November 18, 2013

Interest Surges in Social Impact Investment

The 7th November seminar on social impact investment, jointly hosted by the Social Impact Investment Network SA (SIINSA) and the New Venture Institute (NVI) at Flinders University and sponsored by The Wyatt Trust, drew a significant crowd of interested parties from across the social spectrum which included community agencies, peak bodies, the investment sector and government officials from Treasury, Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

Minister for Health, Jack Snelling, outlined the explorations underway by government about the potential of social impact bonds to produce good social outcomes while a range of speakers addressed the development of social impact investment across the globe. In particular, Minister Snelling pointed to the potential for social investments to be drivers of impact measurement in connection with service delivery. Kylie Charlton, Co-Founder of Unitus Capital, a major player in the social finance arena, described the growth in the sector and future potential, while Liz Sanders from UnitingCare Burnside outlined how private investment in the first Australian social impact bond was funding the Newpin program in NSW, focusing on family reunification. Shadow Attorney General, Stephen Wade, outlined the developments in the UK and insights gained through his meetings there with those involved in social impact bonds from both the government and service delivery spheres. Graham Brown, CEO of Junction Australia, spoke of the hopes he and others in the sector had for social impact investment as an opportunity to test interventions that have the capacity to get us “ahead of the curve” in responding to society’s most wicked problems, while Ross Womersley, Executive Director of SACOSS, sounded some notes of caution about the potential risks associated with social impact bonds as a new service funding paradigm.

In commenting on social investment, SIINSA Chairman Paul Madden, said: “social impact investment is not just a wave that is coming, it it with us right now. While it does come with risks, it also comes with opportunities as a driver of innovation, impact measurement, new capital and most importantly fresh energy to tackle those issues we have struggled to make headway on for decades. It will cause us to think differently, to develop new partnerships, to embrace effectiveness measures in new and more robust ways and cause us to honestly confront the question of whether what we do makes any difference. The journey toward an embrace of social impact investment will require courage but the rewards go far beyond any financial dividend; they will be the benefits that flow to those who find help and assistance in their time of need.”

Visit the SIINSA Facebook page for more images from the event.