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Impact Investing Newsbrief
Earlier this month, the Impact Investing initiative had the pleasure of welcoming several of our grantees to The Rockefeller Foundation’s Nairobi offices for a two day workshop convened under the theme, “Setting the Stage for Impact Investing Policy in Africa.” The purpose of the meeting was to gather and acquaint the group of grantees in advance of work they are about to embark upon, both independently and collaboratively, to contribute to two overarching goals: 1) understand the policy barriers and enabling environment for impact investing across Africa and 2) recommend national policies to encourage the growth of the industry for the ultimate benefit of poor and/or vulnerable communities.
Six sub-Saharan countries will form the focus of this intensive research: Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa. With a grantee focused on each country, our partners will seek to answer the following questions based on the specific context of their country:
Through answering these questions, our grantees will provide actionable policy recommendations for scaling the impact investing industry in all six countries. As a whole, this portfolio of work will also lay the foundations of a coalition of stakeholders with a shared understanding of impact investing and vision for its potential in their local context.
Learn more about the meeting in this blog post from our partners at the Initiative for Responsible Investing at Harvard University, who helped facilitate the meeting.
Social stock exchanges, trading platforms that allow impact investors to more efficiently channel capital into social businesses, are an emergent and innovative new industry tool, yet today there are just two operating exchanges in the world. But that will change next month when Rockefeller grantees Shujog, a Singapore-based non-profit that helps social enterprises raise growth capital, and Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), Shujog’s sister company, announce the official launch of Impact Exchange, Asia’s first social stock exchange.
The launch will take place at the first annual Impact Forum in Singapore, a meeting Shujog and IIX are convening on June 25th and 26th. The event, which will bring together individuals and experts from around the globe to discuss impact investing and social entrepreneurship, is illustrative of the increasingly active role that Asia, home to the majority of the world’s poor, is assuming in the impact investing space. The Rockefeller Foundation is very pleased to be participating in the meeting, and especially to have our president, Dr. Judith Rodin, providing a taped address to Forum attendees.
Recent Industry Events
Last week The Rockefeller Foundation was delighted to host a launch event in New York for the new Monitor-Acumen Fund study, “From Blueprint to Scale: The Case for Philanthropy in Impact Investing”, a report that eloquently describes how grant-funding is needed to bridge the gap when developing new business models that serve poor or vulnerable communities. Since its launch at the Global Philanthropy Forum in Washington D.C., the report has stimulated an important conversation about the ongoing need and role for philanthropy in the Impact Investing industry.
In hosting the launch event, the Foundation’s hope was to help carry the conversation forward, partly as a means of addressing the challenges depicted in the report, such as the acute need to focus on the “demand-side” of socially- and environmentally-focused capital. That need is one our team has been aware of for some time, and last year motivated us to engage in an exploration that intends to evaluate impact enterprise sectors and business models that have the potential to provide scalable and broad-based solutions for disadvantaged populations. We see exciting potential for future work to flow from this exploration, work that would represent new opportunities for the Foundation to continue fostering the growth of the impact investing field.
Last month, the Foundation participated in the third annual meeting of the GIIN Investors Council. This was the largest meeting of the IC to date. This community of large-scale active impact investors is working to collectively inform and advance the day-to-day practice of impact investing and the development of the broader industry. Today’s GIIN Investors’ Council has 49 members, who together manage US$58 billion in impact investments and have total assets of approximately US$10 trillion.
Also last month, the U.S. Department of State convened the Secretary of State’s Global Impact Economy Forum in Washington, D.C. The Foundation’s Vice President of Strategy and Evaluation, Zia Khan, spoke on a panel entitled, “From Aid to Investment: Deriving Financial Value from Impact,” moderated by OPIC’s President and CEO, Elizabeth Littlefield. The theme of that panel was a central one throughout the two-day event, where attendees discussed the need for governments and philanthropists to shift focus from “donor-driven aid to catalytic investment”, and examined how those resources can catalyze business and investment opportunities that yield financial, social and environmental returns. In keeping with that theme, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton announced at the Forum the launch of a new public-private partnership initiative: Accelerating Market-driven Partnerships, or “AMP.”
The initiative will utilize the power of market research, collective action, cross-sector networks, and innovative business models to help identify and unlock potential business opportunities in countries transitioning from development assistance, but targeting only sectors that hold the promise of generating positive social and/or environmental impact in the communities that would receive the investment. AMP will launch in Brazil, where it will draw on the resources of the private sector, civil society, and multilateral partners in both Brazil and the United States, including Machado Associados, Grupo ABC, HP, the Rockefeller Foundation, the World Bank Group, and Mercy Corps. We look forward to updating you on the initiative’s progress and how it will help achieve impact on the ground.
This month, the Financial Times will publish a special report devoted to impact investing and “what is needed before this emerging alternative-asset class can attract mainstream investors.” The piece features interviews with the Foundation’s Margot Brandenburg, acting Managing Director of our Impact Investing initiative, as well as some of our grantees, including David Wood, director of the Initiative for Responsible Investment at Harvard University and Andrew Kassoy, co-founder of B Lab, a non-profit that aims to harness the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. B Lab also made news this month with the announcement by Etsy, a major e-commerce website, that it had become a certified B Corporation. The company explained its decision to get certified this way: “We believe that business has a higher social purpose beyond simply profit. The B Corp assessment gives us a framework to measure Etsy’s success against rigorous values and responsible practices as we scale as a company.”