There is a lot of money sloshing around the world, and more and more of it is looking towards impact investments. At the same time, more and more impact-oriented organizations are trying to grab a piece of the earmarked capital and make that money work to further their own mission and values. The question is how do intrapreneurs take an organization's core competencies and apply an impact investment angle to it? More specifically, what are the action steps to reframe the internal mindset around where corporate investment dollars are going and reposition the capital to further the organization’s missions and values in closer alignment to social and environmental issues?
The first step is changing the internal mindset of what capital can achieve. For a NGO, it could mean transitioning from using disposable capital (i.e., philanthropy and grants) to extending the lifecycle of expendable capital (e.g., revolving grant facilities and early-stage investing). And for a commercial organization, it could mean providing more long-term, patient capital to early-stage investments and to partner with other organizations to magnify the impact of investments.
We will explore how intrapreneurs, whether at a NGO or corporation, reposition corporate venture capital in a way that is additional to the impact investment space, leverage the core capabilities of the organization, and structure an internal impact fund for success.
Mercy Corps Ventures is an NGO that has successfully navigated its internal bureaucracy to form a corporate venture capital fund. UNICEF USA has an existing and well-established revolving fund – the Bridge Fund – that provides critical working capital to UNICEF. It is in process of expanding its role in the impact investing space and carving out its internal role within the larger United Nations ecosystem.