In the late 2000s, the term “impact investing” began to gain traction in the world of finance. The strategy itself, however, was met with a degree of skepticism.
Among many investors, “it was unthinkable that investments could have both a financial return and a social return,” recalls Luca Torre ’06, co-founder and co-CEO of GAWA Capital, an impact advisory firm based in Madrid.
Today, however, GAWA Capital is proving those early critics wrong. The firm is an advisor to two funds — the GAWA Microfinance Fund and Global Financial Inclusion Fund — which support the growth of social enterprises in underserved or low-income markets in East Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia. The funds currently have more than €40 million assets under management and maintain an investment strategy that balances market-rate returns with positive social impact. GAWA is now one of Spain’s top impact investing firms.
Torre co-founded GAWA in 2009 with fellow Kellogg alumnus Agustín Vitórica Gutiérrez-Cortines ’99. Though they never crossed paths during business school, Torre and Gutiérrez-Cortines say that their shared Kellogg experience was foundational to building a strong business partnership.
“There is full trust and very little ego, so it is not really about me or about him — it's just about the project,” says Torre. “That's an important lesson Kellogg taught us: generosity in working with and supporting your classmates.”
For these co-CEOs, the overarching goal of GAWA is to leverage the power of markets to help millions of people “in different ways — by alleviating poverty, providing better health services and leveraging technology to improve agriculture,” Torre says.
For Torre, that’s satisfying on both a personal and professional level.
“My personal motivation has always been to try to leverage my business experience to do something that went beyond just making money,” he says. “It may sound naïve, but that is what has driven most of my career.”