The Top 25: #14 Claudine Emeott, Salesforce Impact Fund

Claudine Emeott is a director of Salesforce Impact Fund, the $50m impact investment fund of enterprise software producer Salesforces’ corporate venturing unit Salesforce Ventures. The fund focuses on investments from series A to C in enterprise technology companies with a social or environmental impact. It is focuses particularly on areas such as education and workforce development, sustainability, diversity and inclusion and enabling technology for the social sector.

Emeott joined the fund in 2017 from a five-year stint at non-profit organisation Kiva Microfunds, which offers loans to low-income entrepreneurs. Suzanne DiBianca, Salesforce’s executive vice-president of corporate relations and chief philanthropy officer, said in her nomination of Emeott: “Claudine is a world-class professional and investor. She brings a deep passion for the work, an entrepreneurial spirit to her job and is deeply committed to the success of the companies in our portfolio. She is a joy to work with and a gem in the industry.”

Because of the “unique opportunity to shape not only a new direction for corporate venture capital but also a new channel for a corporate social mission”, Emeott said she hoped to make a difference in society. She added: “Although the impact investing field has gained much momentum in recent years, the notion of a corporate venture arm doing impact investing is still relatively novel, but it represents a key opportunity as corporates consider how to best align their assets with their values and with the values of their stakeholders.

“By combining financial investment with a strong technology ecosystem, CVC already offers a compelling tool to accelerate the growth of portfolio companies. When we layer in a commitment to social or environmental impact as well, we bring powerful resources to big challenges and this is incredibly exciting.

“Not all challenges can be solved by market-based solutions, so I believe strongly in protecting the mandate of corporate foundations. That said, an opportunity to put more capital to work through a corporate venture arm means that we significantly increase the likelihood of achieving demonstrable social or environmental impact at scale.”

One of her greatest challenges in this role, Emeott said, was holding herself and her portfolio companies accountable to a “strategic mandate for integrating with Salesforce”.

Among the investments she has led so far are in US-based companies with “deep commitments to solving big problems”. These include IT recruitment company focused on Africa-based developers Andela, off-grid solar system provider Angaza, women-oriented investment platform creator Ellevest, education benefits software provider Guild Education, messaging software developer Hustle, building sustainability-tracking software creator Measurabl, recruitment analytics software developer Metrics and higher education micro-scholarship provider RaiseMe.

Emeott has a bachelor’s degree in East Asian studies from Harvard University and a master’s in international development of city planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She said: “I began my career in economic development consulting in both emerging markets and the US and I have spent the second half of my career at the intersection of tech, impact and investing.”

Emeott has a four-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son. “They keep me busy in whatever spare time I have left, and they remind me of the importance of this work – to make the world a better place for future generations.”