September 15, 2017

GSG Impact Summit 2017


The GSG is an independent global steering group catalysing impact investment and entrepreneurship to benefit people and the planet. The GSG was established in August 2015 as the successor to and incorporating the work of the Social Impact Investment Taskforce established under the UK´s presidency of the G8. The GSG currently has 17 countries plus the EU as members. Chaired by Sir Ronald Cohen, the GSG brings together leaders from the worlds of finance, business government and philanthropy.

In mid-July 560 impact investors, entrepreneurs, financial intermediaries, foundation leaders, government representatives, non-profit and social impact practitioners gathered in Chicago to take on a key challenge in today’s global economy: How to move impact investing to its tipping point. Sir Ronald Cohen, Chairman of the GSG expects this to happen already by 2020. In order to reach that goal, Cohen suggested that the GSG and its member countries should focus on three milestones:

· to grow the number of GSG member countries from 15 to 30;

· to touch 1 of 3 poor, or 1 billion people;

· and to grow the market size from $150b to $300b.

During the following discussion Ronald Cohen and Amit Bhatia, CEO of the GSG, admitted that these key goals had been formulated mainly with the US and the UK in mind. In other GSG-member-countries, developments were different (timewise, legally, regarding the volume of investable capital etc.) and this was something which the GSG had learned to understand.

Alignment on impact investing. As expected, the response by the audience was manifold. Especially from European delegates there came some critical remarks. Some said the three main goals were a bit simplistic and that there was a need for an alignment of the different definitions regarding impact investing. One delegate asked for the GSG to bring more of the non-converted to the table. Further, it would help to share thoughts and ideas with practitioners (investees, aid agencies) so that it would become more feasible to figure out what they want from investors.

National/local political contexts. There was a general sentiment that GSG’s goals are ambitious and although recent developments in France and Japan on the legislative level have been promising, every member country could only operate based on the given legal and political prerequisites. For that reason it would be necessary for all stakeholders involved to understand that the GSG can only sustainably grow bottom-up and not top-down.

Further, Ronald Cohen explained four main roles for the GSG, that were widely accepted:

1. Legitimization (towards government, financial markets etc.);

2. Uniting social and environmental issues;

3. Peer-learning and support through knowledge platform;

4. Alliances with other networks. Overlaps with GIIN, EVPA or AVPN shouldn’t be an issue.

New members. It was confirmed that Argentinia/Uruguay (counts as one member) and Finland have become new members. This means that the GSG now has 16 members (15 countries + EU).

The 2018 GSG Summit will presumably be staged in Delhi, India.

Kindly supported by

European Commission

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