ATLANTA – June 12, 2018 – After an exhaustive, year-long study on the state of impact investing in Georgia, the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative (GSIC) has issued a final report on the initial stage of a network mapping project. The report describes the findings from Phase 1 of an initiative to develop the Georgia Social Impact Map (the Map), a dynamic and sustainable resource designed to stimulate greater opportunities for investing in social good in the region.
The practice of using impact investing as a tool for scaling social solutions has exploded over the past 10 years. Defined as investing that produces both a financial as well as a social return, impact investments domestically now total over $8.7 trillion, according to the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (US SIF). Yet Georgia’s participation in the impact investing market has been limited despite the availability of vast resources and investors searching for ways to tackle social issues of common concern. As a result, the founders of GSIC – community leaders engaged in philanthropy, local and global impact investing, social enterprise and professional services – launched a broad ecosystem-level effort to support greater impact investing throughout Georgia. GSIC’s first major initiative is the Map.
To complete Phase 1 of the Map, GSIC, along with Advantage Consulting and a team of interns, interviewed nearly 150 of the state’s stakeholders – social enterprises, intermediaries, philanthropic and private investors – to better understand the existing assets, gaps and interest in further leveraging impact investing for Georgia-based organizations. Findings from the interviews were conclusive and telling:
- Nearly 80% of GA investors have either invested in a social enterprise or expressed interest in making future investment;
- At the same time, 78% of GA’s social enterprises are seeking investment capital.
Khurram Hassan, Partner at Advantage Consulting, observed that “the data clearly showed the social impact marketplace in Atlanta and Georgia is eager for investors and enterprises to be brought together by intermediaries and an organization like GSIC. It will be interesting to see how the stakeholders take next steps in building on the existing ecosystem.”
Though there’s clear interest in socially-minded money on both ends of the spectrum, Phase 1 confirmed GSIC’s original assumptions that investors and potential investees are having difficulty connecting and closing on impact capital.
According to Sam Moss, chair of GSIC: “those of us involved in GSIC’s creation knew idiosyncratically what was going on in the market and each of us would randomly introduce investors to opportunities. But we recognized that each of us had blind spots. We thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great to study what’s going on, find out what the interconnections are, identify what the investors are interested in?’ It was really a wonderful coming together to figure out what’s actually going on here in Georgia.”
The report concludes that this project has the potential to “inspire a surge in impact investing and create a more robust pipeline of opportunities that align capital with community challenges.” And “there is a market in Georgia for a virtual platform that allows social change makers to tell their stories, inspire others, and connect to emerging social impact venture opportunities.” The full report on the social impact ecosystem is available on GaSocialImpact.com.
Ron Alston, Senior Vice President of SunTrust Bank’s nonprofit banking group and a guest speaker at the event, stated that “My sincere hope is that [we can]…create an ecosystem that brings all constituents together to talk about how we make investments in a way that helps the entire community.”
The goal of the Map is to provide a bridge between the social enterprises that seeking capital and the investors that have mission-oriented capital. The report seemed to also confirm the expectation that investors and investees tend to align around specific issues areas, such as homelessness, housing, education or healthcare.
As GSIC’s project leader, Mark Crosswell explained that “by launching Phase 2 of the Map now, we are answering the call of the research to provide a dynamic and feature-rich resource that helps connect investors with social entrepreneurs focused on impact areas the investors care about.” Phase 2 begins immediately and should conclude with the roll out of web-based platform by this October. To include a network map, the website will also provide information on community events, intermediaries and programming that supports impact investing, as well as real-life examples and ways for stakeholders to connect. The Map will be hosted and available on GaSocialImpact.com in October.
About the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative
In late 2016, a group of Atlanta’s community leaders, representing a diverse range of constituencies, came together to confront a shared concern that impact investing was not developing in Georgia at the pace seen elsewhere. Working as an informal collaborative, the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative (GSIC) was formed as a collective effort to encourage impact investing across the state. The group identified several initial priorities, including the Map and other educational programming, designed to accelerate the development of Georgia’s impact investing ecosystem.
For more information: Mark Crosswell, project leader for the Map at [email protected].