Watch the full interview on Your Mark on the World, here.

 

Open Road Alliance is perhaps unique in the philanthropic and impact investing world. The organization is a private philanthropic initiative that funds solutions to roadblocks in social projects.

Maya Winkelstein, executive director, and Caroline Bressan, director of social investments, explain that Open Road Alliance funds solutions to problems that pop up in otherwise fully-funded projects.

Given that almost every project involves unforeseen problems, learning more about Open Road Alliance seems like an important investment for nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs.

Interview with Maya Winkelstein, the Executive Director of Open Road Alliance.

The following is the pre-interview with Maya Winkelstein. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

We’ll be discussing gap financing for nonprofits and social enterprises.

Social organizations are the working poor of the business world. Their limited access to short-term working capital dilutes their potential impact, hindering their growth and long-term sustainability; with no safety net, one external shock can mean failure. Our loan fund, Open Road Ventures, is Open Road’s effort to start creating that safety net so that social enterprises have access to the resources they need to meet business and impact targets. with Maya Winkelstein.

How are you personally affected by Social organizations are the working poor of the business world. Their limited access to short-term working capital dilutes their potential impact, hindering their growth and long-term sustainability; with no safety net, one external shock can mean failure. Our loan fund, Open Road Ventures, is Open Road’s effort to start creating that safety net so that social enterprises have access to the resources they need to meet business and impact targets.

Words like “short-term working capital,” “below-market,” and “cash flow” may not feel consequential to the average person – but to a social entrepreneur, they can mean everything. Social entrepreneurs, just like profit-driven businesses, need access to financial tools to make their businesses work. However, unlike their counterparts, impact-driven businesses often lack access to traditional financing mechanisms. So why does this matter to you or me?

This issue matters because the problems that social entrepreneurs are working on are our problems. Whether its climate change, healthcare, education, or entrenched conflict, these entrepreneurs and their companies exist because we’ve decided that there are societal problems that need fixing and these organizations are doing the hard work to try and fix them. To make that decision and then fail to give them the adequate tools to implement their solutions affects us all. Every time one of these organizations is pushed off track – not because their intervention is flawed or their model is unsuccessful but because they don’t have access to a financial product that every other business does – we all lose in the long run.

What is your take on gap financing for nonprofits and social enterprises?

At Open Road, we believe that money is only a tool, never a solution. Capital has never solved a single social problem – and yet it is an indispensable tool to implementing solutions whether it’s an educational program for incarcerated youth or a clean energy company bringing solar power to rural farmers. But, it’s also not a one-size-fits-all tool.

At Open Road, we believe that the role of investors – especially impact investors – is to provide the financial tools that entrepreneurs need, and a critical tool that is in too short supply is short-term, bridge financing. So, that’s what we do.

Watch the full interview on Your Mark on the World, here.


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