The Challenge

We believe impact organisations are creating new forms of most needed economic development and they should therefore be supported financially and non-financially by government/community and philanthropists who want co-invest in this movement. Therefore, we encorage a blended finance ecosystem strategy as a safe and strong way to make change happen.

In this sence we recognise that there is a lack of resources and management coordination in the impact ecosystem in Portugal due to the following elements:

  1. Absence of instruments for funding/risk sharing based on methodologies for analysing non-ROE return;
  2. Strong reliance on subsidies with limited funding for growth and for raising the level of economic/financial autonomy;
  3. Need for social innovation projects to adapt to grant making mechanishm, often foregoing their disruptive characteristics, even jeopardising their economic and financial sustainabilit
  4. High number of projects that fail due to lack of skills specific to areas such as management, strategy, marketing, communication, market positioning;
  5. Lack of financing mechanisms with an ecosystem and/or value chain perspective and focused on systemic change.

Moving towards systemic change is in our eyes a natural solution to respond to the real needs of the impact ecosystem in Portugal which is fertile with several entities (public and private) working for a more resilient sector.

The Practice

Our role in the ecosystem is to contribute to the improvement of financial resilience of social organisations, supporting them on the process of reaching financial independence so that they can focus more on impact than fundraising.

Together with several players in the region we are co-creating a EUR 20M blended finance Impact Innovation Fund seeking long-term positive systemic impact solutions.

Blended financing mitigates risk for investors leveraging grants and other public or private investment instruments, optimises the investees’ road map and puts them at the forefront of the development of systemic impact in Portugal, while contributing to the overall European objectives. Furthermore, impact projects are creating new forms of most needed economic development and they should therefore be supported financially by government/community and philanthropists who want to co-invest in this movement.

This Fund will invest in two different types of impact projects: either in late-stage organisations based or operating in Portugal who are entering a growth and internationalisation stage (Leverage Impact), or in Portuguese startups whose business cases are truly impact driven (Growth Impact). In practical terms, we intend to leverage local solutions with a global impact, through financial inclusion, delivering resources (financial and non-financial) and adequate management skills to impact organisations to promote systemic change.


The mission of the Impact Innovation Fund, is to improve access to, and use of, responsible financial and non-financial services and instruments for impact organisations working towards a definitive and systemic change in Portugal.

Results / Insights /Advice to Peers

As the Impact Innovation Fund has just staterted and is still in the fund raising stage process, we therefore have no results yet. Nevertheless, we expect the following results:

  1. Promote the articulation of mixed investment and business strategies in order to encourage investees to develop financially viable strategies and become financially independent in the long term;
  2. Encorage government, foundations and other donors capital to co-investment and to contribute to professionalisation of invested organisations and amenizing the one-to-one relationship efforts of foundations, brands and local support offices (GAL) with a network of collective collaboration, an increased potential for learning and impact orientation for all.

The phase of jointly establishing the Impact Fund with other national impact players went smoothly. We are now in a fundraising phase which is more challenging in a Portuguese context as the (blended finance) impact culture is not properly developed yet neither in the philanthropic nor in the private sector. As we are still launching our Impact Fund, the big challenges are yet to come, but as senior entrepreneurs in the impact world, we would like to give the following pieces of advice to our impact peers:

  • Be true believers of/ in this Impact ecosystem because, sooner or later, change will happen.
  • Spread the word. Every single day.
  • People, companies, organisations, public entities.

Further Resources


Bárbara Leão de Carvalho
Impact Investments Manager @ Grosvenor