Rod Schwartz is CEO of ClearlySo, a company that helps social entrepreneurs raise capital. He was a leading analyst on Wall Street before shifting his focus to helping grow the social investment marketplace and build a more social economy. Described as ‘the leading advocate and supporter of social enterprise.’ by Peter Tyson of the Body Shop, he founded Catalyst Fund Management & Research in 1997, followed by ClearlySo in 2009, which provides social enterprises with business support and strategic advice.
Since opening their doors for business back in 2001, Social Investment Scotland (SIS) has supported 107 organisations in 23 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities with loans of more than £11 million. Projects that have benefited from the funding are worth in excess of £60 million and tackle a range of social issues including employment and training, health, arts and culture and the environment.
But what social impact has SIS had through their investment?
It’s an important question and a recent assessment of 58 social enterprises and community organisations provide some answers.
For some, social investment opens up a world of opportunities.
For others, it represents the demise of the social economy. These people are sceptical about the motives of investors. They're also concerned that private sector financing will force social enterprises to become too focused on making money - and lose sight of their environmental and social goals.
But given the increasing challenges we are face within our communities, the lack of public sector funding available to support social and environmental services, and the growing interest in impact investment: it would be wise to consider new - and possibly better - ways of doing things.
Crowd sourced investment is buzzing. It has supported products ranging from luxury soap to financial services. People have become “armchair dragons” and “crowd funding” has created a new market place that anyone can participate in.
Counter Culture - a sustainability and communications firm dedicated to helping businesses, NGOs, and entrepreneurs take advantage of social enterprise opportunities - launched its website today.