LeapFrog backs emerging top talent

Profit-with-purpose investor LeapFrog has launched a new $1.5m accelerator to help grow top talent in businesses in emerging economies, as it continues to back financial inclusion for millions through one of the world’s most ambitious impact programmes. Julian Blake reports.

leapfrog logoInternational profit-with purpose investor LeapFrog, which backs ventures supporting more than 110,000 people and bringing financial inclusion to 111m more in Africa and Asia, has launched a new accelerator programme to grow the skills of top talent execs in emerging economies.

The new LeapFrog Talent Accelerator is backed with $1.5m in cornerstone investment by Prudential Financial, one of the world’s largest financial institutions.

LeapFrog was founded in 2007 by South African investor Andrew Kuper to be an “insurer to the poor”, with early vocal support from former US president Bill Clinton. Over the past decade it has It has had over $1bn in backing from the European Investment Bank, Troidos and Omidyar Network to deliver impact on a global scale.

Its investments include lead backing for London fintech scale-up World Remit in this month’s ¢40m series C funding round, which aims to take its remittance customers in emerging markets up to 10m.

A survey of chief executives of LeapFrog-backed firms found talent development to be their single biggest challenge, but that no in-market programmes existed to help. Research found that companies with strong leadership and talent management training increased revenues more than twice as fast, and profits one and a half times faster.

The 12-month accelerator combines formal classroom and technology-based learning, with mentoring, coaching, sponsorship and peer-to-peer learning between participating companies. C-suite execs and middle managers will benefit.

The first accelerator cohort, which convenes in Mumbai from January, brings together 70 people from LeapFrog-backed financial ventures in Africa and Asia, which together support livelihoods for 12,000 and reach 42.5m people.

Among the high-growth companies it supports are: IFMR Capital, offering credit and finance to 7.5m consumers in India; Magma Fincorp, reaching consumers across rural and semi-urban India with vehicle and housing finance and general insurance; Resolution Insurance, offering health insurance to Kenya; and UT Life, providing life insurance to emerging consumers in Ghana.

Prudential Financial senior vice president for diversity, inclusion and impact Lata Reddy said her company’s support for the programme was built on its founding principle of inclusive growth through financial services. “Through our support, we are helping to develop a cadre of transformative leaders that are delivering innovative solutions to consumers in Africa and Asia, ultimately creating opportunities for financial security for more people,” she said.

Andy-KuperLeapFrog’s twin goals from its foundation have been to help bring people out of poverty permanently, and at the same time open up new markets for business. “Profit with purpose finds a synergy not a trade-off between social and financial results,” Kuper (pictured) told a London launch of the accelerator last week. “It is overwhelmingly important to get the talent piece right. No matter how you look at the spreadsheets that impacts everything else.”

Social impact in emerging economies has been limited by the relatively small allocations of money by institutional investors overall, LeapFrog agreed last week. But it said the establishment of the UN of its sustainable development goals had been “very good for the whole impact area”, and that the focus on measuring impact had “really elevated the conversation”.

In an AgendaSetters interview earlier this year, Sam Duncan, LeapFrog’s London-based head of impact, said the UK had “one of the most forward-thinking markets in the development of this sector” – with the LeapFrog team keen to engage further with the UK social impact sector, including foundations, philanthropists and the private sector.