Turning SOCAP14’s theme into a question, just what does it take to Ignite Vibrant Communities? PCV is dedicated to creating economic opportunity in low-income communities. While we focus on empowering entrepreneurship, we know full well that economic opportunity requires more than just small business and jobs—housing, health care, access to healthy food and quality education are just as critical. Ultimately, igniting vibrant communities requires all of these things. And impact investing — leveraging private capital for financial return and social good — is a key tool for building all of these elements that combine to ignite vibrant communities.
With that context in mind, I spoke at Impact Investing: The Next Catalytic Steps, a breakfast hosted by the Council on Foundations, the Ford Foundation, and the Case Foundation. Attended by over 100 people, the breakfast discussion focused on what needs to happen — primarily from a policy perspective, but also in terms of educating investors — to grow impact investing to meets the needs of the less fortunate among us. Sir Ronald Cohen, Chair of the Social Impact Investment Taskforce, which the G8 established last year to bring together government officials and senior leaders from finance, business and philanthropy from across the G8 countries, headlined the program. “Sir Ronnie” as many of us call him, shared the Taskforce’s work to inform governments and the worlds of finance and industry about what needs to be done to develop the impact investing market to scale. The Taskforce will be releasing its report on September 15th—be sure to check it out.
Jonathan Greenblatt, President Obama’s Special Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation in the Domestic Policy Council, also joined the breakfast. From Sir Ronnie’s global view, Jonathan then shared the Obama administration’s commitment to impact investing, calling attention to the U.S. National Advisory Board’s (NAB) work “Private Capital: Public Good—How Smart Federal Policy Can Galvanize Impact Investing, and Why It’s Urgent.” The NAB Report makes very specific recommendations—from removing regulatory barriers to creating incentives to encourage impact investing, to providing advice to impact entrepreneurs and using the Presidential Bully Pulpit to call attention to the field.
Christine Looney of the Ford Foundation, Paula Goldman of the Omidyar Network, and Kate Ahern of the Case Foundation, all shared their organizations’ support for impact investing, and especially the policy work that needs to get done to move the field forward.
I was thrilled to share PCV’s work in furthering the policy conversation on impact investing. For the past 5 years, PCV has partnered with the Initiative for Responsible Investment (IRI) at Harvard to establish and lead the global conversation on impact investing policy, both domestically here in the US and internationally. Together IRI and PCV convene the Impact Investing Policy Collaborative (IIPC) and host the Global Learning Exchange (GLE), which together form a global community of impact investing practice that has touched policymakers and other stakeholders in over 125 countries. Through the IIPC/GLE, we are continuing to engage countries, individuals and organizations, well beyond the G8, in developing their impact investing policies and processes.
Here at home in the U.S., a little more than a year ago, PCV and IRI brought the best advocacy shop in Washington DC when it comes to Impact Investing, Enterprise Community Partners, into our partnership. We teamed up and formed the Accelerating Impact Investing Initiative (AI3). The AI3 is furthering both learning (research, analysis, convenings) and action (advocacy, testimony, regulatory comments, building coalitions to ensure that change happens). Change that will not just enable but also encourage individuals, foundations, pension funds and others to make their capital impact capital, investing it to make money, but also to create jobs, build affordable housing, provide access to healthy food, and improve education–in short, using their capital to Ignite Vibrant Communities.
Read more about SOCAP 2014 and how we ignite vibrant communities, in this post by Allison Kelly.