Grunin Center Releases Impact Investing Case Study—Launching the MicroBuild Fund, and Receives Expanded Grant from Omidyar Network to Support Development of Second Case Study

By: kelly Fliller March 4, 2020

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This publication was written by the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship at NYU School of Law.

New York City, NY. (February 25, 2020) – The Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship at NYU School of Law is delighted to announce the release of a first-of-its-kind impact investing case study: Launching the MicroBuild Fund. This case study, developed in partnership with the Social Innovation & Investment Initiative of the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, explores the legal, business and policy considerations that arose in the creation of the MicroBuild Fund ––a blended finance facility that was sponsored by Habitat for Humanity International to attract funding into housing microfinance on a global scale. 

The case study focuses on Habitat’s decision to sponsor the launch of its first impact investment fund, and the structuring and documentation issues Habitat confronted as it blended capital from a variety of actors. Secondary points of view include other significant, early investors in the MicroBuild Fund – including, in particular, Omidyar Network (equity from a private foundation) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC, now U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, DFC) (debt from the US Government’s development finance institution). The case study can be accessed on the Grunin Center’s learning platform here

“We launched the MicroBuild Fund in 2012 in response to the vast need for housing finance services to address the realities of the informal housing sector,” said Patrick Kelley, Vice President for the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter at Habitat for Humanity International. “After seven years, the MicroBuild Fund has enabled financial institutions across the globe to provide new housing financial products and services to low-income individuals and families, and is having a ripple effect on the market as others adopt the model. This MicroBuild Fund case study is an invaluable and novel tool for the field to learn more about this innovative financial product and how it is providing safe, decent and durable homes to millions.” 

The Grunin Center is also pleased to announce that Omidyar Network has expanded its grant to the Grunin Center to support the development of a second case study on the MicroBuild Fund, which will explore the unique challenges that arose in effectively securing legal services to support the structuring and launch of the MicroBuild Fund. Told from the point of view of deal counsel to the MicroBuild Fund, the case study will examine the nature, type, and fee arrangements of legal services used to structure and document an impact investment fund, as well as the legal, business and ethical considerations faced by deal counsel in determining how to structure, price and account for legal services. Through this effort, the Grunin Center aims to share critical learnings that may help incentivize the legal support and innovation needed to scale blended finance. 

“Too often when we think of the resources required to advance impact investing, we talk only of the financial capital necessary for these transactions,” said Deborah Burand, associate professor of clinical law and faculty co-director of the Grunin Center. “This case study examines another valuable, but 

sometimes overlooked, resource necessary for impact investing – intellectual capital. This case study looks at the intellectual capital contributed by the lawyers who helped to launch the MicroBuild Fund.” 

Once completed, the second case study will also become part of the learning platform being developed by the Grunin Center. This learning platform aims to help prepare a new generation of talented, committed, and globally oriented impact professionals by giving educators access to a range of teaching tools to support their efforts to embed themes of social entrepreneurship and impact investing into their course curricula. 

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