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Resources created and curated to support the growth of impact investing, for those new to the field and for experienced practitioners.

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ImpactAssets 50: A Global Landscape of Impact Investment Fund Managers
The ImpactAssets 50 (IA 50) is the first open-source, publicly published database of experienced private debt and equity impact investment fund managers.

ImpactAssets 50

An Annual Showcase of Impact Investment Fund Managers

SEAF (Small Enterprise
Assistance Funds)

Total Assets Under Management: >$250MM
Asset Class: Private Debt - Absolute Return / Notes, Private Equity
Primary UN Sustainable Development Goal: 8 – Decent Work & Economic Growth
Clean Technology
Sustainable Agriculture
Small and Medium Business Development

Firm Overview

Category: Private Equity - Growth Stage (Emerging)

For thirty years, SEAF has been a leader in emerging/frontier market impact investing, providing growth capital and business assistance to more than 400 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in markets largely underserved by traditional sources of capital. Targeting Impact Through Entrepreneurs, SEAF's mission is to improve lives and communities through entrepreneur-focused investment. SEAF has managed or is managing 38 Funds and 14 Centers for Entrepreneurship and Executive Development (CEED) across more than 30 countries. SEAF has made over 400 impact investments and realized over 300 exits while achieving significant impact consistent with its mission. SEAF understands that it is vital to have a local presence for effective deal sourcing and vetting (networks, language, culture, context, etc.), which is why we have built strong offices with local teams. SEAF has an extensive track record of establishing local fund management capacity in emerging markets in Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

Firm Headquarters: US & Canada
Years of Operation: More than 10 years
Total Assets Under Management:
Total Number of Investors: More than 25
% of Capital from Top 3 Investors: Less than 25%
Investment Thesis:

SEAF's investment thesis is Impact Through Entrepreneurs, wherein SEAF provides growth capital and business assistance to SMEs in emerging markets, seeking targeted financial returns and social impact. As SMEs are often the backbones of local economies, successful investments can empower the entrepreneur, company, and employees, but also the broader community.

Investment Overview:

SEAF's investment thesis is to provide risk capital (equity, quasi-equity and venture debt) and business assistance to SMEs in emerging market to achieve targeted financial returns and social impact of each respective fund. Targeted financial returns (deal, portfolio, and net) are a function of investor preferences, deal instruments to be used, market conditions, etc. with targeted social and environmental impact being a function of the theme/sector focus of a given fund. Nevertheless, any targeted impact will contribute to SEAF's mission of improving lives and communities and be part of SEAF's theory of change for that theme or sector. 

Company Differentiator:

For thirty years, SEAF has been at the forefront of impact investing, bringing conventional investing practices to underserved emerging and frontier markets and providing entrepreneurs with the growth capital and business capacity building advisement needed to grow their businesses. Over that time, SEAF has grown into the industry leader, with more than twenty offices globally, spanning Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, the MENA region, and Latin America; an investment team with significant experience in financial, operational, and impact-focused development; and an operational framework that joins traditional private equity fund management practices with impact-oriented monitoring and evaluation work. It is this unique combination that allows to SEAF to offer its investors and investees with the confidence that their work with SEAF will be aligned with private equity industry standards and will provide the social and environmental focus necessary to generate the impact sought after by today's socially-minded investor.

Investment Example

In 2007, SEAF invested in Gomex, a Serbian supermarket chain operating in the northwest region of the country. At the time, the founder, a migrant to Serbia, had grown the business from a small distribution operation to 16 retail locations and 300 employees. However, he found that the country was largely underserved of quality, reliable options for food and household goods for local consumers. Through investment and assistance from SEAF (including operational growth development, strategic partnering, and workforce training), Gomex has now grown into a fast-growing retail chain with more than 150 stores and nearly 2,000 employees. This growth translates beyond business success – communities now have access to quality, healthy, and affordable grocery options; employment opportunities are available, particularly important for Serbia's youth and female population; and local suppliers have a trusted outlet purchasing their goods, creating a cycle of prosperity in the country.  

Leadership and Team

Cumulative Leadership Experience in Investing:
More than 30 years
Cumulative Impact Experience of Top Three Firm Leaders:
More than 30 years
Bert van der Vaart – CEO More Info

Bert van der Vaart is the Co-founder and CEO of SEAF, leading SEAF’s global operations, including fund launch efforts, and also serves as a member of SEAF’s Global Investment Committee. Bert co-founded SEAF in 1989, when it was known as the CARE Small Business Assistance Corporation (CARESBAC). In 1992, he negotiated the establishment of CARESBAC/SEAF’s first fund in Poland, which grew to $16.8 million total capital under management under his leadership as the fund’s Director General. While serving as Director-General of CARESBAC-Polska from 1994 until 1997, the company completed 27 SME investments and realized its first 6 exits. In 1997, Bert was appointed CEO and President of SEAF, where he has since been involved with the establishment and supervision of every SEAF fund. In 2008, he became Executive Chairman of SEAF’s Board of Directors and became associated with Discovery Global Citizens Fund, an international investment firm.

