Tim Freundlich is President of ImpactAssets, a boutique donor advised fund that specialises in socially responsible and impact investment options to mobilise human and financial capital towards a sustainable world. Tim is a long-term innovator in new financial instruments in the social enterprise sectors and was instrumental in establishing the precursor to ImpactAssets, the Calvert Giving Fund. Tim is also co-author of the ImpactAssets Handbook, an introductory text on how to become best positioned to engage in impact investing as an asset owner.
In this interview, Tim gives us an overview of ImpactAssets activities and the role of donor advised funds, philanthropic donations that are responsibly managed to maximise their long-term impact, allowing any individual donor in effect to be like the Gates Foundation. Tim discusses challenges and opportunities for financing small-scale social entrepreneurs and talks about different forms of impact investments, distinguishing between those that are “gap driven” and others that are “opportunity driven.” Tim is optimistic with regard to the millennial generation’s overwhelming support for purpose-driven business models. Given millennials are due to inherit the greatest generational wealth transfer in history this provides substantial opportunities for expanding such financial models. Finally, Tim stresses how impact investments’ rapid growth and proven track-record is changing finance and bringing impact led investing into the mainstream
(An edited version of this interview has previously been posted to the Inspiring Social Entrepreneurs podcast series.)
Harvey Koh is Managing Director at the global social change consulting firm FSG. Based in FSG’s Mumbai, India office, Harvey directs research and advocacy in the area of Inclusive Markets, advancing thinking about inclusive business and market-based solutions in development, with a global perspective. His primary focus is working with donors and companies to develop and scale inclusive business models that benefit the poor, across the housing, water and the healthcare sector.
In this interview, Harvey discusses FSG’s recent report Shaping Inclusive Markets: How Funders and Intermediaries can Help Markets Move Towards Greater Economic Inclusion. The report analyses historical cases where inclusive markets lead to expanded opportunities for a broadly shared prosperity and seeks to understand the ways in which they were achieved. Harvey stresses the importance of reimagining markets to produce inclusion. He underlines their importance in creating inclusive societies, as the poor are already participants in markets for basic services. He discusses some of the key findings from the report, particularly the importance of producer ownership in creating equitable livelihoods for poor and marginalised groups. He also addresses the importance of changing ownership structures in corporations, particularly the primacy of maximising shareholder return, in order to help businesses achieve long-term social goals. Finally, he briefly touches on the juncture between inclusive markets and sustainability issues.
Benetech Labs is the innovation engine of Benetech, a leading nonprofit that empowers communities through software for social good with a focus on education, human rights, poverty, and the environment. Benetech Labs works with communities and partners to identify needs and prototype software for social solutions and support solutions that deliver the greatest impact in the communities it serves. Benetech Labs uses a model very much like traditional venture capitalists use when evaluating projects with the key difference that Benetech Labs focuses on delivering maximum social good, not profit.
Anh is a seasoned nonprofit leader with expertise building scalable software for social good solutions through ecosystem engagement. At Benetech, Anh is responsible for leading Benetech Labs’ R&D work, engaging with communities, other technologists, and other non-profits around critical social issues to prototype new software solutions. Prior to Benetech, Anh led the development of a digital publishing platform for leading scientific and research publishers.
Joel Solomon is a highly experience social investor who has invested in over 100 early-growth stage companies in North America. Joel was instrumental in the development the Endswell Foundation, the largest, BC-based, charitable foundation in British Columbia funding environmental issues in the 1990s. Joel is currently Chair of Renewal Funds, Canada’s largest mission venture capital firm, with $98m assets under management. Joel is a Senior Advisor with RSF Social Finance, founding member of Social Venture Network, Business for Social Responsibility, the Tides Canada Foundation, and Board Chair of Hollyhock. He is co-author of the Clean Money Revolution, which will has now been published.
In this interview, Joel shares his perspective on the evolution of impact investing in the US, after years at the forefront front of social investment, and his experience building the Endswell Foundation. Joel discusses Renewal Funds investment strategy, what they are looking for in investee companies, and how they go about building a portfolio. He also provides advice for entrepreneurs that are looking to raise money for their business. Finally, Joel outlines some of the key ideas in his new book. Clean Money Revolution, and looks to the future of finance where profit & purpose are aligned. (An edited version of this interview has previously been posted to the Inspiring Social Entrepreneurs podcast series.)