SocialFinance Round Up: Impact Investing Goes Mainstream in Canada

SocialFinance.ca produces a weekly round up featuring social finance related news, insights, job openings, and events. We source the content for these round ups from Twitter, an RSS reader, and directly from our community of social finance practitioners. Below is our round up for the week of January 30.

Last Week on SocialFinance.ca

Adam Spence published Today, Impact Investing Goes Mainstream in Canada on January 24, 2012

Trish Nixon published Davos 2012: Multi-Issue, Multi-Stakeholder Forum Fosters Social Innovation on January 25, 2012

Matt Black published (Crowd)funding Your Startup Social Enterprise on January 26, 2012

Nabeel Ahmed published Video: Update on Social Impact Bonds in Australia on January 27, 2012

Canadian and International News

In a landmark moment for impact investing in Canada, RBC announced a $20 million commitment to a new social and environmental initiative aimed at facilitating solutions to social and environmental problems. The initiative is composed of a new $10m capital fund (the RBC Impact Fund) to help finance projects by organizations and entrepreneurs with a social mission, and a $10m investment by the RBC Foundation of its own assets into SRI funds.

Adam Spence explained what this means for the social finance landscape in Canada at SocialFinance.ca.

A number of conversations at the World Economic Forum revolved around harnessing impact investing; Abigail Noble of the Schwab Foundation summarized them in the Huffington Post.

The World Economic Forum was also the venue of the launch of a new report by Credit Suisse and the Schwab Foundation entitled “Investing for Impact: How social entrepreneurship is redefining the meaning of return.” The report explores the opportunities and complexities of impact investing and profiles five social enterprises in the Schwab Foundation. SF.ca Writer Jocelyn Ling read the report and immediately developed some thoughts about next steps for the sector, including finding more evidence, sharing stories of failure, and developing a roadmap. Download report [PDF].

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change announced the publication of an online database under the Private Sector Initiative, featuring case studies of climate change adaptation activities undertaken by private companies.

A recent survey conducted by GlobeScan and SustainAbility (commissioned by the UN Environment Programme) found that financial short-termism is a significant barrier to corporate adoption of sustainability practices.

Oxfam and Symbiotics are launching a Small Enterprise Impact Investment Fund, which will invest in financial intermediaries with a mandate to support SMEs in Africa and Asia. The target size of the SEIIF is $100 million after three years, which will be invested in a portfolio of debt and equity instruments, targeting those with low risk, high impact profiles. The fund aims to create 100,000 jobs in its first five years.

Azure Partners, a Swiss company specializing in socially responsible investments, has launched the Azure Global Microfinance Fund, a microfinance-focused “fund of funds” that will accept investments from both private and institutional investors. Download the presentation [PDF].

The Unreasonable Institute has selected 46 Finalists who will compete to raise $10,000 in 50 days. The first 25 Finalists become Unreasonable Fellows and attend the 2012 Unreasonable Institute. Support them now on the Unreasonable Marketplace.

Learning and Best Practices

Kevin Starr, Managing Director of the Mulago Foundation, explains what the trouble of impact investing is and why his organization’s portfolio consists of 95% philanthropy.

Andrew Wolk, Founder and CEO of Root Cause, celebrates the social impact bond milestone in Massachusetts, pointing to the focus on the program model and benefits of information alignment, and looking forward to performance-based resource allocation.

Melanie Walker of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, writing in the Huffington Post, introduced the concept of ‘metafinance’, which refers to financial services that occupy the intermediary space between individual and large-scale municipal finance. Pooling the capacity of credit-worthy individuals and families into communal loans can help finance community infrastructure projects.

Carolina Miranda published a round up of articles on B Corps and Benefit Corporation legislation in Business2Community, including articles from Forbes and the Wall Street Journal. An interesting link was to the official B Corps website, who released their B Impact Assessment, B Report, and list of significant suppliers, stating “We Practice What We Preach”.

Robert Kropp reviews a new book demonstrating that sustainable investment in an era of growing resource scarcity yields significant opportunities for portfolio outperformance. Cary Krosinsky edited Evolutions in Sustainable Investing: Strategies, Funds and Thought Leadership, which features 38 eassays on socially responsible investing.

Helen Avery offers a preview of an upcoming Euromoney report on the emerging interest of high net worth individuals in impact investing.

Kim Wilson points out that for all the convenience of mobile money, its greatest example – M-PESA in Kenya – charges fairly high transation fees. The post is based on a study by Guy Stuart and Monique Cohen: The Role of M-PESA in the Lives of Low-Income People. Download report [PDF].

Yvonne Fischer examines the role of public administrators in driving social innovation in the form of “the impact economy”.

Scott Edward Walker describes the problems that are holding back the passage of the crowdfunding bill in the US Senate in Forbes.

Chris Prottas makes the case for secondary private markets as key to growth in impact investing.

Upcoming Events

Impact investing: Challenges and Opportunities
February 1, 2012, Network Orange (221 Yonge St.), Toronto

Latin American Impact Investment Forum: Business for Development
February 13-15, 2012, Merida, Yucatan

SROI Network International Conference
16th-17th February 2012, University of Potsdam, Campus Griebnitzsee, Germany

Microfinance Experts Speaker Series: Ann Miles
Thursday, February 16, 2012, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

Social Economy Centre Speakers’ Series: Rise Asset Development
February 22, 2012, Room 3-104, OISE (University of Toronto), 252 Bloor St. West, Toronto

SOCAP: Soul
March 3, 2012, Hub SOMA, San Francisco 

Powering deals with purpose – Partnering for Global Impact 2012
July 9-10, Lugano, Switzerland

Jobs

TORONTO+acumen is seeking passionate volunteers to fill the following positions on their Executive Committee:  (1) Co-Chair, Dignity in Focus,  (2) Managing Editor, TORONTO+acumen Blog, (3) Marketing and Communications Lead.  To apply, send a resume and a cover letter to info@torontoforacumen.com by 12pm on Monday, February 13th, 2012. Find out more here.

JP Morgan is looking for a Social Finance Research, Structuring & Placements Analyst or Associate based in London.

Did we miss any news, insights, or events? Use the comment form below to add to this round up.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/benimoto/603815615/

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