Success Stories

Terra Limpa
Terra Limpa won the 2016 Challenge with their proposed investment vehicle to finance commercial smallholder farmers in Angola by managing a vertically-integrated value chain that builds farmer equity in land over time. Terra Limpa plans to fund Angolan smallholder farmers, create jobs and generate income for farmers to use to incrementally build equity in the land.


Since winning the 2016 Challenge, Terra Limpa has gained significant traction and buy-in from various stakeholders. They travelled to Angola for a month to conduct further field research and continue conversations with government officials. Several key highlights of their trip include:


Field Research: They were awarded the Katz Global Fellowship to support their travel and research in Angola where they traveled over 1,500 miles by road and visited 8 provinces and 17 villages. While there, they met with the provincial governors, directors of agriculture, municipal heads and private individuals investing in agriculture to further understand the current agricultural investment landscape. They also met with village leaders, smallholder farming families and women market makers (intermediaries) to refine their hypotheses.


Landmine Removal: They met with The Halo Trust, the largest landmine removal and military explosive ordnance disposal NGO in Angola. They gained access to maps and information containing details about which provinces and municipalities have been cleared and considered “landmine free” and which still have uncleared minefields.


Recruited Team Member: They recruited a new Local Operations Manager, Domingos Camoso, who brings extensive knowledge of the land, experience in real estate development and relationships with municipal authorities.


Terra Limpa is in the process of raising funds and expects to start operations in 2017.


Blue Forest Conservation
Blue Forest Conservation won the 2015 Challenge with their proposed investment vehicle, subsequently named the Forest Resilience Bond, aimed at alleviating severe drought and wildfires in the Western U.S. while offering market-rate returns to investors. The bond leverages private capital to invest in forest restoration and employs pay-for-success contracts to monetize the resulting ecosystem benefits such as decreased wildfire risk, increased water volumes, and protection of water quality.


Since the competition, Blue Forest Conservation has secured grant funding from the Rockefeller, Packard, and Fink Foundations, led panel presentations at the Milken Institute Global Conference, SOCAP, and Gratitude Railroad, obtained pro-bono support from law firm Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe, engaged with state and federal government agencies, and cultivated relationships with a number of prominent academics in the fields of hydrology and fire modeling. To learn more, please visit and follow them on twitter @BlueForestConsv.


Greenprint Partners
Greenprint Partners (formerly known as Fresh Coast Capital) won the 2014 Challenge with their concept of helping post-industrial cities manage blight and increase their climate change resilience by planting hybrid poplar tree farms on vacant and contaminated land. Greenprint Partners is now a long-term green infrastructure delivery partner that helps cities achieve high-impact, community-driven stormwater solutions at scale. In addition to the name change, the company has raised over $700K in startup capital, secured a $1M USDA Conservation Innovation Grant to fund a green infrastructure pilot program in Peoria, IL, expanded their work beyond Peoria IL to Youngstown, OH and St. Louis, MO.

Their community-first commitment means that they co-design each project with residents to revitalize neighborhoods, increase public health and safety, and create new job opportunities. That’s how the team of project managers, community organizers, landscape architects, engineers, and finance professionals helps cities and landowners get the most good out of green infrastructure. Read more about the name change here and the company here.


UpSkill Capital
This team made it to the finals of the 2012 Challenge with their concept of making vocational (skills-based) education more accessible to low income young adults in India through a new funding mechanism. UpSkill Capital pays Vocational and Education (VET) program tuition upfront and is repaid by taking a percentage of the wages that students earn during an internship spanning the last six months of the training.  The repaid money is used to help finance another student, creating a sustainable cycle of education funding. To mitigate default and delinquency risks, interns are ‘temporary employees’ of UpSkill Capital and employers pay internship wages directly to UpSkill Capital. A pilot is running, with 1,000 students at ETASHA, an established VET program ( in Delhi through 2013. The company’s goal is to educate over 4 million students in the next 10 years.


In addition to participating in the finals of the Challenge, UpSkill Capital went on to raise over $25,000 through an Indiegogo campaign, and was one of 10 finalists at the 2013 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition. You can read more about UpSkill Capital here:


Effortless Energy (Formerly RMESA)

The team made it to the finals of the 2012 Challenge with their concept of mobilizing financing for residential energy efficiency improvements using an innovative application of managed energy services agreements (MESAs).  Since the competition, their concept has evolved to a Home Energy Efficiency Services Agreement (HESA), which uses the actual, realized energy savings of the homeowner to pay back investors.  To finance a HESA, Effortless Energy has created a novel fund structure called a Community Energy Efficiency Fund (CEEF) that allows investors to buy into the pooled returns from a collection of HESAs. The company is currently creating its first two CEEFs for homes in the greater Chicago area.  One of the CEEFs is being raised in partnership with LendSquare, a crowd-funded debt platform, making it the world’s first crowd-funded energy efficiency fund.


In addition to participating in the Challenge finals, Effortless Energy went on to join the inaugural class of Impact Engine, a 12 week accelerator program based in Chicago, and the company was one of 15 semi-finalists in MIT’s 2013 Clean Energy Prize. You can read more about Effortless Energy here:


Remarks at the Global Impact Economy Forum, April 26, 2012
By Secretary of State Hilary Clinton

In her remarks at the Global Impact Economy Forum on April 26, 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton talked about Kellogg and the International Impact Investing Challenge, as well as Sachpreet Chandhoke and the Grain Depot Fund.  The Grain Depot Fund is a good example, she said, of how we do not need to choose between “doing well and doing good”.   You can read the full text of Secretary Clinton’s remarks here: