harp-weaver is an independent philanthropic advisory firm based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Teresa Araco Rodgers, the principal, works with individuals and families to gift to issues that matter in a meaningful way.

Monday, January 31, 2011

"Productizing" Social Impact Investing

I have been researching and meeting with people involved in social impact investing and I am convinced that this emerging asset class is about to take-off. Social impact investing aims to solve social or environmental problems while generating financial profit. These investments in social enterprises come in many forms – but what has been typical is a private equity structure. The investments range from producing a return of principal capital to offering market-rate or even market-beating financial returns.

A growing number of individuals, families, foundations and pensions believe that the assets set aside for investment should be invested in such a way that supports and complements their philanthropic work and values.

There are organizations and companies in the field who are taking steps to add some infrastructure so that this investment opportunity can be more readily consumed.

Investors Circle is a network of social impact investors who collaborate on deals. They are making strides in adding some infrastructure to this growing segment of the market.

Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) is in the process of creating a data engine that contrasts - and quantifies - the tangible social benefits of these investing opportunities in addition to a more traditional benchmark to gauge financial return. The data engine is set to launch in February.

There is also BLab, which is a Philadelphia-based organization supporting the emergence of the B Corp - B stands for Benefit - this is a formal structure for a social enterprise.

In November of last year, JP Morgan, Rockefeller Foundation and GIIN produced a report called: Impact Investments: An emerging asset class. The report estimates significant market opportunity for impact investment over the next ten years. After analyzing selected segments of five sectors - urban affordable housing, rural access to clean water, maternal health, primary education, and microfinance - serving the population at the "base of the economic pyramid," the authors identify a potential profit opportunity between $183 and $667 billion and a potential investment opportunity between $400 billion and $1 trillion in the next decade for just these segments of the impact investing market.

This is real innovation in philanthropy and something to keep an eye on as the infrastructure continues to grow.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Next Billion

I love to explore. I love seeing where one Google search takes me. I love how watching one TED talk by the founder of the Acumen Fund, Jacqueline Novogratz, leads me to find NextBillion.net. In their words, Next Billion is a website and blog bringing together the community of business leaders, social entrepreneurs, NGOs, policy makers and academics who want to explore the connection between development and enterprise. It is a discussion forum, networking space and knowledge base for individuals and organizations interested in the "next billion". Their goal is to highlight the development and implementation of business strategies that open opportunities and improve the lives of the world's approximately 4 billion low-income producers and consumers.

Next Billion bases itself on creating business models that engage low income communities as producers and consumers. While development aid and political reform are essential components in poverty eradication, successful business models can sometimes tackle development challenges more quickly and effectively than government and aid mechanisms.

Next Billion uses the term BoP, an acronym for "base of the (economic) pyramid." This term was first introduced by Professors C.K. Prahalad and Stuart Hart in their 2002 article, "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid." It has come to designate not the poverty but the potential of the world's poorest citizens as entrepreneurs, employees and discerning consumers. It also refers to the approximately four billion people whose incomes are less than $3000 per year (PPP), based on analysis done at the World Resources Institute.

The site has a blog, research, news and career links all related to this idea of
bringing smart enterprise to low income communities so that they become self-sustaining. I have tagged this site on delicious and am following it on LinkedIn and Twitter. Seems like a great resource.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Night Out With Meaning: Women & Giving

I am thrilled to talk about and promote Night Out With Meaning: Women & Giving; a series of evenings for women to be inspired by the stories of women.

Held at The Philadelphia Cricket Club in February, May and November, each Night Out With Meaning focuses on a topic and features a wonderful storyteller. Night Out With Meaning is for women to connect with others, to learn from extraordinary women through their stories, and to find meaning in personal giving.

Come to one or all of the Nights Out With Meaning and invite a friend so you can continue the conversation!

The second Night Out With Meaning will be held on February 10th at 6:30pm. The topic is "Buidling a Family." Sue Badeau joins as our storyteller. Sue has been working as a child welfare professional for over thirty years. Sue sees a world where every child, regardless of the circumstances or place of birth, race religion, ability or disability has an opportunity to grow strong, deep roots with a family.

The cost of Night Out With Meaning is $65 for dinner including two glasses of wine. To register and pay, go to the Night Out With Meaning page on the harp-weaver website.

Night Out With Meaning is hosted by harp-weaver the firm I recently founded to help individuals and families with their personal giving. I look forward to sharing the Night Out With Meaning with you!