Jasmine Social Investments is a charitable trust that is registered in New Zealand. It was set up by Sam Morgan and his family subsequent to the sale of TradeMe to Fairfax Media in 2006. The organisation aims to develop a portfolio of social organisations that offer high impact. It also endeavours to help those that have a high net worth to be able to give effectively.
Jasmine Social Investments was founded by Sam Morgan, a well-known entrepreneur in New Zealand who prior to Jasmine owned TradeMe. TradeMe was the largest online auction site in New Zealand. The organisation was envisaged to offer high impact philanthropy. Sam Morgan has spent the last few years investing in social enterprise in developing countries, funding ventures to improve the basic needs of the poor. In the following video, Sam explains why giving money away is actually quite hard, or at least giving it away so it achieves impact. He also talks about why ‘talent + model + momentum’ is important when it comes to investing in social ventures that deliver ‘impact measure’.
Sam Morgan is the founder of Jasmine Social Investments. He has a consultancy history and worked for Deloitte for a while. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up TradeMe in 1999. This company was the largest online auction site in New Zealand. In 2006 he sold TradeMe and personally received $227 million, not including any future bonuses. He became very rich very quickly as a result and wanted to reinvest some of the funds into philanthropy. He currently acts as an advisor, and also invests in a variety of start-up organisation. He additionally works with a few not for profit organisations. He became an Honorary Fellow of the New Zealand Computer Society in 2010.
The organisation’s implied mission is that it funds experienced entrepreneurs, developing scalable models to provide healthcare, education and improved livelihoods to the world’s most disadvantaged.
The organisation is aware that “there is no silver bullet to solving poverty”. Rather it aims to increase its own giving to the maximum possible level and to help other similarly minded individuals to be able to do the same.
Even though the organisation is based in New Zealand it supports entities that operate anywhere, provided that they meet the criteria for funding and can work with Jasmine Social Investments in the desired manner.
Many of the organisations funded and supported are found in the developing world, and particularly across Africa.
The area of focus for Jasmine Social Investments is social entrepreneurs. These are entrepreneurs that the entity considers are “private sector capable” but still choose to carry out social entrepreneurship activities rather than operating in the private sector. Jasmine Social Investments looks for entrepreneurs that have an ability to really deliver, and this means being able to demonstrate real impact – for example, the children that have been educated rather than the schools built. There is a focus on creating and developing long term relationships with the individuals that lead and manage the organisations that they fund. In particular, Jasmine Social Investments focuses on transparency and openness and expects the organisations funded to communicate with them in a frank manner. Reporting is expected to be both quantitative and qualitative.
When selecting beneficiaries of funding, Jasmine Social Investments looks for a number of criteria. They seek outstanding social entrepreneurs, a compelling model that can solve a big problem in a manner that is both cost-effective and scalable, and the ability to measure true impact. Social entrepreneurs are those that are committed to improving the situation of those in poverty but have ideas to do so with all of the energy that might be seen in a commercial venture that aims for high growth.
In addition to its support of social entrepreneurs, Jasmine Social Investments focuses on actively sharing its learnings with other individuals and foundations that have a high net worth and that also have a similar approach. This enables both organisations to invest together in some projects and in certain circumstances.
Jasmine Social Investments offers equity investments to some organisations and unrestricted grants to other entities.
Jasmine Social Investments has supported a lot of organisations since it was founded. One interesting project example is that of Living Goods. Living Goods was also founded in 2006 with a mission to empower people in need to improve the health and wealth of their families, communities and countries. This organisation operates in Uganda and Kenya. It has set up a model whereby female entrepreneurs visit people in their homes by going between doors to help others in the community to improve their health and wealth. The ladies are somewhat like Avon ladies and they sell products such as basic malaria treatments, solar lighting and foods that are fortified with nutrients. The organisation has had a significant impact on child disease rates and mortality and hopes to increase the health and wealth of more than 50 million people by 2025. The organisation has received $1.6 million US dollars in unrestricted grants to date from Jasmine.
Bridge International Academies is another project that Jasmine Social Investments has supported. It was founded in 2008 by three social entrepreneurs, Jay Kimmelman, Shannon May and Phil Frei. The organisation seeks to “provide every child with a chance to have a high-quality primary education, regardless of their family’s income. The organisation currently works in Kenya but has plans to operate in at least 12 countries and to teach 10 million children in the future. The way it works is that the organisation offers an Academy in a Box, providing basic education for $5 per month, as an average. So far Bridge International Academies has delivered 303 academies and has more than 95,000 pupils and 4,055 staff. It is particularly focused on core reading, fluency and comprehension, as well as mathematics for children. Up until the current point, Jasmine Social Investments has put $700,000 of equity investment into Bridge International Academies.