Exciting news! Beginning tomorrow, I’ll be in London attending the G8 Social Impact Investment forum. The purpose of the forum is to bring a heightened focus to current and emerging trends when it comes to ‘impact investing’, as a companion to the annual gathering of G8 Leaders. I’ll be joined by a number of Canadian colleagues in an exhilarating day of announcements, panels, discussions, and networking with stakeholders and experts from around the world.
The inspiration for the forum came from Prime Minister David Cameron who committed, as part of his G8 presidency, to help catalyze the social impact investment agenda. In much the same way that Prime Minister Stephen Harper used the 2010 G8 meetings in Canada to promote women’s and children’s health, Prime Minister Cameron is hoping to use this month’s meeting to turn the global spotlight on this important priority. In his own words: “I want to use our G8 presidency to push this agenda forward. We will work with other G8 nations to grow the social investment market and increase investment, allowing the best social innovations to spread and help tackle our shared social and economic challenges.”
Those familiar with Grand Challenges Canada will know this is a passion I’ve long shared with Prime Minister Cameron. However, in my December 2012 white paper – Impact Investing for Global Health – From Why to How, I cautioned that the level of excitement of impact investing is approaching hype and creating unreasonable expectations. My view then – and still today – is that we would be wise to temper expectations as we move the field forward. In my opinion, we need to stop talking about WHY impact investing has the potential to address challenges and focus on HOW we implement and realize this critical area of priority. I believe we need to test tools to tap into the growing number of investors who are searching and yearning for “blended value;” that is, both social and financial opportunities. Since December 2012, Canada has been focused on the ‘how’ and we have a great opportunity to showcase both our international development and domestic advances in the area of social impact investing on June 6.
Grand Challenges Canada is actively involved in impact investing through global funds and through the active testing of impact investment approaches, to enable the scaling of our internal pipeline of 300+ innovations by leveraging the expertise/knowledge of the private sector and their capital. We are also involved in the area of pay on results and development impact bonds. Our ultimate focus is on scaling impact in a sustainable manner and our early experience with impact investing may be illustrative for others on June 6. One of the sessions will examine the potential for social impact investing in international development, to encourage private capital into developing countries, working towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. I look forward to discussing our progress and lessons learned.
Canadians can also be proud of our domestic efforts through the leadership of Minister Finley and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with Siobhan Harty, Director General of Social Policy at HRSDC – a domestic leader for Canada – to hear about the fascinating advancements in this area. The Centre for Impact Investing, led by Ted Anderson, is also an important catalyzer in Canada and there will be more to come as the field advances.
Over the past six months, there has been increased action in the area of social impact investing. This is exciting and at the G8 forum I will still argue for more ‘how’ then ‘why’. I also look forward to the opportunity to showcase these early advancements and I hope the discussions move towards lessons learned and the sharing of experiences – both domestic and international.
This is part I of my G8 Impact Investing blog. I will provide my insights/perspectives on the event and I will also tweet throughout my stay in London. Please follow me @TaylorAndrew1 and #G8impinv #G8UK for updates and perspectives.