45 impact investors, researchers and others recently met to discuss the role of philanthropy and foundations in creating an “impact economy”. According to the report, creating such a business paradigm requires that philanthropies step up their game. The reason: a paucity of early-stage and seed capital, a gap philanthropies could play a major role in filling. That, in turn, could help attract other funding.
Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians and the University City Science Center have partnered to launch the Global Startup Accelerator - a six-month program for early-stage tech startups that have an interest in entering international markets. Participants receive: Insight into business and business growth opportunities in the European market; Access to VCs and potential funding sources; Direct connections to mentors, partners and customers; and the opportunity to pitch European partners at the BIO International Convention in Philadelphia on June 3-6, 2019.
Help shine the spotlight on and give some deserved recognition to social changemakers in your community! The Social Innovations Journal is looking for publicly nominated movers and shakers in the Greater Philadelphia Area that have shown great leadership and creativity in helping to solve the challenges that our community faces on a daily basis. The theme of this year’s awards "Innovating Ideas, Revolutionizing Realities," expresses the idea that the SIJ is looking for some out of the box approaches to these challenges. If you know someone or a group that embodies that vision, please nominate them today. Nominations are due by October 5th so don’t delay!
What comes after innovation? As CEO of Benjamin Franklin Technology Partners, an organization charged with catalyzing the Philadelphia region's entrepreneurial and innovation economy, I've struggled with this question. It was 2001 when I began to follow the emerging national narrative around impact, marked by Harvard Business Review's January 2001 issue: Ideas with Impact - an issue I still have to this day. In it, an article by Charles Handy entitled "Tocqueville Revisited: The Meaning of American Prosperity." revisits Tocqueville's journey, but focuses on capitalism instead of democracy. Handy writes of the need for "new capitalism" and discusses American Nobel Prize Winner Robert Fogel's optimism that "a new sense of purpose…will be at the heart of the next stage of capitalism." The idea resonated with me then and stayed with me over time.
Out of step with the rest of America and its own suburbs, Philadelphia has remained stubbornly mired in poverty while its median household income has plummeted, a stunning development that puzzles experts and belies the city’s self-styled image as a revitalized metropolis on the rise. Two reports from the U.S. Census Bureau released recently show that as poverty has declined and income has increased nationwide, Philadelphia’s poverty rate remained stuck at around 25%.
Is it enough for a business to try to do good? Or, should we also be demanding that businesses do no harm? At stake in the answer is the future of the American workforce—and, perhaps, America itself. This is the issue bestselling author Anand Giridharadas and B Lab’s co-founder Jay Coen Gilbert debated on Thursday night, at The Citizen’s sold-out event. If you weren’t there, you can listen to a recording of the discussion.
After launching a $36 million fund earlier this year to help support black female founders, Backstage Capital announced it was launching accelerators in four cities including Philadelphia, which served as location inspiration for the effort. "When Philadelphia is thinking about what it means to become a tech city, it’s not about 'how do we retrofit this Silicon Valley model, but more so how do we use technology to do what Philadelphia does best,' said Aniyia Williams of Tinsel and Black & Brown Founders, who was onstage with Hamilton."
Supporting locally owned and operated businesses does more than just patronize that specific establishment, but can have a much wider effect in local neighborhoods. This is know as the “local multiplying effect” and Anna Shipp of the Philadelphia Business journal posits that this local-first attitude could be the method by which Philadelphia rises the ranks of wealthy major cities.
Although community development finance has primarily built its foundation around real estate investing, we have learned that in a city like Philadelphia, neighborhood revitalization does not always empower local residents to move up the economic ladder but can often lead to displacement through gentrification. An impact economy requires both growth AND mobility, and thus, our strategies must include a focus on both improving places AND empowering people. To this goal, an effective impact capital strategy is about more than just building and investing financial and physical capital. We should also consider how we build and invest in human and social capital in our city.
Before a problem can be fixed, it must first be diagnosed. When it comes to grappling with racial and gender diversity in the tech industry, the roadmap to getting Philadelphia’s startups looking more like the city they’re in starts by knowing where the community stands. In a bid to help orient diversity, equity and inclusion discussions in the city, a coalition of stakeholders just launched a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Benchmark Survey, which seeks to gather data to help inform the path to bridging inequities in Philly’s expanding tech economy.
In this report, The Urban Institute identifies and classifies some of the collaborative efforts, including ImpactPHL, that are taking shape to better understand the complexities of collaborative place-based impact investing. It is important to emphasize that collaborative place-based impact investing, is a nascent practice. It represents an innovation in impact investing and in philanthropic practice. Although in some cases the type of capital deployment that results from these initiatives may not look new on the surface, the processes of collective thinking, resource-sharing, and alignment around a common goal is very new work for many of the partners around their investments strategies, and the innovativeness of this move toward collaboration in this space should not be discounted. Further, the work that was captured in the interviews for this study is dynamic and continues to change and develop.
The third annual SustainPHL awards were hosted on August 16th, and highlighted a dais of speakers and awardees that were as diverse as the city it celebrates. The awards show from consulting company and blog Green Philly highlighted community impact leaders, social enterprises, civic orgs and nonprofits for their impactful sustainability efforts.
When the Philadelphia-based impact collaborative ImpactPHL decided to create a program aimed at bringing together impact investing leadership throughout the region, organizers expected the initiative would launch with no more than a handful of participants. “We were targeting six to eight organizations,” ImpactPHL chairman John Moore said of the Leaders program. “We ended up with 20.” In fact, the program now has 22 participants, with the possibility of more organizations being added in 2018.
The Good Capital Project, in collaboration with the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, has announced that applications are now open for the Total Impact Portfolio Challenge. The Challenge is an annual competition to equip students with the knowledge and practical skills to design and execute 100% impact portfolios. Get your applications in today and get impact investing!
