Posts

Meet Will Poole, Microsoft VP Turned Impact Investor, Co-Founder of Unitus Seed Fund and Capria

In this episode, we meet Will Poole–who pivoted from a successful career at Microsoft to exploring and engaging in impact investing. His work led him to launch Unitus Seed Fund in 2012, a fund specifically designed to provide seed funds for companies in India profitably delivering products and services that improve the lives of families in the lowest social-economic strata.

Based on feedback and requests, Will and his co-founding team have taken another major step in impact investing. This time, as ecosystem builders. In January 2015, he co-founded Capria, an accelerator program for fund managers seeking to gain skill sets, guidance, and actionable knowledge in engaging in impact investing.

Learn more about his personal journey into social impact and how his ‘problemsolving mindset’ has served him in his various roles.

Listen to the Podcast Episode 

Meet Will Poole

 

Will is the Co-founder & Managing Partner of Capria which leads two pioneering ventures: Unitus Seed Fund, the leading seed fund in India innovating for the masses; and Capria Accelerator, the first global business accelerator for impact fund managers.

Unitus has been India’s most active seed impact investor since 2013. Co-founder of Vidyanext in Bangalore, and Volt Boats in San Diego. He is also an active member of Social Venture Partners, focused on social entrepreneurship. Co-founder of SVP Bangalore.

Will was previously a corporate VP of the Unlimited Potential Group at Microsoft, co-leading efforts to bring social and economic opportunity to the “next billion”. He also ran Microsoft’s multi-billion dollar Windows Client business, headed up New Media Platforms and other internet and digital media groups.

Show Notes

Here are a few articles mentioned in this episode.

More About Capria

  • Website: http://capria.vc/
  • Value Proposition: “We work with financial services entrepreneurs who are setting up new investment vehicles. We provide them with what they need to be successful.
,

Interview with Tim Freundlich, President of ImpactAssets and Impact Investment Innovator

Listen to the Interview with Tim Freundlich

 

 

Meet Tim

On Innov8social we get a number of questions about the intersection of Tim Freundlichinvestment and impact. And on this episode of The Innov8social Podcast we offer a front row perspective from the impact investment sector. Tim Freundlich is the President of ImpactAssets and a longtime professional and innovator in the impact investment space. With the tagline “Invest with meaning” ImpactAssets is a nonprofit financial services firm that increases the flow of capital into investments that deliver financial, social and environmental returns.

Tim is well-versed in the space of building financial instruments and pathways for impact in investing.  He has served in a number of capacities at Calvert Foundation,where he launched the Giving Fund – an impact investment-based donor advised fund. He was also instrumental in building the $225 million Calvert Community Investment Note with more than $750 million invested into 300-plus nonprofits and for profits globally.

Tim also co-founded and serves as Managing Partner for Good Capital which funds one of the premier global conferences for social enterprise, Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) annually in San Francisco.

 

Find Out More

 

More About Tim Freundlich

More ImpactAssets

  • Website: impactassets.org
  • Value proposition: “To catalyze the impact investing ecosystem by providing products and thought leadership that enable philanthropists, other asset owners and their wealth advisors to make investments with positive social, environmental and financial returns.
  • Forbes interview, “ImpactAssets Advocates For More Investment In Social Good”

More About Impact Investing Products by ImpactAssets

  • Giving Fund, donor advised fund that leverages the power of impact investing to put more money to work for social and environmental benefit. Tax-deductible contributions start at $5,000
  • Investment Notes, debt securities that will enable individual investors to invest in high-impact organizations around the world. (Sustainable Agriculture Note and Microfinance Plus Note)

More About Impact Investing Field Building by ImpactAssets

  • ImpactAssets 50, annually updated list of impact investment firms that represent the breadth of active impact fund managers
  • Investor & Financial Advisor Education, orginal and curated resources to support the growth of impact investing, for those new and experienced practitioners.

 

,

In Recap & Storify: Wharton Social Impact Conference (#WSIC2013)

#WSIC2013: Wharton Social Impact Conference 2013 in SF

On a sunny Thursday afternoon, over 150 people packed an auditorium at the scenic Wharton San Francisco campus to hear about relevant issues in the social innovation space.

