Let’s Make Money More
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
By Jean Case
There is a growing movement afoot that represents a significant opportunity for business to drive real social change. By allocating investment dollars towards businesses that have social impact, the impact investing movement has the potential to create unprecedented shared value for business and society.
The last decade has witnessed significant growth in funds, associations, conferences and other efforts to address this potential. There has also been significant investment in building the ecosystem to support impact investing, and organizations including the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) and B Lab have pioneered this work with support from the Omidyar Network, the Rockefeller Foundation, and many others.
Many from the impact investing community gathered last week for the annual SOCAP conference in San Francisco, which had a record year for attendance. And yet, many savvy and sophisticated investors are sitting on the sidelines, often completely unaware of the new opportunities that are emerging to mobilize investment and philanthropic capital to businesses that want to deliver financial and social returns.
Opportunities for Scale
Impact investing is still seen as a niche market – yet to “cross the chasm” into the mainstream, as we say in the technology world. My husband (AOL AOL 0% co-founder Steve Case) and I have invested in a variety of approaches to more explicitly blend for-profit and for-purpose – both personally and through our work with the Case Foundation and Revolution. And we’ve long believed that our for-profit investments have impact by launching new companies, driving innovation, and creating jobs.
We’re ready for less talk and more action: Despite the excitement for its potential, impact investing is not scaling at the pace many have hoped for. There is a broad consensus that we need to do more to “walk the walk” in order to reach mainstream investors and money managers, who move the majority of investment dollars and will play a key role in accelerating progress in this market.