The Impact World this Week: 16 May 2024

Your quick guide to the most interesting news snippets about social enterprise, impact investment and mission-driven business around the world from the Pioneers Post team. This week: have B Corps failed to nail their comms? More $$$ for Australian social enterprises. And guess the new name for GSG.

Australia: Tuesday was a g’day for social enterprises in Australia as the 2024-25 federal budget included a $21.9m commitment to fund social enterprises and other businesses that assist people with complex barriers to work, and pay real wages. An additional $1.5m over two years was committed to support the certification of an expected 500 social enterprises which support people to get jobs. The budget was welcomed by Social Enterprise Australia and Social Traders, which has delivered Australia's certification programme for seven years. 

Tunisia: There has been a lot of impact occurring in Tunisia this week as Impact Europe and Impact Partner’s EU-funded Impact Together programme announced its first grants. The programme aims to bolster the social economy in the MENA region. Five Tunisian social enterprises – Dowit, Wayout, Olissey, Archiv'art and Iley'com – were chosen from an initial 160 applications to receive grants of up to €30,000. Both Impact Partner (formerly Yunus Social Business Tunisia) and Impact Europe will continue to provide guidance to the selected social entrepreneurs. 

US: A fund classed as “one of the largest BIPOC-led impact investing funds” closed at $171m on 14 May, with the backing of investments from more than 20 organisations, including Charles Schwab Bank, The Kresge Foundation and US Bancorp Impact Finance. The Equitable Prosperity Fund I is the first fund of Momentus Capital, a family of mission-driven financial organisations driving community and economic development through direct lending, impact investments and training. The fund is aimed at helping growth-stage social enterprises led by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of colour) entrepreneurs create more social impact in their underserved communities, including increasing access to healthcare and healthy foods.

England: Funding for community business must be more affordable, flexible and accessible, says community business support charity Power to Change. Financing the future economy: How community businesses can access the right finance to achieve their ambitions, published this week, calls on funders, social investors and government to address the complex finance landscape for community business, 48% of which operate in the 30% most disadvantaged areas in England. Alongside urging funders and investors to reduce grant dependency and provide investment that acknowledges combined social and economic value, the report also recommends that the next UK government adopts a cross-governmental social economy strategy and introduces a successor to Social Investment Tax Relief.

UK: More than three quarters of the UK public believes that the law should ascribe businesses a legal responsibility to prioritise people and planet alongside making profit, research conducted by B Corp accreditor B Lab UK finds. The research, which looks into UK public opinion on business responsibility, was published on 16 May, this year’s Better Business Day, designated by the Better Business Act campaign. The campaign, led by B Lab UK and a coalition of businesses, calls for an amendment to Section 172 of the Companies Act, to incorporate creating social and environmental impact into the ‘job description’ of company directors. The research indicates that support for a change in the law spans across the political party divides, with 85% of Labour supporters, 70% of Conservative supporters, and 89% of both Liberal Democrat and Green Party supporters saying that they were in favour of the proposed amendment.

Global: Awareness of the B Corp brand remains low in spite of 2,000 companies around the world obtaining B Corp certification last year, according to the 2023 annual report published by B Lab, the non-profit organisation behind the B Corp certification. The report shows B Corps globally grew steadily to 8,000 last year, with the UK as the fastest-growing market, and substantial growth in North America and Europe. The certification is also gaining traction in new markets such as South East Asia, which has seen its number of B Corps nearly double over 2023. The number of publicly-traded companies gaining certification grew from 46 to 65, suggesting the B accreditation is becoming more mainstream, but a survey mentioned in the report showed that just 25% of people globally had heard of B Corps.

GSG logoGlobal: The Global Steering Group for Impact Investment this week became GSG Impact, in a rebrand of the organisation that aims to develop impact investing around the world. Regional organisations in its global network – now known as the GSG Impact Partnership – will be referred to as National Partners (instead of National Advisory Boards). It comes as other organisations in the impact sector have decided to revamp their brand, including Big Society Capital becoming Better Society Capital and EVPA becoming Impact Europe – perhaps a sign that the organisations that pioneered impact investing a decade ago are now embracing a  “new era” of impact becoming more mainstream, as GSG Impact’s chief strategy officer said.

Movers and Shakers

  • Myrna Atalla is stepping down as executive director of Alfanar Venture Philanthropy, a venture philanthropy organisation in the Arab region. A new executive director is being recruited by Odgers Berndtson.
  • Sarah Teacher and Bella Landymore have been appointed co-CEO’s of the UK’s Impact Investing Institute. Keiron Boyle is the new chair, and former chair Dame Elizabeth Corely becomes chair emerita.

Global: A new type of journalism can support the systems change that so many changemakers want to see. “It’s easy to do a beautiful story where vulnerable populations in the Global South are portrayed as victims, but often they are the protagonists.” Brazilian journalist Yael Berman wants to see more journalists telling the stories of the people around the world who are making positive changes in their communities. She was speaking at last week’s Catalysing Change Week webinar about how solutions journalism – rigorous reporting on responses to widespread social and environmental problems – can support systems change, hosted by Pioneers Post’s Anna Patton and also featuring Ben Wrobel of Proximate.

UK: Brown backs bonds. A £1bn children’s social impact bond would help ensure that the UK’s “blighted generation, the children of austerity” have a better future. Former prime minister Gordon Brown flagged the “worldwide success of social impact bonds” this week, calling for the chancellor Jeremy Hunt to pledge to attack child poverty in September’s financial statement.