How Venture Capital Firms Specialising in Sustainable Scaling Evaluate Growth Potential

Venture capital firms specialising in sustainable scaling are transforming the investment landscape in South Africa. Unlike their traditional competitors, these firms look for enterprises that not only provide strong financial returns but also prioritise social and environmental impact. So, how do they impact investors evaluate a company’s growth prospects? It’s a sophisticated procedure that goes much beyond simple number crunching.

Sustainable scaling is more than simply financial expansion; it is about establishing a triple bottom line that includes people, the environment, and profit. These firms understand that impact-driven enterprises have a broader set of values and aims. This implies they look at development possibilities from a variety of perspectives, taking into account things other than typical financial indicators.

One of the most important factors is how businesses measures and manages its influence. Investors look for companies that have a clearly articulated impact thesis – a compelling story about how their products, services, or activities cause positive social or environmental change. However, a good thesis is not enough. Impact-focused venture capitalists want to see sophisticated measurement systems in place, which use applicable metrics and frameworks to track and quantify the real-world effects of a company’s actions. They also look for a proactive approach to impact management, including defined goals, regular progress tracking, and a readiness to change techniques to maximise positive effects.

The Triple Bottom Line: Beyond Financial Metrics.

Venture capital firms specialising in sustainable scaling recognise that impact-driven enterprises prioritise the “triple bottom line“: people, planet, and profit. This means that financial measurements alone do not provide the full picture.

Key Factors in Growth Potential Assessment

Here are some important elements that venture capital firms that specialise in sustainable scaling consider:

1. Impact Assessment and Management

Firms search for organisations with a well-defined impact thesis that is consistent with their own values and investment strategy. This thesis should explain how the company intends to promote beneficial social or environmental change.

Robust impact measurement: Businesses should have a system in place to track and measure their impact, including suitable measurements and frameworks. This allows them to demonstrate the effectiveness of their impact activities while also identifying areas for improvement.

Active impact management: The best businesses actively manage their impact by setting goals, tracking progress, and adjusting their strategy as needed. This displays a dedication to ongoing improvement and making a good effect.

2. Scalability and Market Potential.

Clear growth strategy: Firms want to see a well-articulated plan for increasing the business’s impact in addition to financial development. This could include entering new markets, introducing new products or services, or using technology to reach a larger audience.

Market validation and traction: Proven market demand and early traction are critical. This could include customer testimonials, trial initiatives, or revenue increases that illustrate the company’s ability to scale.

Strong teamwork and leadership: Sustainable scaling requires a capable and passionate staff. Firms seek leaders that have the experience, vision, and resilience to overcome the obstacles of expansion.

3. Financial sustainability and profitability.

A sustainable company model generates revenue and profits over time while simultaneously having a social and environmental impact.

Financial track record and projections: Firms often search for companies with a history of financial stability and realistic growth projections. This helps to determine the company’s ability to scale while being financially viable.

Understanding the business’s unit economics, or the cost of acquiring and serving each customer, is critical for analysing scalability.

4. Alignment between values and mission

Shared values: Venture capital firms that specialise in sustainable scaling frequently seek alignment with the values and missions of the companies they invest in. This promotes a strong collaboration and a shared commitment to effecting positive change.

Firms may seek out enterprises that provide something distinctive or new, providing value to the ecosystem of impact-driven organisations.

Long-term vision: Businesses with a long-term impact strategy are more likely to attract funding from companies that prioritise sustainable scaling.

The investment process for venture capital firms that specialise in sustainable scaling

The Investment Process for Venture Capital Firms Specialising in Sustainable Scaling

Initial screening: The firm examines the company’s pitch deck and other materials to determine its suitability for the firm’s investment requirements.

Due diligence: The firm performs a more thorough investigation of the business, which includes financial modelling, market research, and impact evaluation.

Partner meeting(s): The firm consults with the company’s leadership team about the business model, growth strategy, and impact objectives.

Investment decision: The firm decides whether to invest depending on the results of the due diligence process and partner meetings.

Post-investment support: If the firm decides to invest, it usually gives continuous assistance to the company, such as strategic advice, access to networks, and mentorship.

Of course, scalability and market potential remain critical. Venture capitalists look for a well-defined growth strategy that tackles not only financial expansion but also how the company intends to increase its positive effect as it grows. This could include expanding into new markets, offering innovative products, or using technology to reach a larger audience. Early traction and market validation are also important – tangible evidence such as client testimonials, pilot projects, or revenue growth that illustrate the company’s ability to develop while remaining impact-focused. A solid team is the foundation of any successful venture. Venture capitalists seek enthusiastic, experienced executives with the vision and tenacity to face the obstacles of building a sustainable firm.

Financial sustainability and profitability are also crucial. A sustainable company strategy generates steady revenue and profits while keeping committed to its social and environmental goals. This includes a demonstrated track record of financial stability, realistic estimates for future growth, and a thorough understanding of the company’s unit economics – the expenses associated with gaining and serving each customer. These characteristics help investors determine whether a firm can efficiently scale while remaining financially viable in the long run.

Finally, there’s the often-overlooked concept of shared values and mission. Venture capital firms focused on sustainable scaling frequently seek alignment with the values and missions of the companies they invest in. This builds a stronger collaboration, one founded on a common desire to effect positive change. They seek out businesses that provide something distinctive or new, bringing value to the larger ecosystem of impact-driven organisations. Businesses with a long-term impact goal are especially appealing to these investors, who want to support enterprises that will make a difference in the long run.

Why Have Growth-Stage Businesses Become So Focused on Sustainable Scaling?

Sustainable scaling is no longer a passing fad; it is a strategic need for South African and international growth-stage companies. But what is causing this shift in focus?