The Points of Light Civic Accelerator for startups is officially coming to Philadelphia. The accelerator is focused primariliy on ‘financial resilience’ and is currently looking for social enterprises to join its November cohort. The application deadline is August 24th.
IC-SVN seeks nominations for its Beyond the Pitch event at this year’s conference in Brooklyn on Nov 2. This is an opporutnity for impact entrepreneurs from around the country to pitch IC-SVN's network of impact investors. The deadline for pitch applications for this year’s national pitch event is August 31st.
For the first time at the PACT Capital Conference, there will be a track specifically for impact-driven ventures. The PACT Capital Conference is the longest running and largest venture conference on the East Coast and has hosted countless top entrepreneurs, companies and investors during its 25 year run. Applications to participate in the event are due by August 3rd
To date, many innovative education technology products and services have not been adopted by schools or have failed to achieve scale. One reason for this lack of adoption and implementation is the disconnect that often exists between educators and entrepreneurs. Practitioners often receive inadequate information about new tools and their capacity to enhance instruction, which further impedes implementation. In addition, the limited amount of time and resources that most practitioners encounter on a daily basis, including insufficient professional development on how to use new technologies, further impedes adoption rates.
On Wednesday July 11th, The Philadelphia Citizen and ImpactPHL hosted a panel discussion featuring four experts, who are proving that doing well and doing good can go hand in hand. Over 150 people attended the event, but if you couldn’t, you can listen to the thought-provoking discourse on The Citizen’s website.
Nuveen's "Third Annual Responsible Investing Survey" found that interest in socially responsible investing is rising among investors yet only 22% of financial advisors said they were offering responsible investing options.
This episode of SOCAP’s podcast series “Money + Meaning” was recorded in Philadelphia and features a panel of experts to discuss Philadelphia as an example of a city that is bringing together a spectrum of investors with local government allies, entrepreneurs, and community members to tackle systemic problems facing the city. They point to a set of opportunities to build the field of impact investing in Philadelphia and across the US.
Many who hear “Habitat for Humanity” have some familiarity with Habitat for Humanity's affordable housing work, the phrase “a hand up, not a handout,” and President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter's the tireless commitment to the organization over years. However, few are aware of our furniture and home goods social enterprise, ReStore, that infuses dollars into our Homeownership and Home Repair Programs - two programs that provide affordable payment options, sweat equity, and volunteer labor opportunities for low-income populations that have housing needs in Philadelphia.
This week, B Lab released its 2018 list of the B Corps that is considers “Best for the World” in six categories: Community, Customers, Environment, Workers, Governance and Overall. The annual list of top B Corps includes familiar names such as Solar States, Azavea and Communally.
In just one year, the estimated value of the impact-investing sector has roughly doubled. There are now $228 billion in assets under management, according to a recent survey from the Global Impact Investing Network. Will this trend continue on it’s steep slope upward?
Larger organizations that have social impact goals have long since had the resources and access to tools to help them along their journy towards greater impact. However small and medium sized businesses with the same social inclinations have not historically had access to them. That is until organizations in Philadelphia and New York started providing those tools to these business so that they too can monitor and extend the impact which they are able to have on their communities. One of those tools, the Best for PHL assessment as provided by ImpactPHL, attempts to provide these entities with more knowledge and more power to achieve their social goals.
The impact investment industry is growing rapidly, a fact that many of us in the field celebrate. In 2010, J.P Morgan projected up to $1T in investment would be deployed this decade — which would make impact investing twice the size of official development aid to the world’s less develop countries (as defined by the United Nations), presuming historic levels of aid stayed constant since 2010. Many of us are starting to envision a day where we can drop the “impact” moniker and just assume that investments take into account social and environmental factors. But are we scaling the right model? How do we make sure that the blossoming impact investment movement — especially as it starts to supplant traditional aid — actually leads to improvements in outcomes for the people and communities it is supposed to benefit?
The integration of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into the institutional investment analysis and decision-making process is a mega-trend that investors can no longer ignore, says Emily Chew, global head of Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance Research and Integration at Manulife Asset Management. Speaking at the 71st CFA Institute Annual Conference in Hong Kong, Chew noted that there is a mindshift taking place in the financial industry that has both asset owners and managers increasingly treating ESG investing as part of their fiduciary duty. Further, clients are also demanding responsible investing, seeing it not only as a means of doing good, but also as a way to increase portfolio returns and manage risk.
At the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, we focus on how businesses and finance can be leveraged to drive inclusive economic development. Over the last decade, we have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of investors seeking to achieve financial returns as well as measurable social or environmental impact across their investable assets. This approach to investment – generally known as “impact investing” – takes many forms across asset classes, impact sectors, industries, and geographies. And, the growth in impact investing is leading to a range of partnerships, approaches, and funding strategies.
At the Total Impact Conference in late April, The Philadelphia Foundation and Reinvestment Fund announced a joint initiative named PhilaImpact Fund. This impact investing vehicle will allow each organization’s investors to fund development projects in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. The PhilaImpact Fund connects investors, philanthropists and engaged citizens with the projects, initiatives and big ideas that generate results on a local level.
The Philadelphia Foundation and Reinvestment Fund announced the launch of PhilaImpactFund, a new place-based impact investment opportunity targeted to the Greater Philadelphia region. The Fund is believed to be a first-of-its-kind collaboration between a community foundation, The Philadelphia Foundation, and an asset manager that also originates community development loans, Reinvestment Fund. This exciting new development offers an opportunity for investors to channel their capital into neighborhood development projects that support regional growth and local initiatives in the communities that need them the most.