In the past five years or so, impact investing has taken off in terms of the entrance of major players. Impact in this case is defined a bit broader than examples I noted in previous posts, as these major players are looking for both major social impact and financial returns that come with IPOs.
Social impact in this case can represent consumer companies that have mission focused approaches that include care and concern for humanity and the well-being of our planet. Examples include consumer companies like Patagonia, Warby Parker, Tom’s and Zappos. One could also make a case that Twitter and Facebook are social impact companies given the impact they have had worldwide in enabling communication in times of disaster and conflicts.
High net worth individuals, leading financial institutions, private equity and venture funds all now operate in the impact space along with foundations using PRI (program-related funds). A leading venture firm is DBL Partners which was formed in 2015 from the combination of DBL Investors and the Cleantech practice of Technology Partners. The Double Bottom Line (DBL) investment strategy is to invest in companies that can deliver top-tier venture capital returns, while working with our companies to enable social, environmental and economic improvement in the regions in which they operate. DBL investments include Solar City, Tesla and Pandora.
For more information on this see these recent posts by Jean Case – Confronting the Myths of Impact Investing and Nancy Pfund – Impact Investing: It’s Here and Now and It’s Big and Bold.
Three of my investments – Day One Response (clean drinking water), Sylvatex (clean tech) and Voz (sustainable fashion) fall into this category in the sense that they all meet the criteria noted above. However, as with all of my investments, who you know matters when it comes to raising serious money and this is especially true in impact investing. See previous posts – The Structure of Angel Investing Works Against All But A Select Few
Related to this, there are major impact investing conferences that attract the high net worth individuals, prominent family funds, leading financial institutions, private equity, venture funds and foundations. The Global Entrepreneurship Summit takes place at Stanford in June and includes prominent government representatives and community economic development groups. Another conference holder is Big Path Capital which hosts including one on Nantucket in July. I will tweet from the one on Nantucket, as hoping to make some connections for my investments.
Hope springs eternal.