The event—The Wharton Social Impact Conference—was held on April 4th 2013 and featured two lively panel discussions by impact investors and social entrepreneurs.

#WSIC2013: Wharton Social Impact Conference 2013 in SFThe conference was organized by Wharton SF business students and was attended by colleagues, thought leaders in the field, aspiring social entrepreneurs, and members of the community interested in the topic.

 

#WSIC2013: Wharton Social Impact Conference 2013 in SF

Panel 1: The Impact Investors

The first panel brought together four prominent leaders in the impact investment space.  Geoff “Chester” Woolley of Unitus, a VC firm that invests in scalable businesses serving East Asia that address poverty. When asked about what kinds of social enterprises his firm funds, Mr. Woolley said that Unitus is more focused on funding great entrepreneurs rather than financing individual ideas. He emphasized the importance of having a talented, cohesive team.




Next up was Ed Marcum of Humanity United, that funds efforts to give voice to the underrepresented and advance human freedom. He was followed by Penelope Douglas of Social Capital Markets (SOCAP)–which oversees HUB co-working spaces as well as the SOCAP conference. She emphasized that markets + business are crucial levers of change in social enterprise. The final speaker of the panel was Raj Gollamudi of Omidyar Network who spoke about various forms of capital and the increasing importance of patient capital or slow money—to fund major innovation.

#WSIC2013: Wharton Social Impact Conference 2013 in SF

Panel 2: The Social Entrepreneurs

After a brief networking break, the event resumed for an engaging second panel.Oftentimes, there’s a certain electricity that is generated when you get a group of social entrepreneurs in a room. It’s as though their energy, passion, and perseverance radiates to those around them.This panel was no different.

Each successive speaker brought more to the table and delved into a particular unique facet of their social entrepreneurial experience. Leila Janah of Samasource was poised, articulate, and eloquent in explaining her non-profit’s commitment to alleviating poverty through job creation.

She was followed by Alicia Polak of the Bread Project whose candor and openness about creating a local job training & culinary program was disarming, instructive, and entertaining.

Always a crowd favorite, Back to the Roots co-founder Nikhil Arora recapped his journey into social entrepreneurship and touched on the remarkable growth and media their gourmet mushroom kits have garnered. Next up was Jill Vialet of PlayWorks who enlightened the audience about the importance of play and her company’s innovative approach to facilitate play-inspired recess sessions.

Erin Gruwell of Freedom Writers literally brought the crowd to tears with her story of her work challenging her inner-city high school students to write a book. Her passion for her work and her students touched not only the audience in the room but many thousands who watched the Hollywood movie based on her story, Freedom Writers (She was played by Hilary Swank)

In asking one of event organizers, Raghavan Anand about what he took away from the event, he shared his 3 key takeaways, “1) There is value in attaching meaning to money and seeing what impact it can make rather than the raw purchasing power; 2) As the quote goes, ‘Success does not drive happiness but happiness drives success’,” and he pointed out the passion that was felt when the social entrepreneurs explained their work. Finally, Anand noted “3) Happiness is not the end-game. Meaning is, as Viktor Frankl said. And you derive meaning by giving to others, and leaving your impact on the world.”

Storify: Wharton Social Impact Conference (#WSIC2013) in Tweets, Photos, and Posts

To get an even better snapshot of the day, below is a storify compiled to with images, twitter comments, and articles and posts.

[View the story “Wharton Social Impact Conference (#WSIC2013)” on Storify]

, ,

Interview with Bright Funds, a New Way to Manage Charitable Giving

How do you manage your charitable giving?

For many people donations are impulse investments—a friend is running a race to fund cancer research, you see a photo of animals being mistreated, a natural disaster impacts thousands of individuals and you want to do something, you strongly support a cause on principal and want to vote with your dollar.

Bright Funds, a New Way to Manage Charitable Giving

Bright Funds, an innovative social enterprise startup launched in 2012, takes an investment portfolio approach to charitable giving. Bright Funds is an online platform that makes the process of donating more like investing—where you can create an individualized portfolio, diversify your giving according to interests and causes, and research relevant non-profits within your selected “Bright Funds”.

