Tuesday, 15 May 2018 16:26

What is impact investing? And how do I find out more?

Ākina Foundation project manager Julie Prestel Ākina Foundation project manager Julie Prestel Photo/supplied

Next week Techweek Tauranga will host a discussion about impact investing - what it is and how we can use it to create change in our communities. We asked Ākina Foundation project manager Julie Prestel to tell us more...

“Impact investments are investments made into organisations and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact, alongside a financial return" - Global Impact Investing Network

Around the world, impact investing is attracting individuals, philanthropists, institutions and governments, and providing a broader range of financing options to startups and social enterprises.

Impact investments cover all asset classes, different sectors and exist globally. Unlike grants, impact investments are expected to generate a financial return, while also having a positive effect environmentally and/or socially. This differentiates impact investments from responsible investments, which simply seek to avoid doing harm.

Ākina Foundation is focused on growing impact investing in New Zealand and helping social enterprises succeed. We believe social enterprise is a vehicle to build an economy that regenerates the environment and creates social foundations for communities to thrive. But social enterprises need capital to grow, so being an intermediary of impact investment is one way Ākina can help. Capital is central to success. Great people can be ready to dedicate themselves to great causes, but if the funds needed are not available, their goals might never be achieved.

There is an estimated $50 trillion funding gap in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Impact investing unlocks private funds to address critical global issues, such as poverty, hunger, climate action and clean water.

Some of the benefits of access to impact investment include a stronger market, positive impact on the environment and community, and an increase in scalable and investable business models.

Simply put, impact investment helps social enterprises grow and flourish, which creates greater impact across policy priorities, such as quality education, health and wellbeing, employment, the arts and sports, housing and environmental conservation.  One day, we might not call this approach impact investing. Hopefully, one day, we will simply call it investing. And our money will be spent on doing good.

Ākina Foundation has also been working with Venture Centre on capability development, both in terms of business and impact skills, because it gives social enterprises the tools to grow as well as improving access to the market.

Capability-building can include different types of support, such as legal, financial, advisory and marketing support. Building capability enables social enterprises to compete for procurement contracts and gain increased market access.

Similarly, capability-building can help social enterprises become impact investment-ready. This focus on capability building is why we’ve created the Leading Change event, with Venture Centre, as part of Techweek.

It’s being held at Basestation on May 25, and attendees will get an introduction to what impact investing actually is, how it differs to other types of investing. You can also hear about the first domestically-focused impact investment fund in New Zealand. An interactive panel of philanthropic funders and commercial investors will share different viewpoints and experiences, and we will hear from a tech social entrepreneur who will share his experiences around acquiring impact investments.

The session will also include a presentation from Loomio, a successful Kiwi social enterprise which has developed a global software app that helps people make decisions together. Loomio launched in 2013 and has raised $1 million in impact investment, in several forms, to enable customer and product development. They will share their journey as a social enterprise that has leveraged different types of funding/investment and what they’ve learned. This will be extremely valuable for investors and social enterprises considering impact investment.

After the presentations there will be a mini-expo where a selection of local social enterprises, at different stages, will share their products/services and journeys. This will be a great opportunity for investors, funders and others to learn about what they do, where they are at and what they need to succeed.

- Click here to read more about Loomio and its founder, Michael Elwood-Smith.

- Click here to read more and book your space at the Leading Change event during Techweek Tauranga.

Last modified on Wednesday, 27 June 2018 10:54

About

Instigator is a curated suite of programmes, events, and workshops designed by Venture Centre to support the digital and entrepreneurial capability of individuals and their communities. It exists to inspire and equip them with the skills, tools, mindset and connections they need to build impactful ventures and prosper.

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