In an article published in the latest Social Innovations Journal, I briefly reflected on the status of the impact investing industry in relation to the 2009 Monitor Institute report, “Investing for Social and Environmental Impact: A Design for Catalyzing an Emerging Industry.” The report did an excellent job of assessing the industry at that time. It described it as moving from “uncoordinated innovation” into “marketplace building” and suggested that targeted infrastructure investments could help the industry progress to the “value capture” stage in five to ten years.
There are indications that indeed we are progressing through the “marketplace building” stage, with signs of “value capture” emerging – mainstream entrants, higher volumes of activity, and increasing specialization. What does this mean for Investors’ Circle? As we look toward our 25th anniversary year in 2017, we have been considering our role. How do we best fulfill our mission – to promote the transition to a sustainable economy by increasing the flow of capital to enterprises that are addressing social and environmental challenges – in this rapidly evolving industry?
Over the last five years, Investors’ Circle has been responsive to this growing marketplace by cultivating deeper local engagement where there is critical mass and support, increasing the number of local networks from two to six. We have shifted to a more streamlined event model and increased the efficiency of all of our systems. We have learned a lot along the way about supporting both investors and entrepreneurs and building a real community as we have engaged with partners and projects. We just passed several notable thresholds – over $200 million invested in 300+ impact enterprises, and our local networks have become as significant a driver of investment as our national events.
With a solid yet nimble infrastructure in place, we are poised to increase the sophistication, depth, and value of our community’s early stage impact investing support. We were excited to preview our vision of collaborative capital and an announcement of a significant gift to seed this vision last month at SOCAP, and in the coming months we will be engaging you, our membership, in this vision. Please watch for and take advantage of opportunities to share your ideas and feedback for your Investors’ Circle community!