“Every investment is an impact investment.”
“The Millennial generation is transforming investment, and capitalism itself.”
“Impact investing can deliver competitive returns – but it mustn’t overlook social impact.”
Go to enough impact investing conferences, and you’ll hear variations on these themes (and a few others) more times than you can count. So when I went to The Economist’s event on “Mainstreaming Purpose-Driven Finance,” I was listening for something new. And to a surprising extent, the conference delivered.
START EARLY FOR IMPACT
Pfund, who made a name for herself as an early investor in Tesla, among other accomplishments, said early-stage investing is a great approach if you’re focused on impact. It’s in venture capital that you can really shape an investee’s culture, she said, fusing a social impact focus into a company’s DNA from the start.
KNOW WHEN TO FOLD ’EM
In spite of the focus on how investors can influence companies to embrace impact, the opening panel had few illusions about the limitations of this approach. As Blood pointed out, some businesses are able to change and improve their social impact – but others are not, and engaging with them is waste of time. Pfund put it more succinctly: “It’s hard to work to prevent diabetes when your business is selling insulin.”
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