Social investment is at last on the G8 agenda - Spear's Magazine

Social investment is at last on the G8 agenda

Impact investors are now channelling billions of dollars each year to fund investments in sectors ranging from sustainable agriculture to affordable housing, clean technology

The prime minister’s pledge to use Britain's G8 presidency to increase social impact investing will be boosted this week with distinguished international philanthropists and social enterprise executives flying into London to take part in the first Social Impact Investment Conference.

Mr Cameron is hosting the event, with support from Sir Ronald Cohen (pictured above) and Lord Rothschild, in the lead-up to the G8 Summit in Enniskillen, later this month.

Clearly, social entrepreneurship is increasingly a cross-border initiative. Impact investors are now channelling billions of dollars each year to fund investments in sectors ranging from sustainable agriculture to affordable housing, clean technology to tourism for the disabled and financial services for the poor.

Leading players such as JP Morgan, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Our Future Fund, set up by Vagit Alekperov, president of Russian oil giant LuKoil, are looking to learn from each other’s experience in the field. Our Future Fund is, for instance, working with Sir Ronald and recently hosted a visit in Moscow from Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Social Enterprise London and Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK.

Sir Ronald’s message to G8 members, supported by eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar, is that 'by tapping the power of markets, impact investing has strong promise of unlocking new capital sources that can complement existing philanthropic and government funds. It can also catalyse innovations that help unravel some of society's most pressing problems.'

Mr Alekperov concurs. 'Although social entrepreneurship is a relatively new trend in Russia, it demonstrates that part of society is ready to participate fully in social decisions, by creating effective business models that have a long-term social impact. Our aim is to develop and promote innovative and sustainable investment, by harnessing entrepreneurial talent in local communities.'

While applauding Mr Cameron's pledge to leverage the presidency to embrace impact investing, many observers will hope the results of the meeting are translated into bold action. In any event, social entrepreneurship now has a powerful global voice.

Ross Gow is managing partner of Acuity Reputation

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