15 Voices: An Interview with Gail and Tom Kaneb


Gail and Tom Kaneb are Canadian philanthropists who have been impact investors – and Root Capital supporters – since the early days. Champions of impact and innovation, they have encouraged us to continuously push the frontier of our lending. Both Gail and Tom have invested significantly in Root Capital with their wisdom, business acumen, time (both served six years on the Root Capital board), and passion. We are deeply appreciative of their friendship and support. 

Root Capital: When did you first encounter Root Capital? 

Kanebs: We first encountered Root Capital at a conference for philanthropists organized by Synergos. The topic was how to be a better philanthropist and how to connect your philanthropic efforts with your passions in other parts of your life.

Root Capital: Why have you been involved with Root Capital?

Kanebs: Root Capital was quite small when we first engaged. The profile of the organization matched what Tom does in his work life: investing in early-stage and startup companies that have developed innovative solutions for longstanding problems. We believe that a critical part of poverty alleviation is economic growth – and we all need access to credit to fund our economic growth. Can you imagine the U.S. with no credit? Imagine 2009, but with a total meltdown in the credit markets. We saw that Root Capital had the potential to grow rapidly and had the leadership to execute well.

Root Capital: What is one word that summarizes Root Capital in your mind? Can you share a story from your relationship with Root Capital that reflects that word? 

Kanebs: Since there are two of us, we’re each supplying a word: Dynamic and outstanding. Everything Root does is at a level of excellence that is unusual for any organization, whether in the for-profit or the non-profit world. From development of people to development of markets, from analyzing risk to analyzing and articulating impact, the thought process and resulting conversations are always intense, dynamic and honest. We have been impressed by Root Capital from the first day we walked in and everything we had heard was substantiated by visiting clients in the field.

Root Capital: What excites you most about what Root Capital can achieve in the next 15 years?  

Kanebs: We’re excited about Root Capital expanding the rural credit market to include even more people and products and seeing the organization reach $1 billion in cumulative lending—or better, $1 billion in annual lending! We’re also excited to see Root Capital integrate innovations like crop insurance, price hedging, and storage solutions for perishable staple crops into their core offerings.

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