We are entrepreneurs, business leaders, and investors that believe companies and investments can generate value beyond financial returns. That it is possible to join profit and purpose. And that there is no better city for these kinds of enterprises and investments to prove themselves.
ImpactPHL, as its name suggests, calls Philadelphia home, but its hope for the region reflects a global movement.
If you’re in business or finance, the terms “impact” or “sustainability” are probably already on your radar. If not, the growing global trend is a topic that leaders as diverse as Larry Fink, the Pope, U2’s Bono, and local leaders like Jay Coen Gilbert and RoseAnn Rosenthal, would advise you have on your agenda.
As a strong signal for how business and investment is changing for the 21st century, leaders from Main Street to Wall Street are realigning values for the best interest of communities and the planet – not just the pockets of executives and shareholders. Larry Fink of BlackRock (the world’s largest asset manager with $6.4 trillion) proclaims all investments will be evaluated by ESG (environmental, social, governance) criteria within 5 years; Fortune 500 companies now release impact reports and advance sustainable supply chains; Social entrepreneurs weave their values into mission statements; And the list goes on.
Here in the Greater Philadelphia region, an increasing number of local leaders are growing this ecosystem in our own backyard – from Wharton Social Impact Initiative’s academic insight on place-based impact investment to actual place-based impact investment deals like First Step Staffing (a cross-sector collaboration to bring sustainable jobs to our region’s vulnerable residents). There are also a growing number of social enterprises like Wash Cycle Laundry and ROAR For Good and then there are real-estate efforts like Shift Capital, which drives positive change in communities suffering from inter-generational poverty. As Philadelphia puts practice to action at home, it is gaining attention as a model to watch nationally.
Solutions to this problem are simple, and they are not. They are simple because they revolve around educating businesses and investors on something they’re probably already interested in: doing good and making a difference. Solutions are not simple because most believe they have their do-gooding covered with donations of time and money, which only scratch the surface of opportunities for creating positive change.
To that end, ImpactPHL helps business leaders understand how the decisions made in their day-to-day operations affect their employees, the environment, and their local community. It begins with an assessment covering diverse aspects of the business such as employee compensation, diversity, environmental issues, supply chain, mission statements, and financial considerations. “We can’t expect them to be what they can’t see,” says Cory Donovan, ImpactPHL’s Program Manager, “so we help them take a look at their business through a different lens in a non-judgmental way.”
In addition to helping companies decrease their negative externalities and encourage positive ones, ImpactPHL seeks to engage and educate investors who want to align their money with their values. “Impact investing” is the practice of investing with the intention to generate positive social and environmental impact alongside financial returns. Since 2016-2017, the value of these kinds of investments doubled to $228 billion, so clearly the movement is gaining traction.
ImpactPHL aims to help more local residents align their capital in ways that help to not only create financial returns, but also create positive outcomes for the Philadelphia region. The non-profit does this by convening and educating and now hosts an annual conference to share best practices, showcase investment opportunities, and to connect investors with actionable opportunities.
For those who think there’s a better way, ImpactPHL provides a front door to learn, connect, and act enabling a sustainable, healthier, and more-inclusive Philadelphia region.<