1. Long-term resilience and profitability:

Growth-stage companies are increasingly realising that sustainable scaling is more than just doing good; it is about developing a business that will flourish in the long run. Companies that incorporate environmental and social factors into their growth strategy can decrease risks, lower costs, and build a more robust company model that can withstand economic and environmental shocks.

2. Changing Customer Expectations:

Consumers are becoming more aware of the influence their shopping selections have on the planet. They seek products and services from firms who share their values and are committed to sustainability. Growth-stage companies that adopt sustainable scaling can capitalise on this rising market segment and foster brand loyalty among aware consumers.

3. Investor Demand and Access to Capital:

effect investment is on the rise, and venture capital firms focused on sustainable scaling are actively looking for companies that prioritise both financial returns and good effect. This opens up a substantial opportunity for growth-stage enterprises that can demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability. By aligning with investor principles, firms can gain access to finance and strategic support that will help them expand.

4. Talent Acquisition and Retention:

The best talent prefers to work for firms that make a difference in the world. Growth-stage companies that prioritise sustainable growth may attract and retain great individuals that are committed to their mission and values. This can provide a competitive advantage in a tight labour market.

5. The Regulatory and Policy Landscape:

Governments and regulatory organisations are increasingly prioritising sustainability, enacting laws and rules that encourage firms to adopt sustainable practices. Businesses in the growth stage that embrace sustainable scaling proactively might better position themselves to comply with changing rules and avoid potential penalties.

6. Competitive differentiation:

In a competitive market, sustainable scalability can be a significant differentiation. Businesses that can demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and impact can differentiate themselves from their competition, gain more customers, and establish a stronger brand reputation.

In essence, sustainable scaling is a win-win approach. It enables growth-stage enterprises to achieve financial success while simultaneously contributing to a more egalitarian and sustainable future. Companies that embrace this approach can open up new opportunities, increase resilience, and position themselves for long-term success in an ever-changing world.

Un assessing growth prospects for impact-driven firms is a complex task. Venture capital businesses that specialise in sustainable scaling look beyond typical metrics, taking into account a variety of criteria such as social, environmental, and financial performance. Understanding these characteristics allows businesses to better position themselves for investment and collaboration with these forward-thinking companies.

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Matthew Musgrove

Matthew Musgrove

Matthew is an entrepreneur and business Advisor with a passion for change management and social empowerment. With a background in business accounting and advisory, as well clinical research project management, he strives to find strategic and sustainable solutions to business problems.



Mark Van Hoff comes from background of technical & production planning, budgeting & scheduling of major live events. As the first production co-ordinator at M-NET for Outside Broadcasts, Mark has managed major local and international productions including Miss South Africa, Miss World, multiple music events and major sports events, including the PnP Cycling Tour.​Mark co-founded Van-Man Productions in 1994, Page to Picture in 2000 and Move Media Networks in 2007. All three companies have achieved domestic success and have been well-regarded in the South African production industry.



Oluwaseun Adewuyi who is the Group Chief Finance Officer (CFO) at Caban, is a Certified Chartered Accountant, with Fellowship status at both the ACCA as well as the Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, a UK Based industry body with a specific focus on the management of charities, not-for-profit organisations and NGOs.. Oluwaseun comes with strong business acumen and 20+ years of progressive experience in finance and operations management within well-reputed and high growth organisations Including Next Plc and Royal Mail. He has been heavily involved in impact investment across Sub-Saharan Africa and has been instrumental in the creation of a series of community schools in West Africa. Throughout his career, he oversaw a broad range of operations, including Business Strategy and Business Reorganisation, summarising the organisation’s financial status, and coordinating the preparation of tactical plans, financial forecasts, and budgets. Adept at developing and implementing effective internal control framework to maintain sound financial accountability.

tim scholtz


Tim Scholtz, who's is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Caban Investments, is experienced in implementing corporate governance guidelines, formulating risk management structures, process and cost optimization. Tim has a strong corporate background, having worked as COO at the South African Tourism board, was COO at the Nelson Mandela foundation and as a internal audit manager at Arthur Anderson earlier in his career.

Ben Botes


Ben Botes is Entrepreneur, VC, co-Founder, Author and Academic with a strong social conscience. Ben Involved with early stage and growth firms for the past 20 years and has been Co-founder of 9 separate businesses across Africa. Ben has directly and indirectly been involved in impact investment and the support of charities and non profits for the last 30 years. Ben is a regular speaker at the African Investment Conference in London and has been featured in Wall Street for Europe, The Guardian Small Business, BBC, the Mail and Guardian in the UK and BizCommunity, Channel 3 TV, Investors Weekly, The Cape Times, Radio 702 with John Robbie and Good Hope FM in South Africa

Dave Romero


Dave Romero is a venture capitalist and entrepreneur with a passion for making an impact. A qualified Professional Accountant, Dave has been a director in multiple financial institutions and was once the youngest Chairman on the JSE, in addition to being listed as one of Business Times’ Top 100 companies and the 40th fastest-growing company in South Africa. Dave is a core founder of the Caban Group, which aims to provide a comprehensive service offering to small businesses in return for equity. With a passion for nurturing entrepreneurs, Dave can often be found outside of the boardroom – offering advice, creating innovative funding solutions and building communities through sustainable practices.



Dr Ruben Richards is a truly inspirational South African leader. Through his peace-building seminars for criminal gangs, Dr Ruben has facilitated the longest ceasefire in the history of gang warfare on the Cape Flats. In addition to being Chairman & Founder of the non-profit Ruben Richards Foundation, Dr Ruben is an ordained cleric, company director, non-executive Chairman of Visual International Limited and was once the Deputy Director-General of the now-disbanded Scorpions.