Ben Powell '05

Ben Powell '05

Founder and CEO, Agora Partnerships

http://agorapartnerships.org/

It was in a Columbia Business School class that Ben Powell '05 wrote the business plan for Agora Partnerships, an organization that provides entrepreneurs who are intentionally building businesses that solve social and environmental challenges in Latin America with the resources they need to grow. These entrepreneurs are accelerating the shift to a more sustainable economy by building innovative business models that create impact ranging from the last-mile distribution of solar lights in Central America to access to formal financing for the unbanked in Colombia to waterless toilets in Peru.

By targeting businesses in the missing middle — businesses too large for microfinance but too small to attract traditional growth capital sources — Agora works to fill a gap in financing and makes a definitive, positive impact on local economies. The organization has consulted more than 589 companies since it's founding in 2005, and helped more than 80 of these companies raise $17.3 million in investment. Agora has also played a founding role in the impact investing and entrepreneurship industry, including helping to co-found ANDE, launching the first Latin American ANDE conference, prototyping the first GIIRS methodology, and launching the first early-stage impact investing fund in Latin America.

Before founding Agora, Powell co-founded CityGolf Puebla, a miniature golf course and family recreation center in Puebla, Mexico. Powell has worked as a Presidential Management Fellow at the Office of Management and Budget, was named a Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Entrepreneur, a BMW Foundation Young Leader, and an Ashoka Fellow. He was a Social Venture Network Innovation Award honoree in 2009 and named one of 2010’s top 40 under 40 development leaders in Washington, DC. He earned an MBA from Columbia Business School, where he was awarded the inaugural alumni social innovation award, and an MSFS with distinction from Georgetown University. Ben has a BA with high honors from Haverford College, where he co-founded Tres Nacos Quesadillas Delivery and the Lighted Fools improv troupe. A native of Cambridge, Mass., Ben lives in Washington, DC with his wife and three children.

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