Julie StreuliMeet Julia

Innov8Social had a chance to catch up with Julia Streuli, Head of Communications of the lean Bright Funds startup team to talk about the inspiration behind the idea, how the platform works, and what’s ahead for the company.

Read the Interview

Q1 | Innov8Social: What problem is Bright Funds addressing?

A1 | Julia Streuili, Bright Funds’ Head of Communications:

In talking to Julia her enthusiasm for the concept behind Bright Funds and its potential to shift how we think about charitable giving is immediately apparent.

Julia highlighted the fact that high net worth individuals and philanthropists often hire people to research nonprofits to receive donations, noting however; that there are not many tools available for the average individual to track, research, and design charitable giving.

credit: brightfunds.org
She explained that Bright Funds provides an investment approach to individual giving to ensure that donor dollars are channelled to non-profits that are highly impactful. There is a certain pattern in giving: 1) choose where to give and, 2) give; however, missing from the usual equation is 3) find out what impact your giving had on the cause. Julia noted that Bright Funds closes that “feedback loop” between donating to a nonprofit and following up on the impact of your donation by featuring non-profits that have a track record of being highly impactful in certain core sectors.

Specifically, Bright Funds uses multiple lenses to identify impactful nonprofits including assessments from platforms such as: CharityNavigator, Charity Watch, Universal Giving, GiveWell, and Philanthropedia.Individual donors (i.e. Bright Fund investors) choose the percentage of giving for each of four broad sectors: water, poverty, environment, education, health, or they can choose their own fund of non-profits not included in the Bright Funds list.  They can then research and select specific non-profits that serve their interest in the sector.Julia said that creating a portfolio based on sector was by design—because it shifts the focus from charities to the causes they champion. By aligning yourself with causes that are important, you can better assess impact on the issue, rather than the organization.

Q2 | Innov8Social: What tools does Bright Funds offer?

A2 | Julia, Bright Funds:

Julia overviewed the quick protyping and release of Bright Funds offerings. The startup launched a consumer-facing site in 2012 on #GivingTuesday, enabling anyone to create a profile and begin designing and tracking their charitable giving—all for free. The team is now in the midst of launching an enterprise platform.

The enterprise tool integrates with a company’s benefits system. It lets employees design and track donations and customize the list of nonprofits featured. So far, Bright Funds has seen interest in the new tool by various Fortune 500 and mid-sized Bay area tech companies. Many companies already feature allocated giving programs, but most haven’t designed a holistic approach to help employees manage their giving. Bright Funds sees potential for more-effective platform for personal giving, that can allow for efficiencies such as direct deposit (from an employee’s paycheck) as well as utilizing a company’s donation-match policies.

Q3 | Innov8Social: How does Bright Funds vet the nonprofits featured in its funds?

A3 | Julia, Bright Funds:

As mentioned, Bright Funds has identified major five major categories, each of which form a different Bright Fund (i.e. there are currently 5 Bright Funds: water, poverty, environment, education, health, or customized fun).

If donors are interested in supporting a specific cause or effort, they can read through the descriptions of the non-profits for each Fund to identify the “facets” (or focus areas) for each non-profit and can select or deselect individual non-profits to support on that basis.

Julia noted that Bright Funds strives to be objective in selecting nonprofits to be in porfolio offerings. As mentioned, Bright Funds looks at 5 different insititutional charity evaluating bodies, each of which has its own criteria to identify funds. Pooling information from various assessment platforms enables a more holistic view of non-profits—so as not to favor more-established charities over newer ones, etc.

Notably, Julia added that consumers can add any nonprofit/favorite nonprofits. For companies, if they support a group of local nonprofits, Bright Funds can build company fund portfolio.

Q4 | Innov8Social: Can individuals support social enterprises in their Bright Funds portfolio?

A4 | Julia, Bright Funds:

Julia said that at this time, individuals cannot support a social enterprise in their Bright Funds portfolio. She noted that Bright Funds has a non-profit foundation, through which donation is channelled. So it is possible that a donation to social enterprise could go through the Bright Fund Foundation.

Q5 | Innov8Social: What legal structure has Bright Funds’ selected?

