Maximpact.com has been in operation almost one year. And what a year it’s been for impact investing and for us.
The last twelve months have seen impact investing; in fact all forms of social and sustainable investing gain significant ground. We saw the Impact G8 in London and heard the buzz around impact grow louder. Some of the main infrastructure issues such as measurement and exits have begun to be addressed. The US has launched a huge impact investing initiative. Social Impact Bonds are beginning to prove their worth. And all over the world, new educational programs have been launched to train the impact professionals of the future.
Impact investing is on its way to becoming mainstream; and the range of opportunities for investors and businesses has never been broader.
For Maximpact it’s been a year of discovery. Recently someone asked me what the highlight of Maximpact’s first year has been. That’s a tough question in a 12-month period that’s seen us doing so many new things for the first time. Yet I suppose the highlight has been all the support we’ve had from all parts of the various sectors. We see this support very directly from the number of individual funds, intermediaries and funds listing on the deal site. And we’ve heard it through the user feedback, which has been very positive both in person and through our social media channels like Twitter and LinkedIn.
Users from many sectors including impact, sustainability, eco and green are telling us Maximpact is useful for networking, finding deals,identifying collaboration partners and securing investment. They also say it’s a good way to find new ideas and technologies and a way to deploy existing technologies for new uses. Our Newsstand resources feature has proved very popular. We’re also having more approaches from organizations and funds who want to collaborate with Maximpact; the EVPA is one example we’re proud of.
Surprises, good ones
This is everything we hoped for when we started out a year ago. Yet in some ways, the experience has been one big year-long surprise. I mean, we thought that our big tent approach would help the markets increase volume and gain momentum. Bringing CSR, eco and green, cleantech and sustainable investing all onto one platform was a strategy designed to open up the market and create more impact. We believed in the idea completely, but no one had tried it before and there’s always that fear that your brilliant concept won’t work in practice.
I’m very glad and relieved to say it does work. The industry has taken to the idea. There are signs that some of the old barriers are coming down, opening up the way for more investment, more impact. Now, with this year behind us, I can confidently encourage more people do what we’ve done: to innovate, to collaborate, to encourage collaboration and to accelerate change.To dive in and do their part.
That’s not to say there isn’t a lot more for us to do. There are quite a number of people that see the good in what Maximpact is doing but are still sitting on the sidelines. There are still whole parts of the sector that haven’t yet recognized the extraordinary potential in this kind of investing. We continue to try to draw these players in, to get them to try the platform and join the open community. The truth is that impact investing and other forms of sustainable investing need many approaches and innovators. We are doing it one way, but there will be other ways. We welcome this diversity.
What’s on the horizon
Anniversaries naturally make you look back; they also force you to look forward.
For the industry as a whole, we think the next growth phase is going to be very interesting. Responsible and sustainable practice is becoming the expected norm in all aspects of business, in all industries. Businesses that once made their “green” and “social” credentials a selling point, for example, now hardly even mention them. And yet in practice they may be more”green” and “social” than ever. These values are now almost taken for granted by the public as part of a new contract between business and society.
This revolution is being driven by public demand and by governments who see the benefit of a more sustainable approach. As an important part of this larger trend, the view of finance is also changing. We’re all heading toward socially conscious financing and investment. Philanthropic organizations are finding more synergies between market practices and mission goals. They have hugely valuable intellectual property and knowledge, which gives them an edge for pioneering some of these new models. All this will have a dramatic effect on the size of the social benefit, impact and eco and green investing markets in the coming year and far into the future.
For Maximpact, the challenge is to keep ahead of this fast-moving trend. This means continually streamlining our deal platform, making it more efficient, adding more users and more deals and doing everything we canto make it the most lively marketplace in the industry.
We’re also adding new services: video pitches that allow users take their deals directly to potential investors; software that gives enterprises the tools to become investment-ready; a boutique fee-based service to provide specialized professional expertise to the sustainable and social investors. And so much more; we’re rolling out new software products in just a few weeks, a move we’re all excited about.
What we’re building around Maximpact is a solution center for the whole industry. It’s all about putting vision together with the skills and tools of finance. We think the coming year is going to be even more exciting than the last; and we’re looking forward to it.