, data, and information all the time.
Who is the one entrepreneur to be your greatest example?
Stemming from the answer above, Elon Musk thinks differently. He builds companies addressing the big problems most people shy away from or do not think about at all. Those entrepreneurs who can think outside the box and tackle the big issues are the ones that change the world.
Are you in need of financial help for your small business? Find out more about our member benefits