A5 | Julia, Bright Funds:

Bright Funds is structured as a for-profit startup and non-profit foundation. Specifically, the for-profit entity is a commercial fundraiser– which means that it has signed contracts with all charities in the fund to act as a fundraiser for the nonprofit.

Julia noted that originally both cofounders considered becoming a nonprofit, but wanted to be able to leverage the initial investment. The decision to become a commercial fundraiser was based on idea that 100% funds should be tax deductible.

Q6 | Innov8Social: Is Bright Funds scalable?

A6 | Julia, Bright Funds:

Julia noted that since Bright Funds is a cloud-based platform, it is relatively easy to scale.

Q7 | Innov8Social: How has Bright Funds been funded?

A7 | Julia, Bright Funds:

Julia shared that Bright Funds has been backed by investor funding. It closed its first round of funding from angel investors around time when consumer platform launched in 2012. It is also a portfolio company at Hattery in San Francisco. She also mentioned the immeasurable assistance and mentorship that Leila Janah, Founder of Samasource and Bright Funds Board advisor and mentor, has provided.

Q8 | Innov8Social: How is Bright Funds monetized?

A8 | Julia, Bright Funds:

Julia explained that with its commercial fundraising status, Bright Funds takes a percentage of the raise. And noted that the amount taken is often about half of what the non-profit would budget for marketing and attracting donations.

Note: This post was edited to clarify distinctions of categories and types of Bright Funds. 

Notes from Pitching for Good: Understanding Your Funding Model, a Stanford PACS Event

Stanford Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS) hosted a thoughtful discussion last week on funding avenues social entrepreneurs can pursue to support and grow their ventures.A panel of five speakers representing unique sectors shared perspectives on non-profit grants, impact investing, venture capitalist investing, program-related investments, and perspectives from being a social entrepreneur in the field.

The panel discussion was followed by a brief Q&A and then breakout groups to further discuss nuances of various funding models. Below are a few key points made by each speaker.
Stanford PACS Panel

Kim Meredith, Executive Director of PACS (moderator)

Kim welcomed guests and outlined four initiatives related to social innovation that the Center supports.  These include:
Stanford PACS program

 

4 Initiatives by PACS for Social Innovation:
Kim then introduced the panel made of diverse players and perspectives in the social impact field.

Jenny Shilling Stein, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation.

Jenny provided insight on how her organization selects social innovators to receive funding from the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, which focuses on funding early-stage high-impact nonprofit organizations. She emphasized that her organization believes that great people make great change and that much of the evaluation has to do with the leader. Her team pays close attention to characteristics of the leader, past experience in leadership and management, and the ability to maintain great judgment, especially in challenging situations.
The Foundation also takes into account the impact of the model and how the social initiative will address deep needs.

Susan Phinney Silver, Program-Related Investment Officer at the David and Lucille Packard Foundation.

Susan provided a unique perspective on program-related investment—a funding model that enables foundations to invest in philanthropic projects where the return on investment is not the primary outcome sought. She highlighted that although the space of social entrepreneur investment may feel fairly new,  foundations such as the Packard Foundation have been engaging in PRI’s for the past 15 years.
She emphasized that it is key for a social innovator to study the areas of focus of various foundations. However compelling a new social venture may be, if it is not aligned with the goals and mission of the foundation, it could be a hard sell.
A few areas of focus of the Packard Foundation include land conservation, kids and education, climate change, and reproductive rights. She said her organization looks for a strong programmatic focus with on impact-related outcomes. She also mentioned that part of the assessment in granting a PRI is what the funding will mean for the venture and whether it has the potential of attracting other forms of funding as well.Innov8Social addressed program-related investment last year, in connection with the L3C legal structure aimed at streamlining the process of granting PRI’s.

Liz Rockett, Vice President of Imprint Capital.

Liz’s area of focus at Imprint Capital–an impact investment firm–is health practice and improvement of domestic healthcare.  She mentioned that she has noticed a trend in the five years the firm has been in existence. Namely, she has seen a rise in the number of private wealth looking to enter the impact investment market.
Also dubbed “patient capital” impact investment is a funding model that anticipates a modest rate of return as a social venture focuses on impact and scalability.

