Short ’n’ Sweet: 12 September 2019

Sweet treats selected from your social enterprise and impact investing news releases. 

This week: wealth manager and law firm both declare climate emergency, Big Issue goes contactless, Social Investment Scotland reveals annual impact figures, and more.


UK: Tribe Impact Capital and Bates Wells declare a climate emergency

A private wealth manager and a law firm have each declared a climate emergency in the past week.

London-based Tribe Impact Capital yesterday published an impact report that highlights the carbon equivalent footprint across assets managed, alongside its financial performance. Acknowledging that the data is incomplete and the methodology used “overly simple”, the wealth manager commits to working with and informing a universal methodology for the financial services industry in this field. Tribe also commits to net zero carbon emissions by 2025 and calls on other asset and wealth managers to follow.

Meanwhile, last week law firm and B Corp Bates Wells committed to reaching net zero carbon in areas caused by its own activity and energy usage, and to using the law “as a tool to protect and improve the environment”. The firm admits it does “not yet know precisely how we will achieve all our commitments” and does not yet commit to targets on ‘scope 3’ emissions (those generated indirectly, within its value chain), though says it is working towards these. 

Bates Wells is already using the law for climate action, by supporting a coalition of organisations to seek a landmark ruling that would clarify whether charities should invest in companies that contribute to dangerous climate change.

These latest declarations follow those from a number of other social enterprise supporters, including Plymouth Social Enterprise Network, which represents about 80 organisations with a combined turnover of £500-£600m a year.

Read more about how social enterprises and investors are reacting to the climate crisis in Pioneers Post Quarterly, issue 14 – out soon!


Global: Eight organisations boosting livelihoods take home Alquity awards

Eight nonprofits and social enterprises from India, Vietnam, Ghana, east Africa, Mexico and Brazil have scooped a Transforming Lives Award, sharing a total prize money of $530,000. 

The awards are delivered by Alquity Transforming Lives Foundation with Alquity Investment Management, with the 600 entries from 12 countries were assessed in partnership with the Philanthropy University

The award money is provided by Alquity’s business model, in which at least 10% of fee revenues are donated to development projects in the regions where it invests. 

The winners, all focused on improving livelihoods, productive employment and decent work, were Plastics for Change, ReachPhoolGlobal Mamas, Gjenge Makers, EDUCATE!, Laboratoria, and Luta pela paz.


Got news of your own to share? Let us know each week by Wednesday, at midday GMT, and we’ll do our best to include it in this weekly column. 


Global: GIIN shares guidance on investing in frontier markets

New research from the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) explores the potential of investments that seek to improve the lives of low-to lower-middle income people in emerging and frontier markets.

These markets present significant opportunities to investors seeking both financial and impact returns, according to GIIN, but also real challenges. Demand for investment currently far outweighs capital flows.

The report, Unlocking the Potential of Frontier Finance, assesses the frontier finance investment landscape, shares five case studies featuring different investment vehicles and transactions, and gives recommendations to build the market and overcome the barriers preventing additional capital flowing into these markets.


Scotland: SIS invests in 43 organisations, benefiting 1.1m people

Over a million Scots have benefited directly or indirectly from the activities of Social Investment Scotland (SIS) in the past year, according to its latest annual impact report

Social Investment Scotland was established in 2001 to provide a new finance model for the country’s charities and social enterprises, and has since invested over £71m.

In 2018/19 it invested a total of £5.4m in 43 organisations. Half of those loans were under £50,000 and SIS reports increased reach to those living in Scotland’s most deprived areas.

In the past year, SIS customers have created 405 full-time equivalent jobs, sustained more than 3,500 jobs and generated £158m in turnover, up £2m from the year before.

CEO Alastair Davis said: “We want to enable organisations to be a sustainable force for good and our annual reports are a way for us to measure how well we’re supporting our customers. We are pleased to see that our impact is being felt right across Scotland and most importantly that over a third of beneficiaries are those in the most deprived areas.”


UK: Big Issue sellers equipped with contactless payment tech

Accepting contactless payments will soon be an option for all vendors of The Big Issue, as the publication supporting people in poverty rolls out cashless technology nationwide. 

The initiative aims to help vendors – who buy every copy of the magazine upfront for 50% of the cover price – to continue to make a living in an increasingly cashless society. 

The UK-wide rollout, in partnership with iZettle, follows a pilot in seven cities that took place between December 2018 – May 2019. Vendors noticed a significant uplift in sales as a result of accepting contactless payments: two of them are now making around 80% of their sales via cashless payments.

Russell Blackman, managing director of The Big Issue, said vendors were microentrepreneurs, effectively running their own small business. “It has long been our intention to provide our vendors with the opportunity to cater for their customers’ needs and increase their ability to earn a legitimate income.” The partnership with iZettle, he added, was an effort to improve financial inclusion for vendors who often have difficulty accessing mainstream financial services and products typically offered by retail banks.

Since its launch in 1991, over 200m copies of The Big Issue magazine have been sold by over 100,000 vulnerable people.

England: Next Generation fund awards almost £500k to five community energy projects 

Community groups with bright ideas for energy innovation have been awarded almost £500,000 from the Next Generation Fund, funded by the independent trust Power to Change

Next Generation is delivered by a consortium consisting of the Centre for Sustainable Energy, Everoze Partners, Low Carbon Hub, Cooperatives UK, Cooperative Futures, Social and Sustainable Capital, and SFW Communication. The new fund aims to identify and support genuinely sustainable, financially viable and innovative community businesses focused on environmental innovation.

The fund’s first five grantees are trialling business models that range from a school-focused energy service company, to community-owned solar PV linked to electric vehicle charging points. They are Chester Community Energy, Lockleaze Energy Partnership, Nadder Community Energy, Brighton Energy and Green Fox Community Energy

The five grantees were selected from the first round of applications; another five will be selected in the second round, which closes at midnight on 15th September 2019. Grants of up to £100,000 will be available to community businesses to develop decentralised, decarbonised, and democratised energy business models. 


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