Two Weeks to Go and Acumen Explore Investing in Impact

By Dr. Ambika Sampat, Business Development Manager, Acumen

Business Fights Poverty’s flagship Oxford conference takes place on 18th July, with just two weeks to go we are pleased to introduce Acumen as our partners leading the Impact Investing zone.

Acumen was founded in 2001 with the mission of changing the way the world tackles poverty. Our model: To raise philanthropy and invest it for up to a decade, sometimes more, in intrepid entrepreneurs building businesses to serve the poor; Early-stage companies at critical moments in their evolution, because that’s where capital is most scarce.

Acumen has been an early pioneer in shaping the impact investing industry, and almost two decades into the creation of this formal sector the market has rapidly evolved with an increasing number of vehicles now involved. A wide array of investors provides a spectrum of risk-return and impact expectations that meet the needs of different investees. Some investment opportunities have high potential for positive impact, but are perceived as too risky for certain investors. Given the industry’s diversity, there is opportunity for investors with varying return expectations and risk tolerances to complement each other using different types of capital.

In our first session expert panellists will share their perspective on the types of capital available for entrepreneurs in the impact investing sector – beyond the stereotypical wealthy individuals and the importance of each in building a sustainable ecosystem.

In the second session, we will look at what ‘impact’ in impact investing really means. A key differentiator of impact investing from other investment strategies is the commitment of the investor to measure and report on the social and/or environmental performance of their investments. The term ‘impact’ is a tricky one though, often meaning different things to different people. As the impact investing industry has matured, so too has impact measurement and management. A 2017 GIIN Impact Investing Survey reported that of their 208 respondents, 50% target both social and environmental impact objectives, while another 41% primarily target social impact objectives, and 9% primarily target environmental impact objectives. Learn more about award-winning Lean Data, hear from the investment managers, measurers and thought leaders.

The evolutionary impact journey will be discussed during this second session, which will be followed by a panel discussion with sector experts who will share insights into what impact means to them, a spectrum of tools & frameworks commonly used to measure impact, and how impact findings can be used to hold stakeholders accountable to their mission.

If you’re already in impact investing – be that corporate, institutional or individual, thinking about it, an entrepreneur, or just interested in learning more, we will aim to delve deeper into the tough questions presented by the impact investing industry and offer insights based our own failures, lessons learnt and successes. By integrating forces with key partners and players in every sector and operating across multiple levels of scale, we can work smarter, not just harder. At every step, we aim to push thinking, drive conversations, find creative solutions, create tipping points and forge connections to bring forth bigger, more transformative change. After 17 years of investing in companies, leaders and ideas, we believe our role is more important than ever. If we are to build a world based on dignity where all people have the same opportunity, a real shift needs to take place. We need new systems that put people at the centre and bring all players into the fold. Now is the moment to move these ideas into action. Join us.

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