The creation of Big Society Capital in 2012 has inspired confidence in new market players to explore new approaches to business and finance.
Today, we see a higher confidence and increased appetite within corporations, through social innovation and investment programmes, to focus on the creation of positive social outcomes.
It may seem counterintuitive, given the media lamentations on the breakdown of trust between the general public and corporations, but it is increasingly clear that without long-term strategic decisions that take account of employees, wider society and the environment, many corporate leadership teams face a dangerous, business-critical tension between future growth and public good.
This tension is now an opportunity, and experiments by forward-looking businesses around the world have demonstrated that a focus on the creation of positive outcomes can retain talent, better engage customers, whilst providing a return on capital. For society, these strategies help scale solutions to some of our biggest challenges by providing access to necessary capital, skills, networks and technologies. This seems like a good use of the £1trn net assets sitting on FTSE 100 corporate balance sheets.
Through over 30 interviews with leading practitioners, we identified one common theme: strong partnerships are the key success factor. Whether looking to develop a corporate incubator or accelerator, a supply chain project or a new corporate venture capital fund, there are specialist partners – impact investors, foundations, development banks, NGOs, social enterprises to name a few - around the world who corporations can collaborate with to turn their ideas into successful strategies. For example, we learned about the innovative partnership developed between Interserve, Catch 22 and ClubFinance which arose out of last year’s Business Impact Challenge.
In addition to highlighting 12 different models of collaboration, The Practitioner’s Guide, released earlier this week, also summarises seven practical, tactical steps that companies can take as they become more active in social innovation and investment. Each step features a range of case studies and tools and also highlights the story of Ignite, the £10m energy related impact investment fund backed by Centrica.
The report is accessible here.
By Charmian Love, Julia Rebholz and Amanda Feldman, Corporate Impact X - feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.