On February 15, 2018, Social Innovation Forum (SIF) hosted a roundtable discussion on the challenges and opportunities of impact investment. I had the pleasure of wearing two hats – first, as an SIF board member and second, as the Chief Operating Officer of Sunwealth, one of the roundtable participants.
SIF has proudly been at the forefront of the local impact investing movement over the past five years. With its unique impact investment accelerator, roundtable events, and impact report, SIF has witnessed the local impact investment community evolve from its ambitious beginnings to a well-defined local community of investors, entrepreneurs, and social justice leaders.
It (impact investing) means squarely addressing complex social issues in measurable ways, aiming to tackle systemic changes in our economy, and doing so in ways that responsibly return capital to investors.
What we’ve seen emerge over the years – and what is so exciting – is the notion that impact investment means more than simply doing well by doing good. It means squarely addressing complex social issues in measurable ways, aiming to tackle systemic changes in our economy, and doing so in ways that responsibly return capital to investors.
Standing at the forefront of this impact investment movement is the Boston Impact Initiative (BII), another participant at the February 15 roundtable. As one of the pioneering impact investors in Boston, Deborah Frieze, Mark Watson, and the BII team have been using their capital to invest in a diverse and determined group of entrepreneurs addressing systemic change. That means investing in Fresh Food Generation, a roundtable participant and Dorchester-based farm-to-plate catering and food truck business that is tackling the food deserts found in many parts of Boston. And I’m grateful it means investing in Sunwealth, where BII’s investments have helped us tackle another desert – by funding solar projects for nonprofit organizations and houses of worship, which have been traditionally ignored by institutional capital, and thus left behind as we transition to a clean energy economy.
With leaders emerging and clear examples of the benefits of impact investment taking hold, the next challenge becomes strengthening the connectivity between investment capital seeking impact and impact entrepreneurs seeking capital. This is where SIF and its marketplace-based approach fits in.
SIF has been excited to take on a role as a marketplace-builder and convener for social impact work over the past 15 years, mainly focused on the nonprofit community and local social impact. Connected to that nonprofit work, is most definitely Boston’s impact investment community – shining a spotlight on the work of leaders like BII, Fresh Food Generation, and Sunwealth. Look for SIF to continue to hold impact focused events, foster dialogue, and make connections among those committed to the local community – making SIF, more than ever, deeply invested in impact and a key connector in this community.