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Podcast: The Evolution of Impact Investing and Social Enterprise Funding

2017 Fellow Derrick Braziel, co-founder of MORTAR, addressing students during one of MORTAR’s Business Academy classes. Photo courtesy of MORTAR.

Although the practice of making positive change through socially-conscious investments is not new, the term ‘impact investing’ first appeared around 2007. In the years since, the term has gone from buzzword to a burgeoning field, with impact investing operating as a crucial part of the world’s social impact ecosystem. Fergal Byrne, host of Financing Social Entrepreneurs, is exploring what trends and opportunities are influencing impact investing today. To learn more, he interviewed four experts in the field to discuss new ventures investors are funding, perspectives from the forefront of impact investing’s evolution, and how a commitment to directing $1 billion to mission-driven investments will influence the field. Read on for takeaways and links to the episodes:


Episode 9: Startup Funding for Media and Tech Ventures Dedicated to Progressive Change

“Every investment has an impact. Eventually all investing will be impact investing as we recognize all of the costs of the investments that we make. ” — Christie George, New Media Ventures

As director of New Media Ventures, Christie has managed a growing portfolio of more than 40 nonprofits and for-profit organizations, including NationalField, Sum of Us, and Upworthy. New Media Ventures is the first seed fund and national network of angel investors that focuses its support on media and tech startups that disrupt politics and catalyze progressive change. The company makes social impact investments in for-profit companies and also provides nonprofit grants (Echoing Green Fellows Jess Kutch, Michelle Miller, Samuel Sinyangwe, and Darrell Scott are investees). In this interview, listen to Christie insights into the growing sector of political and media impact investing.


Episode 10: What 35 Years in Social Impact Investing Looks Like

“When I started 35 years ago, you might as well have said ‘I’m going to throw money into the ocean.’ It was considered silly and not reputable. Well, that’s now changed.” — Joel Solomon, Renewal Funds

Joel Solomon is the president and chairman of Renewal Funds, Canada’s largest mission venture capital firm. He is also the co-author of the Clean Money Revolution, a senior advisor with RSF Social Finance, board chair of Hollyhock, and a founding member of Social Venture Network, Business for Social Responsibility, and the Tides Canada Foundation. Hear Joel’s perspective on how impact investing has evolved in the United States, what Renewal Funds looks for when making social impact investments, and what advice he gives to entrepreneurs seeking for-profit or nonprofit funding.


Episode 11: The Next Decade of Impact Investing

“The third piece, which is really important to us within our entire impact investing work, is supporting the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion not only in our investment strategy, but as we think about our grantmaking work.” — Christine Looney, Ford Foundation

In April 2017, the Ford Foundation announced its commitment of up to $1 billion from its $12 billion endowment over 10 years to mission-related investments. In this episode, Christine Looney and Graham MacMillan, members of the Ford Foundation’s Inclusive Economies team, discuss the foundation’s long-standing commitment to impact investing. Tune in to their discussion on the specific social and financial goals of this impact investment initiative, how the foundation hopes to encourage other foundations and institutional investors to consider this kind of impact investing, and the work that the foundation is doing to build market infrastructure for impact investment.

Visit the Financing Social Entrepreneurs podcast page.

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