Michael Dorsey, Managing Partner at the Westley Group.

The Westley Group is a venture capital firm that specializes in investment in cleantech companies. Prior to his role at Westley, Dorsey was co-led the Bay Area Equity Fund that successfully funded cleantech ventures including Tesla, PowerLight, and SolarCity.
Michael reassured the audience that there is money available for driven, focused social innovators. He cited universities such as Stanford and Duke that have campaigned to raise billions of dollars on funding that can support interdisciplinary approaches to technology, impact, and innovation.
In answering how social innovators can raise funds, Michael emphasized the importance of matching the donor with the need—if there’s a real need—and an excellent team.

Sunita Mohanty, Business Development at Lumosity.

Sunita provided a perspective from the field. She shared her experience of being part of a social impact startup that did not proceed forward. She has since parlayed her skill set in finance, strategy, and education into a business development and strategic partnerships role at Lumosity—an online platform and app that leverages neuroscience to create games and exercises that improve core cognitive abilities.She noted that for a social venture, early stage funding can be a mixed blessing. While providing capital and stability it can also lead a startup to pursuing more angles of their venture instead of focusing on perfecting a main strategy. 

,

BlendedProfit Lets You Hangout with Social Innovation Thought Leaders

BlendedProfit.com is a site focused on fostering the new economy, through posts on news and trends, and interviews with thought leaders in the field.In its series of live Google Hangout webinars, the site’s Chief Curator Brian Weinberg interviews various individuals at the forefront of profit and cause—to better understand the existing infrastructure and future of an economy blended with profit and purpose.

Today marks interview #14 and will be with Lisa Hall, President & CEO of the Calvert Foundation.
You can tune in to today’s GameChangers episode here. (8 PM EST/ 5 PM PST)
Innov8Social logo

 

BlendedProfit.com

 

 

15+ Articles and Multimedia Posts on Social Impact Bonds

We posted earlier about what a social impact bond is. This innovative model is disrupting traditional modes of financing social change. It makes the societal issue the ‘common enemy’, while putting non-profits, the government, and private investors on the same team. If the social goals are reached, it can deliver be a win-win-win situation.There is a growing body of news, posts, and media about social impact bonds online. Here are a few promising resources we came across.

15+ Articles and Posts on Social Impact Bonds

 

What is a Social Impact Bond? [3 MIN VIDEO]

A social impact bond (SIB) is a unique form of impact investing that leverages impact innovation results with funding. It is an agreement between multiple stakeholders where investors fund a social change solution and are repaid by the government only if the solution yields results within a frame of time.Here is a great 3 minute video by McKinsey and Company explaining what a social impact bond is and how it works:

 

You can also tune into Stanford Social Innovation Review’s Webinar with Tracy Palandjian and Sonal Shah on social impact bonds today (11 AM PST) or view later here.Here are a few facts about the social impact bond:1. It’s not a bond. It’s an agreement between multiple stakeholders–such as nonprofits, government, and investors and involves an intermediary.
2. It was first implemented in England. The first social impact bond to be introduced was launched to target recidivism rate among young men near London. Social Finance UK was the intermediary to deliver better outcomes for lower cost. The first SIB yielded great results.
3. It has other names. It is also known as Pay for Success Bond or a Social Benefit Bond.
4. MA and NY have implemented in the US. The SIB’s addressed issues of recidivism and homelessnes.
5. The goal is to target institutional capital. Beyond using philanthropic capital, Social Finance Founder Tracy Paladjin says that the goal is to attract traditiona/institutional capital to fund SIB’s.

Also, you can find a list of 15+ articles and multimedia posts here.

Where are the Rules for Crowdfunding for Investment?

The short answer is: ask the SEC.

texting the sec

The Recap

As you may have read here or around the web, federal legislation has passed that creates a pathway for crowdfunding for equity—which enables individuals (not just the qualified, wealthy individuals known as accredited investors).

