Impact Report: How to Transform the Social and Environmental into a Finance Driving-Force
The first impact report of the Menomadin Foundation is a roadmap for a business culture that gives back to society. What is strategic philanthropy? How to manage impact investments? How can finance be harnessed to preserve the environment and empower social resilience? You will find answers to these and other questions in Menomadin’s impact report that elaborates on how to lead result-oriented activity in Israel, Africa, and worldwide.
The vividness and versatility are first to grab the eye when browsing through Menomadin Impact Report: From the staff of professionals from Angola and Israel, Arab, Jews, and Christians, all experts in their fields; through the range of Menomadin’s domains—society, culture and arts, welfare, health, academia, environmental technology, and more; to its cross-sector partnerships with companies from the private sector, academic and governmental institutions, and NGOs.
Menomadin Foundation is a young international impact fund based in Israel and operating all around the world. The foundation has recently issued a comprehensive and detailed impact report that covers its activity from its inception in 2019 to December 2021. It would be difficult to try and depict the entirety of the foundation’s activity with a single term, given its incredible versatility. The types of activities that Menomadin is involved in range from social initiatives to technology investments and national- and global-scope ventures.
Menomadin divides its activity into three spheres of influence: strategic philanthropy, impact investments in startups, and flagship private-civil ventures based on cross-sector collaborations. Its stated modus operandi is investing in social initiatives that produce social and environmental impact backed up by investment in startups. More specifically, these investments yield a social and environmental impact, in addition to a financial profit that enables the whole operation continuity for the long run and future expansion and duplication.
While its spheres of action are versatile, the report unveils Menomadin’s vision and action plans as meticulously defined, data-oriented, and based on continuous data collection and methodic evaluation. A vast section in the reported overture presents Menomadin’s underlying Impact Management Methodology, a combination of well-established methods of data collecting and impact measurements that include change theory, SDG’s and +IRIS indicators, and the IMP’s five indexes, fine-tuned by Menomadin. With admirable transparency, the foundation explains the process in detail, revealing its commitment to data collecting, in-depth research, and a bold analysis followed by a multi-year process of precision and constant performance improvement. Menomadin believes that this approach, borrowed from the business arena, ensures delivery of the desired results for social and environmental impact and for financial gain. In the report, the foundation presents a uniform method for quantitative measurement to gauge the actual results and impact of each of its enterprises, in its three spheres of activity individually and in comparison to one another.
Before we delve into the facts and figures, let’s go back for a moment to the quote on the report’s cover by Menomadin’s Founder and President, Haim Taib, which encapsulates the essence of Menomadin’s inspiration: “The greatest challenge of humanity is ensuring that people never lose the ability to dream a better life for themselves.”
A Culture of Strategic Giving and Impact
When it comes to strategic philanthropy, Menomadin believes in identifying the main social challenges—using the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as their northern star—and either crafting a precise solution that tackles the root of the matter, or partnering with organizations already practicing such response and working together to empower its social and environmental impact. Menomadin operates in this manner in its academic-social initiatives such as the Israeli Congress and Menomadin Center for Jewish and Democratic Law with Bar-Ilan University. The same holds true for its many initiatives in Africa, where the focus is on local art and culture, educational programs for at-risk children and youth and women vocational training; and again in Menomadin’s ever-growing international partnership of business network through which it strives to confer a culture of philanthropy and impact.
Of the many impressive initiatives presented broadly in the report, one example of Menomadin’s strategic philanthropy is well worth mentioning: a leadership incubator named Star Accelerator, which intends to establish young Bedouin cross-tribe leadership in Israel. The foundation identified the lack of leadership as the root of many challenges that the Bedouin society deals with—the tension between tradition and rapid modernization processes, poverty, high crime rates, low education level, and more—and made it its targeted strategic opportunity. Menomadin partnered with the Desert Stars Association, which operates enrichment programs for promising young Bedouins, to create the Star Accelerator’s one-year-long holistic and personal training program that provides them with professional internships, academic tutoring, practical tools, and many knowledge, experience, and encounters to form them into change-makers and to integrate them into the public service system and influential positions in education, welfare, business, law, and more.
The initiative highlights Menomadin’s approach, according to which an empowered individual is an empowered community, and, in this case, empowering Bedouins and the Bedouin community will benefit the entirety of Israeli society. With the conclusion of Stars Accelerator’s fourth class, 29 young Bedouins successfully completed the program, and data continues to accumulate: Four graduates (25%) were admitted to the Cadet Program for Local Government—the only Bedouins in this program; one graduate is an intern in the Be’er-Sheva district court; 89% of the graduates felt that the program advanced them toward their goals, and about 75% reported improvement in their networking ability and leadership skills, increased self-confidence, determination, perseverance, emotional balance, and self-expression. For more data and the Menomadin Impact Score, see the slide below from the report itself.
