Tag Archives: Harvard Business Review

Social Impact Investing Creates Value

Impact investing can mean a diverse range of investments, ranging from housing development in the US, to renewable energy in BRIC countries, and agricultural cooperatives in Africa. Investment can be crowded fund or private equity.  The table below shows the spectrum of different impact investment business models and traditional investments.

Impact investment

Social impact investing is not a new trend; it has been around for several decades through philanthropic investments, in areas like community and social development, infrastructure and gender equality. However, a fairly new type of bond to finance social wellness is the Social Impact Bond, which the Social Finance UK describes as a “public-private partnership which funds effective social services through a performance-based contract.” Unlike social impact bonds, however, social impact investing is a large field that include any social benefit from the underlying business model. The combination of social impact investing and bonds is the new form of business model that is emerging in many developing countries around the world. The HBR wrote several articles about how social entrepreneurs are typically held back by traditional financing processes and structures, but in new markets where risk and opportunity are intertwined, innovative business models are capable of driving new areas of returns for investors with an open mind. This is currently the case with green bonds and has been with impact bonds.

Impact Investing in Different Markets

In the world if impact investing, The impact sector is growing, in a study conducted by the Global Impact Investment network, respondents in impact investing reported they grew their impact assets from USD 25.4 billion to 35.5 billion from 2013 to 2015. The report, found here, shows many trends in the sector by respondent types and tracks the growth of the sector. Some American examples include Goldman Sachs’ investments in community and urban development across the US including New Orleans , Chicago, and NYC.

While globally, Africa is seeing many similar impact investments. One being The Just Shea Program , a program that helps women shea harvesters of Ghana with several areas from providing safety gear that can be repaid through harvest shea nuts, to providing equipment to protect form poisonous snakes, and finally and importantly for economic reasons,  the creation of cooperative silos to increase the price per kilo paid to the harvesters.

In Africa, one of the value creation tools that African private equity can contribute to social impact businesses is the ability to bring their portfolio companies up to above-market standards of compliance and transparency, which in turn raises their value at exit. Investors can also help influence the political climate by investing in areas with strong legal standards and compliance thus creating reasons for government to create more favorable investment climates.

It seems that while impact investing may be difficult for traditional investment, there is a space in portfolios for this type of model, and as data emerges on the results, the potential for ROI is very viable as well as the potential to create positive socially responsible returns.

Financing the Transition to Renewable Energy

The rise of renewable is no news; but the transition is not so clear for many actors in the sector, both enthusiasts and those impacted by the shift. Harvard Business Review has recently been looking deeper into the question of financing  the transition to renewable energy from two different perspectives: coal workers and industrial firms.

What If All U.S. Coal Workers Were Retrained to Work in Solar?

Young coal workers, in particular, should consider retraining for a job in solar now. In fact, Research from Oregon State University suggests most coal workers should start thinking about retraining now.

The study quantified the costs and benefits of retraining such workers in solar technology and explores different alternatives to finance the shift. It identifies four different ways of financing such a shift from individual funding options, company sponsored retraining, state driven programmes and federal government initiatives.

It concludes that in general after retraining, most technical workers would make more in the solar industry than previously in coal because there is a wide variety of employment opportunities in the solar industry, and that the annual pay is attractive at all levels of education, with even the lowest skilled jobs paying a living wage.

 

How Industrial Firms Invest in Renewable Energy, Affordably

Big companies have been buying a lot of clean energy;  but making it work in terms of costs and accounting can be a hurdle for industrial companies. HBR draws lessons from Owens Corning execs and how they laid out the strategy to get over the hurdles that industrial companies face when investing in renewable energy in order to add value  to the company, and the environment.

Harvard Business Review outlines 7 reasons why Africa’s time is now

The latest edition of Harvard Business Review outlines 7 reasons why Africa’s time is now. Here they are:

  1. It’s a huge market opportunity,
  2. it is becoming more stable,
  3. It will soon have the World’s largest workforce,
  4. Mobile is expanding,
  5. Intra-African trade is in its infancy,
  6. 20% of Government spending goes into education, and
  7. it contains most of the world’s uncultivated arable land.