Investing for Good and for Profit with AVG’s Social Impact Fund
As head of the new AVG Social Impact Fund, Gail Gilbert Ball will be looking for double bottom line returns. But that math has been part of Ball’s calculations for years, where she has balanced a career in financial services and dedication to social impact causes.
Ball will oversee the portfolio of 20–30 social impact venture investments for accredited investors. She already enjoys a major advantage in that endeavor: the ability to draw on the hundreds of deals sourced by other funds at Alumni Venture Group.
Looking at your career, it’s clear you have deep roots with leaders in finance.
Yes, I’ve been fortunate to serve as a C-level executive in financial services for a great deal of my life. From positions at The Bancorp Bank, PNC Bank, Chase and Capital One, to NCO Financial Systems and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, I’ve helped put money to work in a variety of markets.
More recently, I’ve headed Chestnut Street Ventures, an AVG fund for Penn alums to back the ventures of fellow alums. The business of money has truly been my passion since my college days at Wharton, where I graduated with a degree in Economics and majors in Finance and Statistics.
How have social impact initiatives figured into your background?
I’ve long been an advocate for financial innovation, financial inclusion, and workplace diversity. For nearly a decade, I served on the board of directors of Kompanion, Inc., a USAID/Mercy Corp-originated microfinance institution driving economic inclusion and food safety and security in Central Asia following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Kompanion grew to become the largest such economic enabler in the region.
In addition, for over a decade, I served as a national board member and officer of a 100,000-member social justice/civil rights volunteer organization that supported women with job training, community support resources, legislative advocacy, and access to education.
What do you think the AVG Social Impact Fund offers investors that similar funds might not?
One key difference: We leverage the tremendous deal flow from other actively managed funds under our parent company umbrella, Alumni Ventures Group. AVG has assembled a huge referral network of about 150,000 supporters, including relationships with many top VCs. Those connections have helped enable AVG funds to make nearly 200 investments to date—each vetted for top co-investor, opportunity, team, moats, and more.
Our Social Impact Fund draws from that pool of completed deals to create portfolios of 20–30 double bottom line investments. That means we’re only considering deals that have already been judged a good investment outside of any social impact considerations. Then we apply our own filter: Is the venture materially aligned with the targeted UN SDGs in our scope — investing in deals contributing to health and well-being (SDG #3), stewarding the environment—including clean energy(SDG# 6,7,11, 13,14,15)—or fostering sustainable cities and communities (SDG #11)?
What are you looking forward to with the Social Impact Fund?
The Social Impact Fund is a marvelous blend of all my interests: financial innovation, double bottom line investing, and venture capital. We’ll be working with cutting-edge businesses aimed at doing well by both investors and the world. I am especially energized by the opportunity to build a community of others with the same commitments and interests.
The AVG Social Impact Fund creates a portfolio of 20–30 diverse deals for investors seeking to back double bottom line ventures.