The Editors' Post: Cancer charity embraces impact investment

Macmillan's first impact investment fund; bringing Britain's high streets back from breaking point – and a UAE impact leader to watch: the editors' view from this week's Pioneers Post newsletter.

A year ago, Power to Change warned that Britain’s high streets were at “breaking point”: a record 16% of shops lay empty, and one in 20 vacant units across the country had been shuttered up for more than three years. 

For historic buildings, there’s a particular headache: the ‘conservation deficit’ – the difference between how much it costs to conserve or adapt them, and their subsequent market value –  is rising. One option for cash-strapped local authorities is to team up with ‘social enterprise developers’, as Architectural Heritage Fund’s Gavin Richards writes this week. These partnerships can breathe new life – in the form of a Jamaican restaurant, say – into disused buildings, sparking pride and confidence in the local area. 

Deals, doubts and a dirty word

Two deals worth noting this week: 100-year-old charity Macmillan announced the first deal in its new £3.5m impact investing fund to support innovation in cancer care. And – in bleak evidence that the economy definitely doesn’t work for everyone – a community development finance institution secured a £40m commitment to help meet “rocketing demand” for credit among NHS and other public sector workers.

How do we know, from the outside, if an impact investors’ claims are accurate? How do investors themselves find out how their impact management processes stack up against those of their peers? Enter impact verification – a growing field, with a significant number of investors now committing to be independently verified. Find out more about how this works, who’s doing it – and if it’s the solution to impact washing – in our latest Impact 101.

To the United Arab Emirates, where we meet Lucy Chow, one of the trailblazers selected to join the Asian Impact Leaders Network. Contrary to what some people think, she tells us, “women are not wallflowers here”. But, while they also make “natural” impact investors, there’s still a gender divide when it comes to talking about one’s investments. “Guys talk about it all the time,” she says. “We should be doing the same thing. It's not a dirty word to say that I want to make money.”

How to help in Turkey and Syria

Finally, with a desperate need for aid in Turkey and Syria, B Lab and Euclid Network have each gathered lists of trusted channels to donate to – check them out here and here


This week's top stories:

Macmillan launches £3.5m impact investment fund in first for 100-year-old charity

The Asian Impact Leaders profiles: Lucy Chow

Opinion: Social enterprises and local authorities can team up to overcome the ‘conservation deficit’


Top image credit: National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

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