Here are some of the main highlights of the history of this legislation:

  • July 2010: Northern California-based Sustainable Economies Law Center files a petition with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requesting a crowdfunding exemption.
  • Sept 2011: U.S House Representative Patrick McHenry (R, NC) introduces H.R. 2930 (Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act) which proposes a crowdfunding for equity exemption in Congress
  • Nov 2011: U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R, MA) introduces S. 1971 (Democratizing Access to Capital Act) in the Senate which proposes a crowdfunding for equity exemption in the Senate
  • Nov 2011: President Obama publicly supports the crowdfunding for equity efforts
  • Nov 3rd 2011: House of Representatives passes H.R. 2930
  • Dec 8th 2011: U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D, OR) introduces CROWDFUND ACT S. 1970 (different terms than the Congressional bill)
  • Mar 22 2012:  Senates passes S. 1970
  • Apr 5th 2012: President Obama signs the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act by President Obama on April 5, 2012 which includes a crowdfunding for equity exemption.

There are a few amazing resources that can give you a visual, play-by-play, editorial, and contextual view of the crowdfunding legislation. Check them out:

The next stop for the crowdfunding legislation after the President’s signature, was to the SEC to promulgate rules on how crowdfunding for equity would actually work.

 

Where the Crowdfunding Legislation is Now?

Paul Spinrad, who helped initiate the crowdfunding for equity legislation and who has been an avid blogger on the subject, noted in a July 2012 post that the SEC Chair Mary Schapiro anticipated that crowdfunding for equity rulemaking to be complete by the end of 2012.

However, since that time, Spinrad and others have reported that Schapiro will be stepping down as SEC Chair. The announcement has been confirmed by news outlets, and she is scheduled to step down on Dec. 14th 2012.

In his mid-November 2012 post for thecrowdcafe.com, titled “Dear SEC: The Right to Accept Risk Must be Ours” — investment crowdfunding researcher Jonathan Sandlund succinctly summarized parts of the JOBs Act related to crowdfunding and offered his view on how long it will take for the laws to be implemented. Notably, he said:

“Title II of the JOBS Act lifts the ban on general solicitation and advertising of security offerings, enabling companies to efficiently solicit and raise capital from a large (or small) number of accredited investors online. Effectively, Title II will kickstart crowdfunding from accredited investors (high net-worth individuals). While the SEC is well passed the Congressionally mandated deadline of July for Title II, many in the industry are cautiously optimistic that we’ll see action by the end of this year, or early next. Title III of the JOBS Act (The CROWDFUND Act) on the other hand, which creates a democratized private capital marketplace by allowing investors of all economic classes to participate, isn’t looking so good.”

 

The Skinny

Title II of the JOBS Act

what it does: lets companies solicit from accredited investors online
SEC rulemaking: was supposed to be passed by July 2012, likely to be passed Dec 2012 or early 2013

Title III of the JOBS Act

what it does: lets non-accredited investors invest smaller amounts in companies for equity
SEC rulemaking: was supposed to be passed by end of 2012, but looks now like it will be passed by end of 2013

 

Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press / April 6, 2012, credit: latimes.com
,

President Obama signs the JOBS Act–Crowdfunding for Investment is Here!

Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press / April 6, 2012, credit: latimes.com
Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press / April 6, 2012, credit: latimes.com

On Thursday (4/5/12) President Obama signed into law groundbreaking crowdfunding legislation that would open up investment to start-ups to anyone—not just accredited investors.

The bill reached his desk after passing with an overwhelming majority in the U.S. Senate in late March.

The news is huge and Jenny Kassan–President of Community Ventures and Co-Founder of Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) had this to say in a recent HuffingtonPost article, “The legislation is remarkable, as it (rightly) reverses more than 90 years of restrictions on raising capital at the grass-roots level.”

Kassan advised student volunteers of SELC when they filed a petition with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2010 requesting an exemption to the archaic rules that allowed only accredited investors to invest in start-up ventures.

The organization’s perseverance and momentum as key politicians from both sides of the spectrum rallied behind federal legislation changing the existing law.

I had a chance to talk to Jenny about the legislation and her role in the new law in November 2011 and was impressed with her knowledge of the history of the law surrounding crowd sourced investment and her knowledge and familiarity with the bills.

It’s an exciting place to be for social entrepreneurs…with great potential ahead.