The Editors' Post: UK social investment resilient – but not immune to crises

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The UK's social investment market appears resilient, but a closer look at the data reveals that the economic crisis is biting hard. Plus, how a Pakistani social enterprise saves lives; and a new institute for philanthropy launches – with a lot of cash.

This week saw the publication of Big Society Capital’s yearly UK social investment market sizing study. The headline figure is positive: the market continued to grow in 2022, hitting £9.4bn as of the end of last year. This is despite the British economy being, let’s face it, all over the place. But a closer look shows a mixed picture. Investment in social housing is growing healthily – it’s a safe bet, real estate with nearly guaranteed returns backed by government funding. But social lending – investment into the social enterprises and charities that are doing great work on the ground to support people in need – hasn’t performed well: while the size of that market has grown overall, commitments made during 2022 were down by nearly 9% compared with 2021. Investment in impact ventures has also taken a massive hit, led by a global downwards trend in VC investing generally. 

And it’s only going to get worse, according to BSC boss Stephen Muers, who predicts 2023 will be a tougher year. Fundraising has become really difficult, among raising rates, a cost of living crisis and general market uncertainty. Conclusion? The social investment market may be resilient in difficult circumstances, but it’s not immune to economic upheaval. This kind of quality research – and honesty from leaders – is extremely valuable because it’s too easy to fall into wishful thinking and convince oneself that things are going well – when it’s not quite the case, actually. 


Asian stories

It’s not all doom and gloom and today we’re bringing you the inspiring story of a Pakistani social business that’s saving lives by teaching essential medical skills to people in rural areas, effectively turning them into first-aid responders. Since its inception in 2017, Saving 9 has saved over 950 lives and trained 1,500 people in first aid. CEO Abdullah bin Abbas tells Hamna Iqbal how the organisation has been navigating cultural sensitivities, battling bureaucracy and fighting for business growth to deliver its mission.

Also this week, the Hong Kong Jockey Club (a racing business that channels income from its betting and lottery activities to charitable causes, and a major philanthropic donor) announced the launch of the Hong Kong Institute of Philanthropy, hoping it will bring a “much needed Asian voice in the global debate on philanthropy”. Seeded with HK$5bn (nearly €600m), the institute no doubt has some potential.


This week’s top stories:

UK social investment market grows to £9.4bn in 2022 despite tumultuous economy – new Big Society Capital report

New Hong Kong Institute of Philanthropy aims to raise Asia’s voice in global giving

Social Business Profile: Saving 9 – the first aid pioneers in Pakistan


Photo credit: Freepik

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