A powerhouse in the credit and finance industry, Linda Habgood has worked on transactions in more than 70 countries and arranged billions of dollars in long-term, limited recourse debt and equity for her clients. Driving it all is her expertise in underwriting and structuring transactions to meet investor and lender requirements, and arranging growth capital from commercial, bilateral, and multilateral development banks and the world’s export credit agencies. Throughout her 30+ year career, Linda has held positions as a banker, advisor, and principal, and today serves as co-chair of Delphos International (“Delphos”), a role she was well-prepared for, following her tenure at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (now the U.S. Development Finance Corporation) and The Chase Manhattan Bank. Delphos is a premier independent financial advisory firm specializing in securing long-term, competitively priced capital for businesses and projects across emerging markets. With a global reach that stretches across Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, Delphos counts among its clients the World Bank, USTDA, the Inter-American Development Bank, MCC, USAID, African Development Bank, leading infrastructure developers and strategic investors, emerging markets private equity firms, and foreign governments and utilities.
As a recognized expert in emerging markets finance and the leader of a firm dedicated to impact investing, Linda helped build Delphos to $20 billion in capital raised, a client base of over 1,200, and a respected global expert. Driven by her commitment to her clients and her passion for making a meaningful impact on investors and communities alike, she’s led change and innovation in the firm’s financial solutions, helping Delphos to win eight industry awards—including two prestigious Project Finance International Deal of the Year commendations.
As the first female partner of Delphos and the first woman to serve on its board, Linda has a passion for advancing women and gender equity in the field of finance. She is the co-founder and a legacy member of Wharton EMBA Women’s Affinity Group, providing networking and mentoring support to an extensive group of women entering the business and financial sectors from one of the top business schools. Linda received an MBA with a finance and entrepreneurship concentration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in international political economy from The College of William and Mary. She also holds FINRA series 7 and 63 licenses.
The Top 100 Magazine spoke with Linda to learn more about how she and Delphos are helping investors, businesses, and communities across the globe benefit from impact investing.
Tell us more about Delphos and the services you provide.
Delphos is a 34-year-old, independent, emerging markets financial advisory firm with eight offices across five continents. The development bank funding process can be complex and difficult to navigate – it’s not easy to sort out the myriad types and sources of capital. We lead our clients through the transaction process from start to close, saving them time and reducing their costs. We specialize in tapping into the resources of more than 450 government agencies and multilateral organizations worldwide to help clients realize their business goals and enable funders to achieve development objectives. In addition to our capital-raising efforts, we provide consulting services to both government agencies and private-sector clients across multiple industries—including infrastructure, power, telecoms, agriculture, real estate, financial services, and more.
What does your day-to-day look like as co-chair?
My primary responsibilities revolve around enhancing our reputation as the expert in structuring and securing financing from official capital sources and advancing our clients’ frontier markets businesses. I focus on structuring transactions that meet the goals of both the public and private sector. It’s finding the common ground in a public-private partnership that is the key to a successful transaction.
What sets Delphos apart from other financial firms?
Honestly, we are the original impact advisor. We have been securing development agency capital to facilitate foreign direct investment for decades—long before it was even called “impact” financing. This leadership and experience sets Delphos apart as the go-to source for specialized finance solutions in emerging markets. No one knows the world of development finance like we do. Our expertise enables us to unlock impactful official capital for the benefit of companies committed to growing the world’s frontier economies. A lot of companies and project developers don’t consider the capital provided by these official sources - the development banks - because they think they’ll be too bureaucratic or will take too long. However, we know the process inside and out and can help our clients avoid a lot of common and costly mistakes.
Are you seeing increasing interest from investors and companies who are investing in emerging markets?
Absolutely! We’re seeing an increasing amount of capital focused on climate change, renewable energy, social advancement, poverty reduction, women’s empowerment, and more, and it is really exciting. When Delphos started in 1987, the impact investors were limited to the development banks, but about 10 years ago, the industry created an asset class around global impact investing. Since that time, there’s been a deluge of interest from both individual investors and companies worldwide, and COVID has helped to accelerate that trend even further. Foreign direct investment flows generally dropped by 42% in 2020, but there has been much less fluctuation over time in developing economies, which is where Delphos focuses. Every year, $616 billion is flowing into these economies fairly consistently, but the needs are so much greater. Gaps in investment in small- and medium-sized businesses alone were estimated to be $5 trillion before the pandemic hit. These are staggering numbers. Government agencies have always cared about the social and environmental impacts of investments, but what we are happy to see is an increasing volume of private capital following it. As we get better at measuring the impacts of these public and private investments, the asset class will attract even more capital.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I’m very passionate about the work my colleagues and I do to forge successful public-private partnerships. I love helping companies find just the right public financial solution for their private sector business, but what I enjoy most is closing deals! It’s not easy to navigate the world of development finance, and it is thrilling to help my clients identify and secure capital that fits. Unlocking capital that advances a business in an emerging market means more jobs, more technology transfer, more tools to advance an economy and the world’s social development goals.