Pacific Community Ventures’ Research and Consulting team has been busy these past few months attending several conferences across the US – and even one in Paris. We’re pleased to share what we’ve learned from these opportunities to grow our knowledge of trends in the impact investing field, connect with colleagues, and develop new relationships across the industry.
The GIIN Investor Forum
The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) hosted the GIIN Investor Forum in Paris this year and invited PCV’s Director Daniel Brett to attend their IRIS Working Group Meeting. The Forum hosted over 1,200 attendees with sessions covering a range of topics such as climate and the environment to diversity and inclusion to the development of the impact investment market. With institutional investors among the main sponsors and participating in many of the panel sessions, it’s clear that the mainstreaming of impact investing is upon us.
Sir Ronald Cohen, a pioneer of impact investing often called the father of venture capital in the UK, shared reflections from his career and how we can ensure that “impact washing” doesn’t occur as impact investing mainstreams: intentionality and impact measurement. At PCV, we encourage investors to codify their impact goals and themes and conduct rigorous impact due diligence to ensure that they are embedding intention into their work. After making the initial investment, developing a practice of impact measurement and management (IMM) where data is collected and learned from is equally important for investors to continually assess impact.
PCV attended the GIIN’s IRIS Working Group Meeting to offer feedback on how to advise investors to select appropriate IRIS metrics based on impact goals, themes, and strategies within those themes. For example, healthcare is a theme and providing basic health services to populations in rural areas is a strategy. PCV was able to draw on its deep IMM expertise building out frameworks for clients as well as selecting indicators, both from the IRIS catalog as well as customized indicators, which align with the investors and investees’ desired outcomes. We were joined by attendees from a range of organizations with deep impact expertise, including the Impact Management Project, World Economic Forum, and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
American Evaluation Association Annual Conference
The American Evaluation Association (AEA) is a network of evaluators who apply and explore program evaluation, personnel evaluation, technology, and other forms of evaluation. The AEA hosts an annual conference with over 3,000 attendees to learn about methods, trends, and case studies in evaluation across several tracks, including social impact measurement. PCV’s Director Tom Woelfel presented with colleagues about Advancing Evaluation Practice in Impact Measurement and Management. Many evaluators are new to impact investing and consequently IMM, so we believe it is critically important for both evaluators and impact investors to continue to develop fluency in each other’s approaches to effectively scale the industry. Evaluators are continuing to learn finance and the level of rigor and evidence that investments demand. As evaluators develop their knowledge of the impact investing industry, they can support successful IMM, evaluation work, and impact due diligence.
Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) works to accelerate a global market that brings together money and meaning through events, a podcast, and an annual conference in PCV’s backyard (San Francisco). SOCAP18 had several tracks, including gender and markets, the circular economy, and blended finance. With over 3,000 attendees and over 200 sessions, participants could engage deeply – learning from each other and the prepared presentations. Walking away from SOCAP, we observed a few key themes that spanned sectors and asset classes. Investors and the enterprises they invest in are interested in…
- Understanding impact risks and potential unintended consequences
- Continuously refining their approaches to IMM based on emerging learnings
- Leveraging synergies between social and environmental solutions, especially in developing markets
- Increasing awareness of and interest in more intentional effort in supporting racial and gender equity
- Contributing to solutions that support systems change
Conversations and sessions on these topics featured diverse perspectives and often covered several themes. For example, Ensuring Today’s Solutions Don’t Become Tomorrow’s Problems discussed how social and environmental impact are intertwined – both with their successes and accompanying challenges. Yet there is a gap in helping social enterprises understand their environmental responsibility because of lack of awareness, resource constraints, and the lack of incentives to do so. NESsT, who provides loans and tailored business development to social entrepreneurs in emerging markets, shared their I2E Inventing Green Tool, which helps social enterprises assess their environmental footprint, identify where they can make improvements, and find practical resources for making changes. The broader session conversation covered several of the themes, including impact risk, social and environmental synergies, developing markets, racial and gender equity, and systems change.
We were excited to see these themes appear, especially given our work with impact due diligence and IMM and look forward to continuing the discussions with our colleagues.
Reading Roundup: Impact Investing from Around the Web
The GIIN prepared a series of case studies, highlighting impact investors who have begun to create products, raise capital, and make investments directly targeting progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Listen to SOCAP Podcast Money + Meaning. A recent episode, Tech + Government for an Inclusive Economy highlights the partnership between LendUp and the current Treasurer for City of St. Louis to support the emergence of a middle class across the U.S.
Walmart shares why they are focusing on investing in educating their employees, especially their associates.
For Impact Alpha’s series “Measure Better,” in partnership with Acumen, incorporating beneficiary – or customer voice – was highlighted as a key consideration in developing thoughtful impact measurement systems.
See how your investment returns and impact returns can be improved by working with us.