Keith Wallace - Let’s Talk Impact!
Making a difference and creating an impact while working in an industry that is made to generate large profits, is that possible? After listening to the story of Keith Wallace, Senior Investment Manager at Hivos Impact Investment, we know it is not only possible, but being done today.
Inspired by his uncle’s entrepreneurial spirit, his love for exploring the world, and ambitions to achieve big things in life, Keith knew from a young age that he wanted to do the same. After studying Law and International Relations in Denmark, Keith moved to The Hague and fell in love with the city’s history, atmosphere, and people.
Keith started an internship at a development foundation that focused on selling The Hague as a hotspot to American companies and got the opportunity to find matching companies on a trip to Silicon Valley. Soon after, he recognized the power of technology and the big changes that come with new innovations and quickly got involved with Lunatech, an IT development and consulting company. He set up a division for them, which not only invested in companies but also tackled global issues and spent time collaborating with entrepreneurs.
In 2009, Keith decided to set up The Investors Club and brought together investors who have since invested in more than 50 companies. At that time, one of his business partners was focused on creating impact, which was a novel idea that Keith had to warm up to at first. After observing the companies he worked with, he realized that the ones who strive to make a global impact and have a great business model are often doing better than regular businesses, which was truly eye-opening.
The Investors Club started investing more in companies that want to make a difference and improve people’s lives. Doing so enabled him to get in touch with the Hivos foundation which explored the option of creating impact through investments in Asia, Africa, and South America rather than giving grants. Keith got involved in a variety of projects, from crowdfunding platforms in the Middle East to a news forum “empowering all voices of Syria” and ended up becoming a part of the Hivos Food and Lifestyle Fund.
Keith is now working on impact investment in South Africa and Malawi and wishes for more investors to see the potential of companies in sub-Saharan Africa to give them a fair chance to expand to new markets. Traveling the world made him see many similarities between countries and their cultures even though they seemed so different at first. He realized that people no matter where in the world strive to achieve something.
“Covid has slowed things down but also showed new opportunities. It forced people to come up with innovative solutions and create new sources of income. It made people realize that they can’t just sit down and wait, and instead need to be creative and come up with new ideas of how to make it work. Many companies changed their business models and proved their entrepreneurial spirit during the pandemic which is great to see.”
If Keith learned one thing on his journey of creating impact it is that we should not be scared of the unknown. Making mistakes and leaving jobs and places you have outgrown will create new opportunities to make an impact yourself. “If no one is giving you a job, set up a company yourself. Do something, Change something, Achieve something!”.
In the future, Keith would love to see a truly equal partnership between Africa and Europe. He wants to find out ways that work for all parties involved and mold the perfect solutions for future challenges because investing should not only be about making money but making an impact! Wanna find out which projects Hivos Impact Investment will work on in the future? Make sure to check out their website! To learn more about other impact investors in The Hague, read our article on Ali Najafbagy, co-founder and Managing Partner of 4impac.