David Mathewson – President More Info

David Mathewson joined SEAF as President in 2016. David chairs SEAF’s Global Investment Committee and senior management team and supports the CEO in overseeing the strategic development and operations of SEAF. Prior to joining SEAF, David partnered with Delphos International to pursue opportunistic investments in emerging market private equity transactions and impact investment funds. From 2010 to 2015, David served as Senior Managing Director of Darby Private Equity/Franklin Templeton, with chief operating officer responsibilities for the financial, administration, ESG and business development aspects of Darby’s global private equity operations. From 2000 to 2009, he was Managing Director at Soros Fund Management LLC and an affiliate where he served as a founding member of the management team and Investment Committees of Southeast Europe Equity Fund I and II, two private equity growth capital funds for Southeast Europe and Turkey with combined capital of $520 million.

Bob Webster – Managing Director More Info

Bob Webster is Managing Director – Impact Investing Strategy at SEAF, based in Washington, D.C. and serves on SEAF’s Global Investment Committee. Bob’s role includes ensuring that impact is embedded in every SEAF process, supporting new fund raises and launches, offering thought leadership to the impact investing space, and designing and implementing technical assistance components of SEAF funds. Bob is also the manager of the SEAF Women’s Opportunity Fund. Bob has over 20 years of impact investing experience in emerging markets, including for two SME impact investing and risk capital fund managers, SEAF and the Grassroots Business Fund (GBF). He has also advised on impact investing and small business risk capital, advising on fund strategy and design, due diligence and structuring, capital and grant raises, and fund management.

Percentage of Investment Professionals who are Women and/or Under-Represented Groups in Firm's Geographic Focus:
25% – 50%
Percentage of Board Members who are Women and/or Under-Represented Groups in Firm's Geographic Focus:
Less than 25%

Financial Performance

Target Financial Returns Relative to Benchmark:
Near-market Rates
Actual Performance Relative to Target Financial Returns in the Past Three Years:
In line with initial target returns
Financial Reporting Frequency to Investors or Donors

Impact Performance

Percentage of Total Assets Under
Management that are Impact Investments:
Primary Impact Outcomes:
Creating jobs
Increasing access to education and improving educational outcomes
Increasing access to financial services
Increasing access to healthcare services and improving health
Increasing access to water and sanitation
Secondary Impact Outcomes:
Addressing climate change and environmental issues
Alleviating poverty
Value-added Services Offered:
Access to markets
Business and legal training
Technology training

Investments systematically target companies where social and/or environmental impact is integral to the product/service being created:

SEAF's due diligence process does allow for the targeting of companies where impact is implicit and central to the company's product or service. Through the sourcing of deals, the investment team seeks companies that meet the social criterion sought through a specific fund's investment thesis. While many of SEAF's investments are sector agnostic, some SEAF funds do seek specific impact themes. Once the team identifies such companies, an impact screen is completed to determine which metrics are appropriate to monitor and assess to determine the impact achieved through the investment. These are based on IRIS metrics and UN SDGs. The metrics are documented in the investment memo and are discussed with entrepreneurs prior to executing an investment.

Investments systematically include social and environmental sustainability practices in the due diligence process:

SEAF's policy, for all of the investment funds it manages, is to ensure to the best of its abilities that investments under consideration are environmentally and socially sound and sustainable. Every reasonably justified effort will be made during the pre-investment due diligence process to identify possible adverse environmental consequences associated with each potential investment and to take them into careful consideration in the investment decision. This is primarily achieved through the completion of a Social and Environmental Due Diligence screen prior to investment. The SEDD is completed by the local team and reviews the company's operations against IFC Performance Standards. Upon making an investment, SEAF's funds will continue, when appropriate, to monitor and mitigate the negative environmental effects of the Investee's ongoing operations.

Impact Tracking and Monitoring

Impact is Tracked:
Social and/or Environmental Impact is Reported to Investors and Donors:
Yes – to investors and donors
Third Party Validations:
Participant on steering committees or leadership roles within impact industry associations
Publisher or contributor to industry white paper or other research in impact investing

Learn More

Key Contact Name: Robert Vodicka
Phone: (202) 567-2499
Mailing Address:

1500 K Street NW, Suite 375, Washington, DC 20005

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Impact investments are investments made into organizations and funds that generate measurable social and environmental impact as well as financial returns.