Supporting enterprises that emphasise social innovation
In an Australian-first for an aid organisation, Save the Children has launched an impact investment fund, aimed at supporting enterprises that emphasise social innovation and address pressing social and humanitarian issues.
The Impact Investment Fund is just one part of Save the Children’s forward-focused strategy to respond to unprecedented change and volatility in the areas in which we operate, decreasing government funding and increasing demand for our services.
Here, CEO Paul Ronalds explains the rationale and operation of this exciting new initiative.
Why is Save the Children launching the Impact Investment Fund?
We know that traditional development approaches alone will not be enough to solve the world’s social challenges, recent events both in Australia and abroad have underlined this fact.
Unprecedented demand for our services, including from increasingly severe and frequent disasters, means we must find new sources of funding for social innovation. This includes finding ways to leverage private sector investment. We are also excited by the potential of new technologies to help us address social problems in new ways. Breakthroughs in edtech, fintech and ehealth offer the opportunity to deliver services more efficiently and effectively.
To make a meaningful difference in children’s lives, quite simply, more effort and money needs to flow to innovative and entrepreneurial approaches and too often, social entrepreneurs demonstrate early success but have few financing options to help them grow their businesses and achieve social impact to the necessary scale.
We believe the Impact Investment Fund is a critical tool to helping address such issues.
Are there preferred types of social enterprise that the fund hopes to attract?
The fund intends to invest in enterprises with a strong business model, some revenue and a robust measurement approach to social impact, supporting vulnerable children and families.
We’ve already developed a pipeline of potential investments. These include a tech start-up developing a platform for electronic cash transfers during emergencies, an agency specialising in child protection, training and certification and an innovative health organisation which aims to reduce child deaths from pneumonia in developing communities.
Disaster preparedness, mitigation and recovery are central to our work, increasingly so in the context of climate change-influenced disasters. We see firsthand the effects of climate change in the areas in which we operate, both in Australia and abroad.
Our Impact Investment Fund aims to support enterprises that work to find ways to best position communities and the aid sector to address these and other significant social and humanitarian challenges.
Do you see this approach becoming increasingly important to your business model and that of the sector more broadly?
In a word: Yes. We know that the private sector must play an increasing role if the Sustainable Development Goals are to be met. Organisations like Save the Children are well placed to facilitate this link between the private sector and the innovative social enterprises which operate at this leading edge.
We certainly envisage the social and International Non-Government Organisation sector collaborating with private capital in an increasing role in future. It’s a no-brainer if we’re to address the significant challenges we face.