Rockefeller Aims to Alleviate Chronic Malnutrition with Micro-Levies

The Rockefeller Foundation’s Innovative Finance Initiative supports early-stage projects that rely heavily on collaboration between the public and private sectors. By supporting these projects, Rockefeller hopes to unlock additional private capital and attract enough money to narrow the estimated $2.5 trillion annual funding gap needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. If that funding shortfall isn’t closed, it's unlikely that those goals will be met in developing countries, much less the world.

That multi-trillion dollar SDG funding gap is one of the reasons that Rockefeller is focusing its program related and strategic investments in what it calls a “Zero Gap” portfolio. The focus here is to make investments in organizations that will lead to additional investments from institutional, household, and retail investors.

Right now, Rockefeller’s two main points of investment interest include new debt instruments to raise capital for environmental preservation and micro-levies to raise funds to combat childhood nutrition.

As always, the foundation is seeking innovative projects with the potential to scale while also demonstrating major impact. Such an investment recently went to the Innovative Finance Foundation’s UNITLIFE program.

Rockefeller’s $550,000 grant supports the creation and launch of UNITLIFE. This micro-levy-based initiative uses a small levy in extractive industries in Africa to combat chronic malnutrition. A number of African countries have already agreed to participate in the initiative, which, if successful, will provide a sustainable and steady stream of income toward continuous childhood chronic malnutrition relief.

According to Global Citizen, if the initiative is expanded to other African countries, a mere 10-cent levy could generate between $100 million and $200 million per year. Global Citizen also notes that if UNITLIFE were rolled out worldwide, it could potentially generate an estimated $1.64 billion annually.

The Rockefeller Foundation has supported impact investments for some time now, and in fact, the term "impact investing" was coined at its Bellagio Center. Since then, the foundation has developed the blueprint and infrastructure for the impact investing field, lending its support to outfits such as the Global Impact Investing Network, B Labs, and GIIRS.