Another way the IDP Foundation engages in impact investing is through Program Related Investments (PRIs), created under the US Tax Reform Act of 1969 (Section 4944). Despite all the advantages of a PRI, this valuable investment tool remains severely underutilized. We encourage philanthropists to learn more about PRIs as a skillful way to invest for social impact.

What is a PRI?

PRIs are investments that can be made by a charitable foundation as part of their grantmaking as long as the investment furthers its charitable mission. Making returns on the investment is permitted provided it complies with the Internal Revenue Service’s rules. PRIs can take the form of loans, loan guarantees, lines of credit, linked deposits, or equity investments.

PRI Benefits

The IDP Foundation has been consistently on the forefront of utilizing PRIs as a highly useful addition to a pure grant to advance our philanthropic activities. PRIs allow us to engage in high risk but catalytic, early stage investments that potentially have enormous social impact. High risk investments were previously prohibited under the Prudent Investor Rule and could not be made out of grant funds.

If the PRI fails, it can be written off as a grant that counts towards the foundation’s mandatory annual disbursement of philanthropic funds. In our experience, this is one of the biggest benefits of a PRI. Conversely, if the investment is successful, the profits move into the normal investment activities of the corpus and are removed from the philanthropic giving. PRIs provide enormous benefits not only for the IDP Foundation but also for the recipient enterprise that often would prefer some form of investment instead of a grant.


Courtesy of Edovo
Courtesy of Edovo

One enterprise that we support with a PRI is Edovo, a Chicago-based technology company that is innovating, developing and creating progress through learning. Edovo is committed to building better lives for incarcerated individuals by bringing quality education, communication, and rehabilitation to millions of incarcerated people in the U.S. They have developed a tablet-based learning program preloaded with educational content that prepares inmates for a successful re-entry into the community. Content includes GED-preparation, behavioral therapy, and life skills training. Tablets are connected to a secure WIFI network and are formatted to only access the learning content. Our equity debt investment in Edovo enables us to build on our mission while also providing valuable capital for a socially impactful venture. Learn more about Edovo.

We believe that our ability to support potentially impactful social enterprises with investment solutions such as PRIs is an important way to spur sustainable solutions to complex global issues.

The People's Poet

Maya Angelou and Irene Pritzker
Maya Angelou and Irene Pritzker

In 2014 IDP Foundation became a member investor of The People's Poet LLC, who drove the creation of the first feature documentary to tell the full story of the incomparable Maya Angelou. The filmakers Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack had unprecedented access to trace Dr. Angelou's amazing journey, spotlighting the untold elements of her life with never-before-seen footage as part of the PBS American Masters Series. Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise features interviews with Dr. Angelou, her friends and family, including Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Common, Alfre Woodard, Cicely Tyson, Quincy Jones, Hillary Clinton, Louis Gossett, Jr., John Singleton, Diahann Carroll, Valerie Simpson, Random House editor Bob Loomis and Dr. Angelou’s son, Guy Johnson.

Eneza Education

IDP Foundation supports Eneza Education with a PRI. They aim to make 50 million students in rural Africa smarter by leveraging low-cost mobile technology. They provide a virtual tutor for students and as a teacher’s assistant and aim to become the go-to educational platform in Africa. Their goal is to improve the learning outcomes of underserved learners by using low-tech solutions that are readily available. Through SMS they provide revision notes and material that are aligned to the local curriculum and their web solutions are designed to consume low data bandwidth.

Ako Adjei Park

Ako Adjei Park and its forward-facing brand, Impact Hub Accra, works to advance a future for a new generation of leaders across 3 key communities: technology, creative economy and social impact. Starting in 2023, the hub’s 3-year growth strategy (#FastForward2025) is built around 3 big components: Rapid Real Estate Expansion, Programs/Venture Building and Convening/Events. IDP Foundation has supported them since 2019. 

Sinapi Aba Savings and Loans

IDP Foundation has supported Sinapi Aba Savings and Loans (SASL), a financial microfinance institution based in Ghana, with PRIs for over a decade. It provides holistic financial solutions in Business, Housing, Agricultural, and Education through a range of innovative products and services. In 2009, IDP Foundation, in partnership with Sinapi Aba Trust, established the IDP Rising Schools Program in response to market demand from low-income families seeking affordable, quality education for their children. This partnership aims to improve access to quality education, and raise the profile of low-fee private schools (LFPS) in Ghana. As part of the program, SASL offers special concessionary loans to LFPS proprietors in Ghana who would otherwise not qualify, as well as financial and school management training to strengthen and improve the school’s sustainability.

Moringa Connect

While working with farming communities in rural Ghana, co-founders Kwami and Emily were inspired by super-crop known locally as ‘the miracle tree,’ ‘the never-die tree,’ or just – moringa. Aid organizations had spread these moringa trees throughout rural communities in Ghana, explaining that the leaves and seeds were valuable and nutritious. Without connections to a market, however, the fast growing moringa tree became a nuisance in farmers’ backyards and the seeds from the tree left to rot or fed to the animals. Kwami and Emily set about creating a supply chain to connect farmers to conscious consumers and introduce the world to moringa. IDP Foundation supports Moringa Connect so that their vertically integrated supply chain can continue to serve over 5,000 small farming families throughout Ghana. They have planted over 2 million moringa trees and help rural families break the cycle of poverty, multiplying incomes by 10x.

Premier Credit Limited

In 2022 IDP Foundation launched the Ongoza Program with Premier Credit and Dignitas. With a PRI we support Premier Credit, a credit-only microfinancier established in 2013, which serves over 211,000 active clients across Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, DRC, and South Africa. As part of the Ongoza Program, this partnership aims to improve access to finance for education entrepreneurs in Kenya, through the creation of a special concessionary loan product for Kenyan low-fee private school (LFPS) owners who would not normally qualify. This blended finance model uses philanthropic capital to unlock private capital and bring more financing to low-fee private schools and is targeted to impact more than 100,000 children from low-income communities across Kenya.

Learn more about IDPF Impact Investing

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