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Voices from the USAID Finance and Investment Network: KOIS

KOIS is an impact investment firm that specializes in supporting and scaling international development solutions. Dr. Serena Guarnaschelli is a partner at KOIS’s London office, and she spoke to INVEST about KOIS’s experience partnering with USAID INVEST, the tensions inherent in measuring leverage and impact, and how international development agencies can thoughtfully choose financial solutions and innovations.

By Carolanne Chanik, INVEST Communications Coordinator, and Kristin Jangraw, INVEST Communications Director

KOIS is a member of USAID’s Finance and Investment Network — a group of more than 300 firms that help USAID mobilize private capital for better development results. USAID’s INVEST initiative has partnered with KOIS because it has the niche expertise and skillsets necessary to move USAID’s development efforts forward.

“We’re relatively small. We’re specialized. We don’t always get to work with large public donors, so we appreciated INVEST’s streamlined procurement process,” explains KOIS partner Dr. Serena Guarnaschelli. “It was key for a company like ours to be able to participate and engage directly with USAID and bring forward our specialized set of skills.”

Through INVEST, KOIS supported USAID in the creation of the Blended Finance Roadmap for Global Health, a six-part roadmap for USAID staff in Missions and the Global Health Bureau to assess when a blended finance approach could be appropriate and how to apply it. KOIS also played a role in the development of Corporate Investment Partnerships for Growth and Sustainability, a report on emerging investment models that bring together the resources of companies, international development agencies, and investors for mutual benefit.

“Across both pieces of work, we wanted to support USAID Missions in understanding the space and context in which they were operating, defining the opportunity, and highlighting the role that USAID could play,” says Dr. Guarnaschelli. “We wanted to demonstrate in a tangible, pragmatic way how these opportunities could materialize through these learning products and actually start a dialogue with local Missions around how they can use these blended finance tools to support their work in-country.”

After two activities with INVEST, Dr. Guarnaschelli has some lessons learned under her belt. One big takeaway? Development agencies should be intentional and context-specific when selecting a financial tool. “Put the problem first and build around that,” she says. “Don’t chose an innovative financial model like an impact bond if a grant would do just fine, just for the sake of being innovative. Straightforward concessional sources of funding like grants, guarantees, and debt have the highest impact in some areas. It’s all about designing for your specific context.”

Check out the video below to hear KOIS’s Dr. Guarnaschelli’s thoughts on balancing leverage with other financial measures of success and how development agencies can make the most of their limited capital.

To learn more about KOIS, visit its website



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INVEST, a USAID initiative, mobilizes private investment for development goals. It drives inclusive growth and sustainable development in emerging markets.