Briefing: Celebrity patrons, a $1bn impact investment and... Churchill's legacy

Ford Foundation pledges $1bn for impact investing

Is it the biggest number yet announced to back businesses that do good? The Ford Foundation announced this week that it will be committing $1bn to what it called "mission related investing" (MRI). It is the largest amount committed to impact investing by a private foundation to date.

The money will be taken from the foundation’s $12bn endowment. Originally founded with $25,000 from car manufacturer Henry Ford’s son Edsel, the organisation no longer has any ties to the car company. 

The foundation stated that the money will be taken from its existing portfolio and redeployed into funds that give a social return alongside a financial one. Initial social targets will be affordable housing and access to financial services in developing countries.

“We are making this commitment because we believe MRIs have the potential to become the next great innovation for advancing social good,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “We can’t neglect the tremendous power of markets, including the capital markets, to contribute—and with today’s announcement, we are putting a significant amount of our money where our mission is.”

Actor Michael Sheen becomes patron of Social Enterprise UK

Welsh actor Michael Sheen, famous for films such as Frost/Nixon, has became a patron of UK social enterprise network body Social Enterprise UK (SEUK).

It follows his participation in Social Saturday (pictured above), SEUK’s annual profile raising campaign for consumers to Buy Social – buy services or products from social enterprises.

Sheen used the opportunity to reinterpret one of the slogans that dominated both the Brexit vote and the Trump campaign:

“By joining SEUK as both a Patron and a supporter I aim to help raise the level of public debate on the alternative solutions a social economy can provide, to shine a light on people creating and running social enterprises and the difference that makes.

“As Patron I want to work with the movement and show the world what it might mean to ‘take back control’. An economy that works for everyone, not just the few."

Churchill and Rank send social entrepreneurs in search of social impact

14 fellowships have been awarded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT) together with the Rank Foundation to allow 14 people to travel to various parts of the world to discover how enterprise can be a force for good.

The 14 fellows will explore subjects as diverse as supporting vulnerable women into employment, alternative funding models for marine research and effective migration integration through entrepreneurship. The idea is that new ideas are brought back to the UK to create social impact.

Many of the awardees already work for social enterprises, such as Patricia Marks of the Somerset Business Agency, which tackles unemployment in the region and Annmarie Lewis. who runs Rainmakers Worldwide, which encourages entrepreneurship in those with challenging backgrounds.

The WCMT is a charity that was founded with public donations when Churchill died. The Rank Foundation is also a charity, endowed with money made by The Rank Organisation, which made films and owned cinemas in the 1940s.

Photo credit: Social Enterprise UK/Flickr