Name: Rachel Yang
Role & Organisation: Partner, Giant Leap
What was your first job?
I had a couple of jobs whilst at school so I’m struggling to remember which came first! I worked with mum in the noodle bar, and, I was a tester for a maths game being developed when very basic computers were just starting to become more accessible.
When did you know you wanted to work in finance/business?
I actually wanted to be a doctor growing up, as I wanted to help people and thought it was really the only option to do so! I then did work experience with a surgeon and decided it wasn’t really for me (didn’t quite have the constitution), so I started exploring the business world and forging a pathway towards management consulting.
When did you first discover the concept of Impact Investing?
In 2007, I was backpacking around Europe and found myself in the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo where I came across the work of Muhammad Yunus and the concept of microfinance. It was a revelation that you could use business to create social change.
I later learnt about the world’s first social impact bond (the Peterborough Social Impact Bond in the UK to reduce reoffending) and I was convinced that impact investing was the most effective way to have a large scale, sustainable positive impact.
What’s one exciting development you and your team have in the pipeline?
Our immediate focus is on setting up our new entity for long term success, following our recent spin out from Impact Investment Group, and continuing to invest from the fund.
We have plans to raise a new fund down the track off the back of Fund I’s performance to date (performing alongside top quartile VCs of its vintage).
We are, however, seeing encouraging signs from the market to launch sooner rather than later. This is because more and more investors are wanting to invest in impact products so that they can align their investment activities with their values.
Crucially, there is also growing evidence of the returns impact investments can deliver. Kapor Capital, one of the world’s most active early stage impact investors, has achieved portfolio returns of 3.0x over the past 8 years, far outperforming top quartile VC returns of their vintage of 1.86x.
What was the most interesting impact deal (from any team across Australia) in the past 12 months?
Goterra, a startup providing a circular solution to waste management using robotic technology to breed maggots to consume food waste, then converting the maggots into sustainable protein and fertiliser, raised $8 million in capital. The round was led by agricultural technology venture capital fund Tenacious Ventures and Grok Ventures, and included investment from Giant Leap.
Name one high impact company (globally) that investors should keep their eye on?
There are so many, it’s hard to pick one! Mindset Health is a super interesting one as it creates mobile hypnotherapy programs that help people manage and improve their health, without drugs or diets. Their flagship product Nerva focuses on helping people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and through clinical studies, has been found to have the same results as the FODMAP diet without changing what you eat, demonstrating the power of the mind.
And if I can sneak in one more, given the ongoing discussions around the importance of diversity in the workplace, WORK180, which is a jobs platform that flips the traditional model on its head by pre-screening employers before they can list to ensure their workplace policies (such as parental leave) support women in their careers. WORK180 has been transformative at attracting women into male dominated industries by pushing companies to change their policies to become more inclusive.
What’s your vision for impact investing in 5 years time?
Hopefully impact investing increasingly becomes the mainstream way to invest, and investing without an impact lens becomes niche. Within 5 years, there should be even more evidence of impact investments outperforming traditional investments to further build the business case for impact investing, so it’s very clear that it’s a no-brainer.