Investing in a business is one thing; but to invest in a company that is socially conscious––while still making a profit––is another. This impact investing is on the rise here and across the country, and since 2015, ImpactPHL has been spreading the word about how it could change our city. Their message: Business is the most powerful tool we have in improving the world.
“Sometimes it’s easier to invest halfway around the world…or to just throw your money at whatever makes the most return,” says Cory Donovan, a program manager at ImpactPHL. “But what if we were to invest our assets within 50 miles of where we live? What if we were to put our money to work in ways that are more than financial in nature? Imagine what Philadelphia would look like then.”
The moment for impact investing has clearly arrived. Last year, private equity group TPG raised $2 billion for Rise Fund from the likes of Bono and Jeff Skoll to invest in companies that seek to create “meaningful positive change” in social and environmental issues, while also turning a profit. Bill and Melinda Gates have started investing in companies with a purpose beyond profit. And—most recently—Larry Fink of giant money manager BlackRock inferred publicly that he will pull his company’s investments from businesses that don’t practice social responsibility.
Locally, Philadelphia already gets that: We were the first city in the country to offer special tax credits for sustainable business, and are the home of the B Corp movement, which recognizes socially or environmentally responsible businesses––of which there are more than 50 in Philadelphia. But there is more to be done.
This month, ImpactPHL, alongside SOCAP 365, a national networking organization that preaches the intersection of money and meaning, will be hosting Building a Successful Investor Ecosystem for 21st Century Philadelphia. The goal of this panel is to discuss the potential and importance of impact investment.
But ImapctPHL wants this event to be about more than theory. It is also an opportunity to educate investment advisors on how to invest in an impactful manner, such as putting money into startups that are socially or environmentally conscious, or through socially-conscious projects in the ever-developing real estate industry in Philadelphia.
ImpactPHL also wants to set up those who invest with opportunities. Although they cannot recommend companies for ethical reasons, they will be connecting investors with organizations who can, such as The Reinvestment Fund, PIDC, LISC and others.
Donovan said that there is nothing new about impact investment––it’s been around for quite some time. In fact, he says that “it’s kind of a no-brainer.” But as social and environmental problems become more prominent, the notion that government or non-profits have the answer isn’t going to cut it anymore. We need new solutions—like impact investment.
“The way we see it, Philadelphia, like most big cities, has its issues and challenges, whether it be poverty, homelessness, environmental issues or whatever,” Donovan says. “But if the people that live in Philadelphia applied an impact investment lens to what they are doing, we can tackle many, if not all of these issues that affect the place we live.”
Wednesday, March 14, 6 pm-8 pm, $15, WHYY, 150 North 6th St.Photo: brigitsnow via Pixabay