Global social innovation round-up #26

$30m impact investment fund announced in Australia

HESTA – a AU$32bn fund for the health and community services sector in Australia – has committed AU$30m to create a dedicated impact investment fund that will be managed by Social Ventures Australia (SVA).

The fund has been named the Social Impact Investment Trust and will allow HESTA to ‘make direct and indirect investments in a range of businesses, housing projects and social impact bonds that deliver both financial returns and identifiable and quantifiable social impact’.

Robert Fowler, HESTA’s chief investment officer, said: “We share a strong commitment to growing the impact investing market in Australia and consider the relationship with SVA a significant milestone in building this market, to convert words into meaningful action.”

Debate over the Freedom of Information Act and charities distracts from the “bigger issue”, says SEUK boss

In response to the announcement that the UK government is considering extending the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to charities, CEO of Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) Peter Holbrook has stated this is a distraction from the “bigger issue” of whether private companies delivering public services will be exempt.

“Whether the FOI Act should be extended to charities is important, but risks overshadowing the bigger issue in this critical debate, which is that private companies are not necessarily going to be covered by the new FOI laws.

“Taxpayers spend close to £200 billion every year on goods and services with third party providers, the majority of which goes to private companies. These firms are already difficult to hold to account and often operate with little transparency.

“Extending the Freedom of Information Act to include charities and social enterprises is perfectly reasonable where they receive substantial sums of money from the taxpayers' purse to deliver crucial services. But private companies delivering public services must also be open to the same rules and regulations. In the last parliament, the government committed to this. A U-turn now would be a grave mistake.”

Fair trade giant joins forces with social enterprise ecotourism specialist

Sumak Travel, a UK-based social enterprise that specialises in Latin American ‘ecotourism’, has partnered with the Cafédirect Producers’ Foundation (CPF) to launch a range of Fair Trade Adventures in Colombia, Costa Rica and Peru.

Four new small group tours will introduce travellers to the farmers and artisans behind popular fair trade products such as coffee, chocolate and handicrafts, while also visiting some of Latin America’s most iconic sights and natural wonders.

Felipe Zalamea, director at Sumak Travel, said: "For us responsible travel isn't just about minimising the negative impacts of tourism, it's about creating rewarding travel experiences that have a positive impact for local people and the environment.”

For more social enterprise travel options, read our Top 6 socially responsible places to stay in 2016.

UK Cabinet Office’s head of social investment joins health charity

Kieron Boyle is to leave his position as head of social investment at the Cabinet Office after four years to take on the role of CEO at London-based Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity.

Boyle has helped position the UK as a global leader in social finance. He also holds several non-executive positions including at the Design Council and Catch 22. In 2014 Boyle was named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

He said: “Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity has a unique legacy and an exciting future. I am thrilled to be joining the Charity at such an important time. I look forward to building on its recent achievements and to working with the Charity’s local partners to tackle major health and care issues in what is a particularly challenging time for healthcare both locally and nationally.”

Boyle will start his new role at the healthcare charity in April 2016.


Header image: Cartagena, Colombia

Photo credit: McKay Savage