Kurt Hoffman is an industrial economist by training, and by inclination a serial (private and social) entrepreneur and intrapreneur, with a track record of launching and scaling pro-poor business ventures including small enterprise investment funds in emerging economies, commercial start-ups based in emerging economies and the UK, institution building and leading change processes within institutions, securing strategic alliances and delivering results within the private sector, international public and civil society sectors. He has 30 years experience in a unique variety of positions:
• As Managing Director of Lion’s Head Global Partners (no. OC338440 authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Services Authority). LHGP is a boutique investment banking and advisory firm specialising in creating sustainable value through facilitating commercial investments in businesses, bank financing programs and innovative investment vehicles that deliver market based solutions to poverty and environmental challenges. The firm provides strategic advice, fund structuring and management and capital raising services. The firm has an interest and focus on all routes to promoting sustainable and equitable economic advance in emerging market economies, but particular expertise in three areas: Health, SMEs and Forestry/Agriculture. (Since March 2009)
• For The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, as Director and architect of TransFarm Africa – a pathbeaking public-private partnership designed to channel international and local finance and technical assistance towards catalysing the commercial, sustainable and equitable transformation of small scale agriculture in Africa. TransFarm Africa will feature a $50 million commercial investment fund (the TFA Fund) specialising in investing in transformational agricultural businesses in east and southern Africa that contribute to the equitable modernization of the small farmer segment in sub-Saharan Africa and a policy advocacy program called TFA Removing the Barriers designed to spread best practice agricultural development and investment policy across the region. (Since October 2008.)
• (until October 2008), for Shell Foundation, as architect and Director of this innovative, influential corporate foundation pioneering new approaches to strategic philanthropy and corporate social responsibility and dedicated to advancing scalable, sustainable and market-based solutions to major global social problems via innovative financing and policy change mechanisms and results oriented, public-private partnerships. By the time, Kurt stepped down as Director, the Foundation had invested $40 million of its resources to develop four social investment platforms delivering pro-poor and pro environment market based solution in emerging economies. Collectively these platforms had channelled or catalysed investments by others totalling approximately $1.2 billion, including the Grofin Africa Fund now capitalised at $250 million, targeting African SMEs needing between $100,000 and $1 million in finance, with 200+ transactions completed and offices in 7 countries.
• as a social innovator responsible for designing, securing financing and launching a path-breaking fund-raising and public engagement initiative linked to the environmental challenges faced by the international airline industry.
• as chairman, board member and senior adviser to international corporations, government agencies; multilateral and bilateral development institutions; private foundations, NGOs and public-private partnerships.
• as an entrepreneur behind two commercial start-up companies funded by venture capital in the retail and IT services industry; and as Board Chairman responsible for turning around and profitably disposing through a trade sale of one of the oldest, family-owned building products firms in the UK.
• as a senior academic in a university-based policy research institute – the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex - with an outstanding international reputation where in addition to a full research/policy advisory output in the realm of improving the productivity and international competitiveness of the industrial sector in emerging economies, Kurt was responsible for fund-raising, graduate teaching/ supervision and management of a team of 8 professionals whilst also producing numerous peer-reviewed academic articles, published books and research reports.
Areas of specific issue/sectoral expertise includes small business start-up and finance, taking initiatives to scale, turning non-profits into profitable social businesses, developing sustainable supply chains, innovation, community relations, stakeholder engagement, corporate social opportunity, public-private partnerships, agriculture, finance, climate change, energy access, clean technology, energy efficiency, retail, IT services, motor vehicles, airlines, clothing & textiles.
Areas of institutional functional experience include institutional design, design and implementation of new programme and change initiatives in the public and private sector; maintenance of Board relationships; team building/management across diverse settings; introduction of governance systems and culture, business controls, issue/risk management, quality assurance and performance measurement in businesses, charitable foundations and NGOs; building strategic external alliances and effective public/private partnerships; delivering key messages via public communication and robust debate; project development and management, and provision of intellectual leadership and vision in a business, academic and NGO setting.
Geographic scope of experience. In addition to growing up in the US and living and working in the United Kingdom and Europe for 30 years, Kurt has carried out or overseen major projects in the US, UK, France, Brazil, Thailand, Mexico, South Korea, Cyprus, Jordan, India, China, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, South Africa, Liberia, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Venezuela.
Professional Appointments. Kurt was made a Fellow of the UK Royal Society of Arts in 2004 and currently holds a Visiting Professorship at the Centre for Innovation Management, University of Sussex, Brighton