- Rosemary Addis Founder & Chair, Impact Investing Australia
- Jeff Shen CEO, Leping Social Enterpreneur Foundation
- Francis Ngai Founder & CEO, Social Ventures Hong Kong
Given the limitations of traditional philanthropic efforts in achieving their intended impacts, philanthropists are now expanding their arsenals to maximise their effectiveness in doing good while doing well. The rise of social entrepreneurship and social ventures are also a reflection of a growing interest especially among the younger generation to find meaning in their work while making a living. This session tackled the role of philanthropy in social impact investing.
The panelists and facilitator set the stage by focusing on the primary importance of creating impact in relation to the opportunity/issues they seek to address, and the tools they can or should use to tackle them. In this context, Mr. Shen shared about his experiences in mainland China where investors and philanthropic funders are more interested in the track record of what a social entrepreneur has done, rather than about the story or passion of the entrepreneur. Ms. Addis added that in her experience, she hears of the challenges or complaints from both funders and social entrepreneurs all the time about the lack of deals and money, respectively, available for them to create impact. It is here Ms. Addis emphasized about the importance of intermediaries to facilitate this discussion and matching so that deals can be get done.
In regards to measurement to demonstrate impact, the panelists agreed that one should not get caught up with the tools and measurement too much. They are indeed important; however, it is also critical to use common sense about what one is trying to achieve and how the current approach may be the most sensible given one’s expertise, strengths and risk appetites.
At the end of the session, when asked about their final words, Ms. Addis suggested that we use all the tools we have in the financial side for the social side of the work in creating impact. For Mr. Shen, he shared about his upcoming initiative to bring B-Corp into China and asked the audience to see how they might participate. Lastly, for Mr. Ngai, he encouraged the participants to take a long-term view on the space, and his hope is for all of us to develop new mindsets and to break out of our silos. He also added a third “M” beyond the first two, of money and meaning – that is mistakes. Mistakes in the sense of a willingness to take risk and find lessons that can move the space forward.