Social Finance Round Up: Environmental Finance and Green Investing Pick Up Steam

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 February 6, 2012.

Last Week on SocialFinance.ca

Michele F. Gartner posted Social Enterprises Require the Build-to-Keep Crowd, Too on January 31, 2012.

Sherri Torjman published Get Real: Community Benefits Agreements in Practice on February 1, 2012.

Bree Gardner published Social Finance for Nonprofits: Why You Should Care on February 2, 2012.

Trish Nixon published Video: Jay Coen Gilbert on B Corps on February 3, 2012.

Canadian and International News

Applications for the new Masters in Environment and Business (MEB) at the University of Waterloo are still being accepted. The deadline for applying is March 31st. The new MEB program offered by the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED) is aimed at meeting the growing need for business sustainability professionals as a distinct group of knowledgeable, skilled, confident and motivated individuals with the information, tools and expertise to integrate environment with business in very practical ways. The MEB program will offer you a part-time program of studies offered through distance education courses with minimal on-campus study, and with course materials distributed over the Internet. For more information please see the brochure [PDF], visit the MEB website, or contact Linda Zepf, Graduate Administrator, SEED or Dr. Olaf Weber, Acting Director of MEB.

The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and the Canadian Business and Ethics Research Network (CBERN) have put out a call for papers for the Fifth Annual Academic Conference on Responsible Investment. The conference will be held at Schulich Business School in Toronto on October 1-3, 2012. The purpose of the 2012 Academic Conference is to develop our understanding of the complexity of institutions, organizations, strategies and processes that make up responsible investment. PRI and CBERN are currently inviting submissions for sessions on topics that address one or more of the following themes: investment strategies; shareholder engagement and collective action; public policy and regulation; organizations and organizational change; and market structures and systemic change.

Environmental Finance reports that the UK government has invested £110 million ($157 million) into two new International Finance Corporation (IFC) climate funds, aiming to leverage in at least £3 billion of private capital for green investments in developing countries. Alongside the UK investment, the IFC’s board has approved an investment of $75 million in its Climate Catalyst Fund. “We hope that the fund will help make the business case for these kinds of investments and encourage additional private sector investment into innovative climate projects,” said Lars Thunell, the IFC’s executive vice-president and CEO.

Cecilia Munoz and Robert Gordon announce the next stage of US federal government support for Pay for Success financing. The Department of Justice will give priority consideration to Second Chance Act (prisoner rehabilitation) grant applicants who use a Pay for Success model, and the Department of Labor will provide funding opportunities through the Workforce Innovation Fund (focusing on employment and training outcomes).

Reuters brings us news that India to launch a $1 billion innovation fund this summer to explore innovations that can generate services and products to uplift the poor.

The Government of Hong Kong plans to launch a new, three-year, $100 million microfinance scheme, it announced in the latest budget announcement.

The Asian Development Bank has raised $265 million from Japanese investors into its second water bond, according to Environmental Finance.

Social Finance Learning and Best Practices

J-Pal published a new collaborative and in-depth report on the decreased comparative value of individual loans versus group loans in microcredit, using randomised case studies in several Mongolian villages. The paper provides useful insight into the benefits and behaviours of group versus individual lending, finding that “joint liability may deter borrowers from using loans for non-investment purposes” and that there is “no significant difference in repayment rates between the two lending programmes”.

Rob Katz, Knowledge and Communications Associate at Acumen Fund, interviews Amit Bouri, Director of Strategy and Development for the GIIN. Amit offers valuable insight into the challenges and opportunities he sees across the impact investing industry.

Ben Powell, Founder and Managing Partner of Agora Partnerships, describes the different agendas of three key camps under the impact investing umbrella – impact-first investors, finance-first investors, and field builders – to help individuals navigate the complex conversations currently taking place around impact investing.

David Roodman from Foreign Policy delivers an insightful sober look in his article Think Again: Microfinance, dealing with the sweeping generalizations, assumptions and accusations commonly directed at microfinance.

The Good Generation has answers if you’ve ever wondered how, in six steps, you can create an impact investing career change-over. Step one: Find your opportunity.

Paul Herman, founder and CEO of HIP Investors, speaks about the different approaches being taken by new impact investors in a blogpost for the Wall Street Journal.

Upon receiving the J.C. Nichols Prize in Urban Development, His Highness the Aga Khan chose to highlight impact investing in his speech, focusing on property impact investing as a critical funding niche positioned between enterprise financing and development funding.

Charles Cameron of Social Edge thinks of WB Yeats’ poem The Second Coming in the context of a struggling global economy and the rise of a newer, better form of capitalism, economics, and social responsibility. He poses the question, is social enterprise the new centre of our economic system?

David Wolf of Outside Online explores how Wall Street can save the earth by integrating ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors. Using topical examples such as the fall of oil behemoth British Petroleum as an ‘environmental pick’, the article uses a number of examples to explain how this new approach can keep your stock profiles and values synonymous.

MS Sriram writes in Business Today that for-profit social enterprises in microfinance have much to learn from the success of non-profits based on modesty, image and scale. By citing the moral conundrums that for-profts can get themselves into, such as line skimming, growth obsessions and public reputation, he concludes that non-profit principles may help deal with the challenges facing microfinance organizations.

Jim Epstein and Alicia Epstein Korten from world.edu make a case for renaming ‘not-for-profit’ organisations as Common Good Enterprises, making the case that blended values, profitability and business can all stake claims in formerly ‘not-for-profit’ gatherings.

Rodney Schwartz thinks that social impact will emerge as the third dimension to all investments in the future (adding to financial return and risk). Join the conversation on SocialEdge.

Claude Gauthier, President of the Canadian Co-operative Association, looks forward to the International Year of Co-operatives, highlighting both short-term and long-term benefits.

Craig Cole highlights the benefits of savings-led microfinance, recently profiled in the Economist as well.

Cerilenne Mendoza looks forward to the upcoming Latin American Impact Investment Forum between February 13-15 in Merida, Mexico. (Also posted at NextBillion.)

Rolfe Larson published the State of the Social Enterprise Sector 2012 address, highlighting the growth of hybrid organizations and social capital markets as critical pieces of the puzzle.

Recent Discoveries

About Microfinance – an information hub for microfinance.

ChangeJars – allows customers to shop at retailers and dedicate a percentage of the sale price to non-profit organizations they support.

Upcoming Event

Good Partners: Freelancers United for A Greater Good
8 February, 2012, Center for Social Innovation Annex, 720 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON

Eugene Ellman on Green Investing
February 9, St. Catharines Centennial Library, St. Catharines, Ontario

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

Environmental Bonds 2012
February 15, 2012, Eversheds’ Office, London, United Kingdom

SROI Network International Conference

16th-17th February 2012, University of Potsdam, Campus Griebnitzsee, Germany

Webinar: Growing The Outcomes Finance Market: Challenges & Routes Forward
February 16, 2012, Online. 

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

World Water-Tech Investment Summit 2012
February 28-29, 2012, London, United Kingdom

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

Social Enterprise Dragons (Enterprising Non-Profits)
March 8, 2012, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC

100WHF-Stanford PACS Conference: Alpha & Altruism – Channeling the Power of Finance for Social Change
March 23, 2012, Boston Harbor Hotel, Boston, MA

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

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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