🎙 Ep 35 with the father of impact investing, Sir Ronald Cohen
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Ep 35 with Sir Ronald Cohen is live!
What I’m reading/listening to
What’s on tap
🎁 Today (Sept 4th) is your last day to enter to win a $500 gift pack
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✅ A copy of Moving Beyond Modern Portfolio Theory by Jon Lukomnik (Ep 33) and James Hawley.
✅A copy of Impact: Reshaping Capitalism to Drive Real Change by Sir Ronald Cohen.
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🎙 Ep 35 - Understanding the impact revolution with Sir Ronald Cohen
In a meeting hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation in Italy in 2007, the term impact investing was coined. Yet seven years prior to that, in 2001, Sir Ronald Cohen (just Ronald Cohen at the time) was requested by the UK Treasury to establish the Social Investment Task Force (SITF). The SITF was tasked with exploring the ways in which the UK could create wealth, spur economic growth, and improve the lives of its most vulnerable people at the same time. It was his work here where he and his colleagues developed much of their thinking on impact investing.
Only a year after establishing the SITF, Ronnie (as he prefers to be called) would become Sir Ronnie, not for his work in impact investing but for his three decades of work essentially bringing venture capital to the UK. Ronnie was only 26 years old when he co-founded Apax Partners, a private equity firm that would grow to manage $50B in assets with offices across the globe.
By 2013, then Prime Minister David Cameron asked Ronnie to lead the G8 Social Investment Task Force (G8T) in order to "catalyze a global market in social impact investment." Not long after that he was then asked by the British Government to lead an effort to expand the G8T further globally and resulted in him establishing The Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG) in 2015.
During this time, Sir Ronnie also contributed to creating the world's first Social Impact Bond which aimed to reduce recidivism rates at the Peterborough Penitentiary in the UK. He and his colleague's findings on SIBs were articulated in a now-famous report "Impact Investment: The Invisible Heart of the Markets" which kicked off a movement to spread the idea of impact investing across the world.
All of that amounts to one hell of an impressive career by any standard but especially for a refugee who fled Egypt as a result of the Suez Crisis in the 1950s. At 11 yrs old, Ronnie and his parents arrived in the UK with just a single suitcase each and Ronnie clutching his precious stamp collection in his arms. Therefore, it is my great honour to welcome Sir Ronald Cohen to the podcast.
Sir Ronald Cohen, Impact: Reshaping Capitalism to Drive Real Change (Ebury Press, November 3, 2020)
Harvard's Impact-Weighted Accounts Initiative
Yuka mobile app (deciphers product labels and analyzes the health impact of food products & cosmetics)
Episode 5 of this podcast where we discuss: "Following the birth of the Social Impact Bonds"
📰What I’m reading
THE SERVICEBERRY: An Economy of Abundance (Robin Wall Kimmerer, Emergence Magazine)
In this article, Robin Wall Kimmerer (author of the incredible book Braiding Sweet Grass) considers the ethic of reciprocity that lies at the heart of the gift economy. How, she asks, can we learn from Indigenous wisdom and ecological systems to reimagine currencies of exchange?
The Secret Diary of a ‘Sustainable Investor’ — Part 3 (Tariq Fancy, Medium)
This is the third installment of a 3-part essay by Tariq Fancy. Tariq is the former head of sustainable investing at BlackRock and has been on a very deliberate PR campaign critiquing the field of ESG and responsible investing.
Social Impact Guarantees: The Next Evolution in Outcomes-Based Funding (Kevin Tan, Nadia A. Samdin & Pierre Lorinet, SSIR)
This is an interesting approach intended to help reduce the barriers and friction preventing more dollars flowing to outcomes-based funding vehicles like the Social Impact Bond and Development Impact Bond. The mechanics of a Social Impact Guarantee (SIG) is designed to operate more like a traditional grant (which Governments and the non-profit industry are used to) except have a built in impact guarantee that is paid back to the funder if the impact targets are not achieved so that the funder can use the money to try again.
Attitudes towards sustainable investing are changing in Asia, family office leaders say (Chad Bray, Yahoo Finance)
The rise of 3-D printed houses (The Economist)
📆What’s on tap?
Here’s what is coming up on The Impact Investing Podcast:
🎙 Upcoming Podcast Episodes
Elizabeth Freele of Sympact (a think-tank and hands-on consultancy) joins me to discuss the opportunities for impact in the mining industry. This is an industry that many impact investors tend to opt out of entirely. But as Liz points out, the world can’t do without mining in the foreseeable future, so we need to engage these firms and direct capital to finding ways to mine more sustainably.
Farahnaz Karim of Insaan Group (a boutique impact investment entity that allocates philanthropic capital to tackle poverty in the Global South) to discuss their work in catalytic philanthropy. The organization does this by using donations to invest in early-stage ventures that create employment and/or deliver a product or service relevant to the poor. It then re-invests all revenues from these investments in new ventures.