Impact Investing Gathers Renewed Strength in First Days of Fall

by Mariana Garza

It’s not every day that Impact Investing makes financial headlines. So when it does, you know that the impact, will be of considerable monetary value. Some argue that for it to continue this upward trend, it has to go mainstream.

Although it’s working its way through the millennial ranks, it has yet to become a household name. Though these new renewed efforts do seem to be working towards that goal.

Salesforce, an American cloud computing company, is leveraging its own financial services to invest in companies that use its software to enact innovation in the fields of workplace development, equality, sustainability, and the social sector. How are they doing this? By using their own corporate capital to launch a $50 million Impact Investing Fund. The company has been inching its way to this big step by first starting Pledge 1%, an advisory program that over a thousand companies have adopted to donate 1% of their resources to charity. Then, the company decided that driving social good should be synonymous with driving good returns, the principle on which impact investing rests. The company went carbon neutral, 33 years before schedule, and started Salesforce Ventures, which has backed over 200 enterprise companies including Dropbox. This new impact investment fund is Salesforce Ventures baby, and the genius of it is that as each company they invest in succeeds, Salesforce succeeds along with a targeted part of society or an industry. A company they’ve already invested in, Angaza Design, is a pay-as-you-go platform for renewable energy products like solar lanterns; they largely operate in Africa and South Asia for off-grid costumers by means of mobile micro-payments.

In other news, Bono-backed Rise Fund raised $2billion, one of the largest impact investing funds ever. Similar to Salesforce Ventures, it targets deals that are ESG oriented in a variety of industries such as education, agriculture, energy, and healthcare. Of course, as product of collaboration between TPG Growth, Elevar Equity, and The Bridgespan Group, profits are important, so it’ll be interesting to closely watch their investments (and Salesforce’s) in the year to come.