The more things change, the more they stay the same. In PCV’s first social impact report from 1999 our founders Bud Colligan and Penelope Douglas wrote, “No one could ask for more business activity than the country has seen in the last eight years, yet lower-income people are not any better off and many communities have failed to benefit from this wave of prosperity.” Sound familiar?
This year the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to a 17-year low, yet almost half of American workers are stuck in low-wage jobs; the number of new small businesses is at rock bottom; and your race or where you’re born are the biggest factors for financial success in life. Pacific Community Ventures believes we all play a role in creating equitable communities, where everyone has access to things like a good job, healthcare, affordable housing, clean energy, and healthy food.
20 years ago, we were one of the first investors to insist that investing in lower-income neighborhoods could generate positive social and environmental impact while also making a financial return. Our ideas worked. For the next two decades we helped to shepherd this growing “impact investing” movement, launching the Impact Investing Policy Collaborative, advising the Global Impact Investing Network on the IRIS impact metrics and Navigating Impact Project, and in providing research support to the U.S. National Advisory Board on Impact Investing, the G8 Social Impact Investment Task Force, and the White House Impact Economy Summit, and partnering in the Impact Management Project to create a unified global approach to impact measurement.
So where do we go from here?
Pacific Community Ventures knows that equitable investments in small and socially-conscious businesses can create good jobs. While we work with small businesses and community organizations to create quality jobs, we’re also ramping up our work with investors across America to shake up the status quo and re-shape investment markets and policies to better serve working families, our environment, and our local communities.
Our work over the next five years will unlock the potential social impact of tens of trillions of dollars in capital. That means working with mission investors and foundations, pension funds, investment managers, and faith-based investors to deploy more impact capital, more effectively, in economically distressed communities, with selective field building research that ultimately drives more impact measurement and management so we know what’s working and fix what isn’t.
Many of our fellow community and impact investors – whether they’re individuals or big institutions, public or private — don’t do social or environmental impact measurement. Some don’t have the knowledge within their organizations to do it, or the resources to fund a consultant like us. Unless we actively measure and report the social impacts that investments produce, there’s no real way to differentiate impact investing from the kinds of investing that put profits ahead of people. Not just that: there’s a growing body of evidence that focusing on measuring impact from the get-go enhances financial performance.
Stagnant wages, rising housing costs, expensive and segregated education, policies that favor globalized corporations over local economies, neglected transportation infrastructure — it all adds up. At PCV we’re investing in a new quality jobs economy, and we hope that you will join us in this journey.