Brian Cayce of Gray Ghost Ventures

Profile Summary:

  • Entrepreneur Name: Brian Cayce, Vice President, Investments
  • Venture Name: Gray Ghost Ventures (GGV)
  • Impact Focus Area(s): International Development, Technology, Financial Services
  • Business Stage (Ideation, Startup, Early, Later, Mature): Early
  • Year Venture Established: 2003
  • Business Type: For-Profit Investor (Impact Venture Fund)
  • Headquarters: Atlanta, GA

The Issue

Social entrepreneurship is about solving problems. Tell us about the challenge you are focused on addressing and why it is critical that we make progress.

Gray Ghost Ventures is a pioneer of the global impact investing movement and continues to be innovative in furthering its expansion. As one of the earliest private investors in microfinance, GGV seeks to eliminate poverty and strengthen communities through catalytic, early-stage investments in the developing world by focusing on enabling technology, financial services, and other products and services concentrated on enhancing the quality of life for large, underserved populations in emerging markets.

GGV’s Vice President of Investments, Brian Cayce, estimates that there were as few as two to three other firms in the country practicing what we now identify as impact investing in 2003. Gray Ghost now has over $125 million in several funds under its belt, but the team has maintained its focus and mission.

Your Journey

Entrepreneurship is a journey that requires connections and support from a wide array of stakeholders across the ecosystem to help successfully identify, start, and grow a social enterprise.

Brian’s background was uniquely suited for impact investing in developing countries — though not an investment professional at the time, he had served overseas in multiple capacities, as a Peace Corps volunteer (based in Turkmenistan), a non-profit employee, a business consultant, and a technology executive. He knew firsthand the challenges that entrepreneurs in emerging markets faced with getting their product funded and a company built to scale.

In the early 2000s, Brian was working for a private investor who wanted to move beyond helping entrepreneurs in emerging markets through microfinance, into a true equity play to invest in for-profits in those markets. Gray Ghost Ventures started in 2003 as one of the very first mission-driven tech investing firms — focusing on early-stage companies that improve the lives of underserved populations through tech.

GSIC and the Map

The mission of the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative (GSIC) is to accelerate the growth of impact investing in Georgia. Over the past 18 months, GSIC and its partners have engaged hundreds of investors, nonprofits, social entrepreneurs and others who care about scaling social impact through leveraging creative capital. The result of this work is the Map, an interactive resource designed to educate and connect stakeholders interested in impact investing. For more info, see www.GaSocialImpact.com and the Summary Report from phase 1 of the Map.

From your perspective, why do we need to develop Georgia’s Social Impact Ecosystem and how can the Map help with that?

“From our earliest days at Gray Ghost Ventures we were always intentional about building connections in the nascent impact investment industry.  It was our belief that our chances of success would be greater if others were involved and we were working collaboratively. While we were competitive with one another, there was such a small group of practitioners at that time that we all benefitted from the open collaboration and cooperation, as well.  

In many ways, the social impact scene in Georgia is in a similar state: it is young and enthusiastic and many of the participants know each other well and support each other.  However, impact investing grew to the scale of today through momentum over the years as new participants entered the space and there was an industry that was welcoming to them.  Georgia’s social impact scene could do the same, and that is why Georgia Social Impact Ecosystem Map is such an important tool for our community. Hopefully, the Map will serve as a landing spot which will allow social innovators and investors to connect, get familiar with the good work of one another, and find ways to build social value together.”

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