How do we make this happen?
At the forefront must be the fundamental desire to make change happen. This means that collectively (investors, NGOs, enterprises, educators and development funders) want to build greater understanding for the role of social enterprise and impact investment. If we are all to become actors within an environment that is able to support sustainable growth, there must first be a way to unify our aims.
Trust can be built between stakeholders by using the kind of digital or online infrastructure the Challenges Group is able to offer through its marketplace technology (evidencing the importance business interaction even at micro level).
The kind of evidence that is built over time by tracking enterprises and investment performance, is driven by regular monthly reporting. Enterprises report on traditional financial key performance indicators (KPIs), but also identify socio economic ones - (as defined for example by IRIS).
These might include training opportunities, number of marginalised suppliers etc., whilst recording the number of women owned companies or the impact of all this on employment and community growth. These value-added metrics are able to show the difference between the return on investment (ROI) in terms of impact investment versus the more traditional investor driven ROI measures.
Technology must be part of this, with engaged individuals at the heart of driving the narrative and the evidence that proves development. Transparency means that if an enterprise that has been invested in is struggling, intervention comes before it is at crisis point. Ongoing collaboration also means opportunities might emerge that had not been thought of in the past.
Education - of both investors and those looking for investment - is important in narrowing the gap. Very often investors are not aware of the social impact looking at things slightly differently can have. The language of investment is very different to the language of entrepreneurs, even though both desire the same outcome – sustainable profitability. By creating a digital frontline infrastructure that looks at bridging understanding through evidence and regular reporting, investors can be educated in what they should be looking for also.