Beginning this week, we are meeting with some of the most influential field-builders in the impact investing space. First up, we talk with Kevin Jones, the co-founder of two key impact investing organizations, Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) and Good Capital.
SOCAP is an annual event series that connects leading global innovators – investors, foundations, institutions, and social entrepreneurs – in an effort to build a market they describe as “at the intersection of money and meaning.” Good Capital is a venture capital firm that invests in both for-profit and not-for-profit social enterprises.
Jones has emerged over the years as one of the movement’s most passionate advocates and is working to build the infrastructure necessary to make this innovative form of investing sustainable.
1. How important are accelerators to the future of impact investing?
Accelerators are increasingly important to help entrepreneurs learn the skills, and make the connections, necessary to make their social enterprises both sound businesses that are investable, as well as helping to keep them focused on creating the greatest positive impact in the world.
2. How do you think “Impact Investing in Action” has helped to build the field?
Impact Investing in Action helped clarify the still-evolving ecosystem of syndication and fundraising for early-stage social enterprises. Practitioners learned valuable tips from each other over the course of the conference. Furthermore, investors had the opportunity to discover interesting businesses that they wanted to help reach the next stage of growth.
3. What are the main challenges facing impact investing?
Impact investing benefits from a huge and growing demand by investors to put their money where there is meaning as well as profits. The challenges involve the lack of a track record and financial exits for the enterprises, as well as fewer second-time, proven entrepreneurs who are ready to take their businesses to scale. Another issue involves investor uncertainty – how can investors effectively mix their demands for financial return and desire to make a difference in the world?
4. What does the future hold for the impact investing movement?
The needs of the world are growing, and public sector dollars to support, or create a safety net for, solving these problems are declining and will continue to decline. Philanthropy is learning how to come to the table to help early-stage innovation get off the ground. For-profit impact investment in positive social change is the only way to put our available resources to work to meet the world’s needs. I expect investors to come to understand how to put impact first in the key, catalytic, early-stage investing that will fuel this mix of a movement as an asset class.