Entrepreneurs for Impact podcast

#153: Investing a $1.7B Fund for System-Positive Sustainability Companies — Lila Preston, Head of Generation Growth Equity

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My guest today is Lila Preston, Head of Generation Growth Equity.

Generation Growth Equity is a part of the larger Generation Investment Management, an investment management firm founded in 2004 by former US Vice President Al Gore and Goldman Sachs' Asset Management head David Blood, with a focus on sustainable investment options. They now manage about $40B.

Generation Growth Equity invests globally in growth-stage, private companies with proven technology and commercial traction, run by talented, mission-driven management teams.

They take active minority positions in companies that are driving broad-based, system-positive change. They’re now investing out of their fourth fund, a $1.7B vehicle.

Lila joined Generation in 2004. Previously, she was a director of finance and development at VolunteerMatch in San Francisco and was also a Fulbright Fellow in Southern Chile. She received a BA in English and Latin American Studies from Stanford University and an MBA from London Business School.

She serves on the board of Nature’s Fynd and as a board observer for CiBO Technologies, Optoro, and Pivot Bio. She is also on the Board of Advisors at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.

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🎙️ In this episode, we talked about:

What she means by “system positive” as a filter for their investments. Why sustainability is at the core of their strategy and boosting investor returns. Which risks they’re willing to take – i.e., no tech risk, no product-market fit risk. 

How they develop the conviction to invest $50M to $150M per company. The breadth of their sustainability research and what parts of that they share out to the world. The need to “stay in your lane” when investing and let others do the same.

Example investments such as M-KOPA which started out as an energy access play and grew into a financing vehicle to improve households in Africa in new ways. The massive opportunities for biology to replace chemistry – e.g., with their Pivot Bio investment. 

The biggest challenges that CEOs in their portfolios face. The role of life cycle assessments to assess net impacts, positive and negative. The distinction between being proactive and reactive in investment and career development more broadly. What her Fullbright work in Chile taught her.

And lots more!

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