Making Impact Investible: The Status of the Impact Investment Industry at the G8

This is the fifth in a series of posts on impact investing for MMI’s membership

In all the flurry of coverage from the G8 last month, you may have overlooked a small conference held the week before. As a part of its G8 presidency this year, the UK Government hosted the first G8 Social Impact Investment Forum to discuss the potential of social investment and bring together major players in the field from across the world. This small one-day event has some large implications for the future of impact investing.

The daylong forum included attendees and speakers from all members of the G8 countries, and encouraged collaboration during breakout sessions and networking events. The activities coincided with several major announcements, including the US Small Business Administration committing to increasing its impact investments by USD 70 million to USD 180 million. A group of almost 100 investors and impact investment industry leaders also announced their support of the G8’s commitment to impact investment, saying in a joint letter: “By creating an enabling policy environment, G8 countries can support promising innovations and help scale market based solutions across national borders. Collaboration amongst G8 governments will also help streamline efforts, enable cross-border capital flow, and avoid duplication as the nascent industry develops supportive infrastructure to help it grow into a global market.”

Coinciding with the day’s activities, Impact Economy and the UK Cabinet Office released the report “Status of the Social Impact Investing Market: A Primer” to conference attendees. The report, written by Impact Economy’s Founder and Global Managing Director Dr. Maximilian Martin, served as an introduction to forum attendees to help facilitate dialogue and knowledge sharing. It outlines the current landscape of the social impact investing market and the trends that are driving a shift towards sustainable capitalism: pent-up demand at the bottom of the pyramid, resource efficiency, and new approaches to the provision of public services. The report also outlines the characteristics of the different players in the industry - from philanthropic investors to early stage investors to the government. (You can read an extended version of this report on Impact Economy’s website.)

In his letter to the forum attendees, UK Prime Minister David Cameron noted:

“For centuries we have had investment markets to raise money for great business ideas and huge infrastructure projects. These transformed our economies. Now it is time to make investment markets help transform our societies—turning the guns of finance into innovative ways of tackling the most complex social problems and enabling our businesses to play a vital role in supporting individuals and their communities in a more effective and sustainable way.”

This forum, though small in scope, illustrates the growing interest in impact investment. The UK has set the global stage for impact investing, and now it is up to us to continue to drive momentum and further strengthen the industry.

Read Impact Economy’s extended report on the topic: “Making Impact Investible”.

Stay tuned for our next post on the “Learning from First Principles, Building the Transition Team”, a report on a gathering of leading thinkers and practitioners that were convened to help shape and advance the impact investment industry and sustainable value creation.

William Burckart is the Managing Director of Impact Economy (North America). Reach him by email at or on twitter at @impact_economy  

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