Tara Murphy Forde’s job is to strengthen the impact of Global Partnerships’ investments in Latin America, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa.

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Meet Tara Murphy Forde, who works at Global Partnerships, a Seattle-based investor that makes loans and invests in social enterprises to empower people.

What do you do? I am the senior vice president of research and impact at Global Partnerships, an impact-first investor dedicated to expanding opportunity for people living in poverty. At GP we create and manage funds that make loans and early stage investments in social enterprises that serve people living in poverty throughout Latin America, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. In my role I lead GP’s efforts to define, measure and strengthen the impact of its investments.

How did you get started in that field? My career began in a startup social enterprise that worked with internally displaced families in Colombia. While most donor-funded efforts focused on short-term relief, our enterprise was designed to facilitate the socio-economic reintegration of IDPs through sustainable job creation. This experience was invaluable. It taught me that in addition to philanthropy, business can be a positive tool in addressing some of the world’s biggest challenges. That being said, it also showed me that for social enterprises to fulfill their promise, we need to change the traditional profit-maximizing mindsets of both business and finance.

Tara Murphy Forde, senior vice president of research and impact at Global Partnerships in Seattle (Courtesy of Tara Murphy Forde)
Tara Murphy Forde, senior vice president of research and impact at Global Partnerships in Seattle (Courtesy of Tara Murphy Forde)

What’s a typical day like? I often start my day with a 5:30 a.m. call with a Nairobi team member or a social enterprise partner in sub-Saharan Africa. My husband and I then get our kids up and off to school before we head into work.

My days are filled with meetings with colleagues and partners throughout the Americas. Whether tackling the challenges of poverty outreach and measurement, integrating gender into our investment strategy or designing mobile-based surveying tools to capture client data, I am constantly challenged and inspired by my talented and committed colleagues.

After work is school pickup, family dinner and preparation for the next day, followed by books and bedtime with my little ones.

What’s the best part of the job? By far the best part of my job is meeting with our social enterprise partners and their customers. During my tenure at GP, I have had the privilege of meeting the most resilient and resourceful people — from coffee farmers in Peru and Guatemala to female microentreprenuers in Kenya and Sierra Leone. Each time I meet with a client I am struck by their tenacity and am reminded of our common desire — to work hard and create a brighter future for the next generation.

What surprises people about what you do? People are often surprised to learn that impact investing exists. In our society the dominant message surrounding finance is binary — make as much money over here, act charitably over there. Impact investing is turning this paradigm on its head, showing us that there are ways we can create, rather than destroy value with our investments. With this, people are eager to learn more about how GP’s model promotes more sustainable and equitable ways of doing businesses.

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