Good Deals 2010

The U.K. Social Investment Conference, Good Deals 2010, represents a versatile and highly innovative platform seeking to further the collaborative efforts between investors and investees for the sake of “socially responsible investing.”  Broadly speaking, this is an investment strategy seeking to maximize financial returns while simultaneously promoting practices and issues such as human rights, consumer protection, and environmental stewardship.  The stated goal of the conference, which ran from November 15-16, is to “address the hot topics facing both the investor and the investee, encourage debate and the sharing of knowledge so that innovative investors and inspirational social entrepreneurs can get good deals done.”

Representing Wellspring International, Naomi Zacharias sat in on the conference to hear from some of the top names in social investment.  Among the participants were Global Head of Research for JP Morgan, Nick O’Donohoe, and U.K. government advisor and social investor, Nat Wei.  These and other leading social entrepreneurs and investors convened to discuss the expansion of the social investment marketplace.

One specific item under discussion at the conference is known as a Social Impact Bond.  A Social Impact Bond consists of “a contract between a public sector body (Government branch) and Social Impact Bond investors, in which the former commits to pay for an improved social outcome,” provided the desired social outcome is achieved.  This “unique funding mechanism” aims to unite both humanitarians and stakeholders in a relationship of mutual benefit.

An apt example of this would be the Re-offending Social Impact Bond launched March 18, 2010.  The U.K. Ministry of Justice has agreed to partner with this particular Social Impact Bond in funding “social organisations working to reduce the re-offending rates of short sentence male prisoners leaving Peterborough Prison,” provided “re-offending is reduced below an agreed threshold.”  The Ministry of Justice, former convicts, social organizations and investors all stand to benefit from this Social Impact Bond if the initiative is successful.

Aspiring social entrepreneurs also presented ideas for audience feedback at the conference.  Once presented, the audience voted whether it was a “rocket-ship to the moon” idea, or whether it would have a better chance of succeeding “when pigs fly.” The conference also set up exhibitions showcasing current opportunities for social investment.  Good Deals 2010 represents one of the more cutting-edge approaches to pressing social problems such as human rights, re-offenders, and consumer protection, and it is an encouragement to know that such valuable resources are being utilized for the purposes of dire human needs.

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