Having a systematic measurement enables lesson learning: some graduates reported feeling overwhelmed with the load and struggled with integrating the entirety of their studies, work, and program commitments. To address this feedback, Menomadin added a personal advancing program tailored specifically to each participant’s needs, making it effectual, time-efficient, and preventing dropout. Furthermore, to realize one of the initiative’s paramount goals of creating the intended quality cross-tribal group that leads the way for the Bedouin society at large, an alumnus group has been established. It will foster the continuity of personal and professional guidance and the strengthening of the connections between the graduates themselves. Monitoring and measurement allow Menomadin to emphasize on scaling up the number of participants in future classes—an important goal when talking about complex social change.
Impact Investments—A Driving Financial Force
In the realm of impact investments, Menomadin focuses on innovations that aim to bring about an extensive social and environmental impact. The decision to focus on planetary and human health is paired with the vast proven experience and capabilities of Menomadin’s sister company, Mitrelli Group, which establishes expansive infrastructure projects throughout the African continent, leveraged into the detection of startups in their initial growth stages in the fields of climate, agriculture, health, energy, education, and water. It also translated into the acceleration of implementation and distribution of these startups technological solutions across Menomadin’s many partners in the business field, academia, and among decision-makers in Israel, Africa and worldwide. Alongside direct investment in technology, Menomadin works to enhance the impact economy through the blended financing approach. Moreover, thanks to its connections with leading players in this field, the foundation can reach new capital sources and duplicate the solutions and impact, extending them worldly.
SupPlant is an example of an agro-tech startup that Menomadin chose to invest in due to its artificial intelligence-based solution for one of humanity’s pressing challenges: how to increase agriculture yields in climate instability while minimizing the consumption of water, a scarce resource in many parts of the world. SupPlant put sensors in the soil and on 32 crop types in 500k agriculture farms in 13 climate zones (in fact, in all continents besides Antarctica). During 2,000 cumulative growing seasons, SupPlant collected data to the cloud: the moister of the soil; trunk, brunches, and fruit metrics; temperature and meteorological-climatic data. Sophisticated algorithms analyze the data and provide a real-time irrigation plan tailored to the plant’s needs. Based on this massive database collected from high and medium incomes countries, SupPlant also developed a smart irrigation application that provides weather forecasts, extreme weather warnings, and economical irrigation plans adapted to the type of yield and soil and specific to location, without any sensors on site. The application is available to farmers in developing countries, where the impact on food security, water conservation, and moving toward poverty eradication is high.
SupPlant set out to save an average of 30% in water consumption, raise crop production by an average of 15–20%, and, thanks to the sensor-less system, reach 450 million small farmer users worldwide, thus contributing to food security and financial growth. By the end of 2022, millions of small farmers have already used the system in Africa and India. The impact data are available in the slide below.
Immense Challenges Call for Resource Pooling
National and global social and environmental challenges in the 21st century are more complex than ever. Meeting them requires massive sources of money, mastery, and entrepreneurship. Cross-sector partnerships are Menomadin’s way to raise the imperative resources to build the necessarily sustainable solutions to such challenges. Such a shared-purpose coalition stands behind Menomadin’s flagship national initiative named The Right to Good Welfare, and its partners are the Israel Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs, the Haruv Institute, and a research group from the School of Social Work of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
In this venture, Menomadin initiated in-depth work with the senior academic professors, field experts, and governmental officials to formulate a comprehensive and detailed strategic roadmap to propel long-term reform in Israel’s welfare services and to revolutionize the country’s welfare system. After a two-year-long process, Menomadin presented the Israeli government with an 11-part program of the national welfare system’s primary challenges and recommendations—from budget increasing to legislative changes—for each of them, including poverty, outsourcing, governance and regulation, employment, and sensitive populations.
The plan, which has already received the blessing of the Israeli Minister of Welfare and Social Services Meir Cohen, is threatened by governance exchange; in Israel, where no less than five elections took place over the recent four years, this is a substantial risk. Nevertheless, Menomadin expects that the reform’s gravity would make it sustainable even in a case of a ministerial exchange. Moreover, this cross-sector shared-purpose coalition, in which Menomadin serves as an honest broker and the leader of a strategic national-scope plan, is an existing resource, which is already being duplicated to formulate a similar reform in the Israeli education system, precisely the impact duplication that the foundation strives to reach and that we expect to read about in Menomadin’s second impact report.