What is “Impact Investing”?

Impact Investing is a relatively new term used to describe philanthropy and charitable giving, but it implies that these projects require a return on the investment, although return requirements are much more lenient than what a typical financial investor would demand.  Here’ s a good New York Times article that delves into the topic at length:

More often, impact investing is described by what it is not. It does not work in the same way as socially responsible investing, which excludes areas a person does not want to invest in — like tobacco or guns — through a simple screening process. Impact investing focuses more on bringing about change — helping the working poor in India buy a home, for instance.

While most of the money is going into areas like helping to reduce poverty and improving the climate, it is not philanthropy. Investors expect at least a return of their capital with an adjustment for inflation and, in many cases, a lot more than that.

Continue reading….

Skoll Starts The Urgent Threats Fund, will be led by Dr. Larry Brilliant


Jeff Skoll, the first president of eBay, has donated $100 million to start a new foundation to address urgent threats like water shortages, pandemics and the Middle East conflict.

The organization, the Skoll Urgent Threats Fund, will be led by Dr. Larry Brilliant, the iconoclastic public health expert and technology entrepreneur who until February headed up Google’s philanthropic enterprise, google.org.

continue reading at NYT

The Portfolio Data Management System- A way to track and measure performance of social entrepreneurs

The Portfolio Data Management System (PDMS) will focus on so-called social entrepreneurs, or groups trying to bring about social change while also functioning like a business—in some cases even trying to make money. Some social enterprises are nonprofits, while others seek a return on investment.

The PDMS is to be unveiled at the Clinton Global Initiative Summit.  Link

EquityEdit- Innovating In Global Public Health

Glad to see good things coming out of the alma mater!

is a non-profit organization that partners with for-profit biomedical editing companies with the goal of generating funding global public health innovations. EquityEdit recruits and trains scientists from diverse backgrounds to edit and translate manuscripts written by researchers for whom English is a second language. A portion of the scientists’ compensation earned is donated to small, innovative, pro-poor global health organizations as a sustainable source of long-term financing. In addition, EquityEdit receives from it for-profit partners a percentage of the revenue from each order.

Financial Model

EquityEdit’s current beneficiary is Nyaya Health and their current for-profit partner is ProEdit Japan. Currently the editors are paid by ProEdit Japan and can donate anywhere from 0-100% of their compensation to Nyaya Health. Editors that are affiliated with Nyaya Health donate 100% of their income and those not affiliated donate about 5%. In addition, ProEdit Japan donates an additional percentage of the revenue of each order.

New Editors begin editing as junior editors and for the first three manuscripts are paired with a senior editor. For these three manuscripts, the compensation is provided as follows. The junior editor receives 20% of the compensation, the senior editor receive 70%, and 10% is donated to Nyaya Health. This training period represents about 10 hours of minimally compensated work for the junior editor. The system greatly decreases the risks inherent in providing a manuscript with a tight deadline to a new editor, and does so with no added cost to ProEdit Japan.

Approximately 40% of junior editors are hired within three manuscripts to become full “independent editors.” Independent editors complete orders on their own and receive full compensation at 100% (minus a donation percentage that they so choose). After some demonstration of competency, these editors can then advance further to become senior editors. Approximately 20% of all orders are performed within the junior-senior editing system; the remaining manuscripts are edited by independent editors. A typical independent editor will earn approximately $30-60 an hour, while a senior editor might earn $60-100 an hour. This is compensated on a per-word basis, so the hourly rate varies depending upon the speed of the editor.

Global Social Venture Competition Finals- Today

Global Social Venture Finals are today. Check out www.socialvc.net for details.

Here’s the page if you want to see the teams in the finals

Bio Power Technology- Prasetiya Mulya Business School, Indonesia

BioVolt- MIT Sloan School of Management

Build Your Own Village- Gordon Institute of Business Science, South Africa

Defen Safety Syringe- National Chengchi University, Taiwan

Fair Planet Brasil- ESSEC Business School, France

Greenlight Organic- University of California, Davis

Husk Power Systems- Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia

Market for Change- Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

MicroEnergy Credit Corporation- Columbia Business School

Wine with a Passion- Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Global Development Marketplace 2007- Now Blogged

Development Marketplace is a competitive grant program of the World Bank that funds creative, small-scale development projects that deliver results and have the potential to be expanded or replicated.

The Marketplace is currently underway (May 22-23 2007) but if you can’t attend, you can follow the new Development Marketplace blog.

The 2008 Social Capitalist Awards: Not Too Late To Sign Up!

“Registration is now open for the 5th annual Fast Company/Monitor Group Social Capitalist Awards, which identify and celebrate the top social entrepreneurs in the nation. This year, we’re introducing an experiment: we’re accepting applications from some for-profit businesses as well as non-profits. Registration takes two minutes; just go here before June 4.”

Read more here.

The Ultimate Resource- Free Markets – People Making Their Own Decisions

This is a day late but I just wanted to blog about this new series that aired yesterday night on HDNet.

Free Market incentives are spectacularly changing lives and entire economies over much of the world. In the last 25 years, hundreds of millions of people– 400 million in China alone– have climbed out of the dire poverty of living on less than $1 per day. It is the largest movement out of poverty in human history.

Yet, two thirds of the world’s population– four billion people– still does not have the tools to thrive in free markets. Forced to operate outside the rule of law, they have little education, no legal identity, no fungible property, no credit, no capital, and thus few ways to prosper.

However, when given the incentives and the tools, these people are proving they can apply their free choice, intelligence, imagination and spirit to dramatically advance their well-being and that of their families and communities.

The documentary features Muhammad Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, founded the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, Hernando de Soto, founder of The Institute for Liberty and Democracy in Peru, James Tooley, British professor of education policy, and Johan Norberg, Swedish author and scholar.

Thanks to the Marginal Revolution blog for putting this on our radar.

Socially Responsible Business Models

Another excellent piece for this weekend’s reading– Venturebeat, a blog about new technology ventures, publishes a piece on social capitalism, its two basic models, and why some companies are likely to succeed while others are not. The post is written by Jay Parkhill, who is an attorney that works in the technology sector. Keep in mind that most Venturebeat readers are technology investors so Jay is writing for that audience.

According to Jay, the two basic models are:

1. Companies that seek to do good by capitalizing on our existing shopping patterns. Example: Ethos water.

2. Businesses that encourage consumers to spend money in ways they would not otherwise in order to create a social and/or environmental impact. Example: Terrapass, Kiva.

Read the article for the complete analysis and the pros and cons of each model.

Acumen Fund In BusinessWeek

Check out this story in the current Businessweek on the Acumen Fund–
Designing Change: How venture philanthropy fund Acumen uses design thinking to help solve real-world problems

Here’s some text from an email by founder Jacqueline Novogratz:

We wanted to share with you an article on Acumen Fund that just appeared in BusinessWeek’s “Inside Innovation” supplement (the March 12 issue, now on newsstands). The story, an extension and update of what was featured in their online magazine last fall, is also up on their website – along with a few web-only features, including slide shows on our investment in drip irrigation and about the Acumen Fund Fellows.

We’re excited, of course, to be able to share the Acumen Fund message, but more so about the growing interest there seems to be in market-based models for addressing problems of poverty.