Finanziamenti per imprese sociali

14 09 2008

Ho appena scritto un articolo per il blog di Vita su come varie imprese sociali nel mondo stiano esplorando nuovi canali di finanziamento per le loro attività. Lo copio qui sotto (ma in inglese perchè ahimè non ho tempo di tradurlo in italiano). Buon fundraising!

For those of us running social enterprises or aspiring to set one up, the first challenge – often bordering on nightmare – is of course financing. So far, social ventures have relied on combination of grant and debt financing, which is often very time-consuming and unsustainable. But things are slowly changing, and many social enterprises across the world are breaking new ground in the way they resources their work.

The issue came up this week in The Economist, which runs an interesting analysis of what it calls non-profit capitalism. The article focuses on Do Something, an American non-profit group promoting volunteerism by teenagers. On 17 September they will be launching an initial public offering (IPO) to raise $8m.The IPO prospectus contains dazzling information about the organisation track record, and it looks almost identical to a traditional IPO. The main difference, points out the Economist, is the absence of any pledge to make a profit:

“This imitation of the for-profit IPO process may seem gimmicky, but in fact it is part of a new trend to improve how non-profits are financed, so that they can escape the obsession with short-term fund-raising that is pervasive in the charitable world.”

But investing for good can also offer more than simply social returns. Social investors are increasingly interested in blending social and financial returns, and are thus stimulating the birth of a more sustainable funding market, in which social enterprises have greater incentives to perform well:

  • Forma Futura Invest Inc. is a newly founded, independent asset management company that invests in projects that foster a sustainable quality of life and earn an adequate return for its clients.
  • HIP Investor is a leading expert in building sustainable, profitable growth and helping both socially minded investors and global executives meet their goals for Human Impact + Profit simultaneously.
  • Endeavor aims to transform emerging-market economies by identifying and supporting high-impact entrepreneurs, who have the potential to create thriving companies that employ hundreds of people and generate millions of dollars in wages and revenues.

Mapping the social investment field in Europe, let alone the world, is very hard, although EIRIS (Ethical Investment Research Services) gave it a shot in the UK (obviously the most developed social financing market in Europe) with its Directory of the UK’s major Green and Ethical Funds (PDF), with contains detailed information of their positive and negative screening criteria and contact details for the fund managers.

Social investors are also harnessing the power of online technologies to break down informational barriers that typically prevent markets from operating efficiently. Good examples are (pronounced ‘ziggy’ as in zeitgeist), a space for making connections and gathering intelligence within the capital market that invests in good. Its Social Capital Index (SCI) tracks investments in the social capital market, including social enterprise, fair trade, digital inclusion, and selected clean tech and microfinance investments.

Looking at my own social enterprise, The Hub, we’re getting ready to launch a new, state-of-the-art social innovation space in London: The Hub King’s Cross. So far we’ve raised investment in the form of debt from banks and private individuals, but we are now seeking to raise a final £100,000 through the issuing of micro bonds, with returns on investment over 5 years varying from 7% to 11.5%. Not bad for a non-profit devoted to supporting social entrepreneurs!

What this brief pictures tells is this: when you are looking to financing your social enterprise, don’t just take the same old route. The good thing about running a social enterprise is the flexibility it gives you to blend financial and social returns!




One response

14 09 2008
Allen Taylor

Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.

Allen Taylor

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