A New Fund Seeks Both Financial and Social Returns
“There is a lazy mindedness that we afford the do-gooders.”
That was Bono, the musician turned activist turned investor, lamenting the pitfalls of what has become an increasingly fashionable form of financing: social impact investing.
Just about every big Wall Street firm and big-time philanthropist has recently tried to get in on what’s often called double bottom line investing. The idea is that an investment isn’t just intended to score a high return; perhaps more important, it is supposed to make a significant difference in an area that had been considered un-investable. Goldman Sachs, for example, created social impact bonds to reduce the recidivism rate for adolescent offenders at the Rikers Island correctional facility in New York City.
Most of these efforts have had mixed results; either investors lost money, or the social impact was negligible or nonexistent.
It has become, as Bono told me, “a lot of bad deals done by good people.” Now, a group of high-profile executives and investors are putting together perhaps the most ambitious social impact fund.