Crossroads International has a bold vision when it comes to institutional impact: it’s working toward a beautiful future — a world where poverty is eliminated, equality prevails and the rights of women and girls are fulfilled.
A tall order? Perhaps. But the impact the organization has had since its founding in 1958 by a group of Canadian volunteers is remarkable — from girls’ empowerment clubs that provide a safe space for survivors of violence to learn about their rights, to the development of opportunities in organic farming for former practitioners of female “cutting” who seek new ways of earning a living.
Working to improve the lives of people in some of the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Crossroads originally focused on building infrastructure like roads and schools. But today it works to focus its institutional impact on building capacity—partnering with local non-profit organizations to advance social justice.
In 2020, Crossroads helped to:
- Save 136 girls saved from genital mutilation in Tanzania
- Grow 87 girls’ empowerment clubs, 9 mixed clubs and 18 boys for change programs reaching more than 3,000 members in 5 countries and addressing issues ranging from child marriage to sexual abuse to female genital mutilation
- Provide 7,942 vulnerable people (6,035 women) with access to decent jobs or improved income sources, including working with women farmers to adapt to climate change
- Empower 4,528 people (76% women and girls) to assert their rights
But Crossroads doesn’t stop there. The organization, a Genus partner for the past 10 years, has also been creating impact throughout its investment portfolio.
Amplifying impact through socially conscious investing
When Crossroads first sought to add socially conscious investing to its portfolio, impact investing was still a nascent sector, but the organization knew it wanted to maximize its institutional impact. “Crossroads had the foresight to find a partner that’s aligned with our values,” says Heather Shapter, Crossroads’ Executive Director. “It’s an extension of our mission. We’re a small organization, so if we can do that with our supply chain partners, that multiplies the impact we can have.”
Shapter offers one key piece of advice when it comes to finding an investment manager that’s values-aligned. “Ask a lot of questions about measurement,” she says. “How do they measure the return? Genus does a great job — they filter out environmental impact and social impact. I want a guarantee that our investing is ethical—no arms, no child labour. And Genus can guarantee that the supply chain has none of that. We’re really proud of that. They’re great community champions.”
Investing in impact for the long-term is part of Crossroads’ DNA. And we’re proud to be their partner.