Agustín Vitórica '99
Founder and Co-CEO, Ambers&Co Capital Microfinanzas
Luca and I are founders and co-CEOs of Ambers&Co Capital Microfinanzas, a Madrid-based impact investment fund advisory and management company. Our mission is to promote social and economic development in developing countries by leveraging private capital. We co-manage a $30 million fund, investing in microfinance institutions and other companies that promote financial inclusion.
Microfinance is microcredit given to poor people in order to run sustainable micro-enterprises and improve their livelihoods. We partnered with Ambers&Co, an independent financial advisory firm based in Spain. They were looking to set up a new part of the business dedicated to investment, but they didn't want to do a venture capital or private equity fund.
So we proposed an asset management company that could produce not only financial returns but also social good. They supported our initiative and helped in fundraising — because, in this business, the toughest thing is fundraising. They also helped us assemble a strong board of directors made up of very important names in Spain's financial world who backed what we were doing and demonstrated that our initiative was solid.
Our company is focused on the bottom of the pyramid: the people in the world with the lowest incomes. We have several projects in developing regions, including Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. One of our largest areas of focus is on poor farmers, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The farmers there are really suffering now due to drought and high food prices.
We carry out all the due diligence and research ourselves, identifying territories that are more or less stable, then visiting them and investigating the institutions we invest in to make sure they are doing what they say they're doing. We speak with the beneficiaries to see what's really happening and if the institution is behaving well. I don't think this is a business you can carry on from your base country in the first world. You really have to go there and familiarize yourself with the way things work in order to understand these countries properly.
The good thing about impact investing is that the money, if set up properly, goes directly to the beneficiaries. All the incentives of capitalism work in the sense that the beneficiaries are pressed to work hard in order to sustain themselves out of poverty by learning how to do things, not just receive a donation every day. Kellogg taught me to push boundaries. I want to use that education and my business experience to do something that has an impact in the world.