Adam Strauss, manager of the Appleseed Fund, says that sometimes an investment is driven by the social benefits, although it still has to make sense financially.
One such company where the fund has a significant stake in is the Female Health Company, which makes female condoms, which are a big part of the public health effort in Africa to reduce the transmission of AIDS. "Their business is basically to save people's lives by offering women an option which they control," says Strauss. "We just met with management last week and talked to them about one country where they're operating significantly--Zimbabwe."
In addition to rampant inflation, famine, and political instability, that African nation has been ravaged by AIDS. According to Strauss, average life expectancy has dropped from 61 years to 33 years, and one out of every five children is an orphan due to AIDS-related deaths.
"This is a country with 20 million people and last year they distributed 11 million female condoms," Strauss explains. "It's a great product and it has a huge impact because in a lot of cases, if the woman didn't have the female condom to use, there would be nothing used, because the male may not have made the choice to use a condom. It's a company that's making a huge impact, in our opinion."