Thursday, November 06, 2014


By Margo

The word “markets” harkens back to vibrant community squares where people came to trade goods and services. Markets were the most efficient way to serve the needs of the people – milk traded for eggs, beans traded for meat, vegetables traded for textiles.  Today, markets have come to mean something entirely different.  Modern markets aim for maximum monetary profit for investors.

Our markets need to re-calibrate to maximize benefit for the people.

Over the past year I've been on the Steering Committee planning a new conference called IMPACT Texas, which aims to address new ways to direct the power of the market toward essential innovations in health, education and sustainable energy.

Neither traditional philanthropy nor current market practices have profoundly addressed the increasing wealth disparity in society, nor the dire consequences we face due to our dependence on fossil fuels. The goal of impact investing is to develop dynamic capital sources and delivery systems to fuel scalable social enterprise that brings about meaningful change.

Current funding sources for social enterprise generally bado cams have a low risk tolerance and short time frame, impeding the experimentation critical to innovation.  Philanthropic and government funds are often required to be used for direct services, consistently short-changing critical investments in infrastructure, advertising to develop markets, or even policy advocacy, all of which are primary investments for mainstream enterprises.

Poverty, global population growth and climate change are massive challenges. Most of the vast resources of our mainstream markets currently operate in virtual isolation from these challenges. Funding for solutions is relegated to the philanthropic sector, which reflects just 2% of our GDP. Most of this goes to higher education, hospitals and churches, leaving gravely inadequate resources to address the most central issues to the health of our society.

Impact investing has the potential to tap the tremendous resources of our mainstream markets, if we open our minds to the transformational opportunity to direct market forces toward a higher calling.