David Floyd: The growth of the social investment market

Plus: a long way to go on social impact bonds and the Skoll World Forum

David Floyd
David Floyd

In 2012, researchers at Boston Consulting Group published The First Billion, which predicted the growth of the social investment market after the creation of Big Society Capital. At the time, the market was estimated to be worth £200m. In late March this year, a BSC report gave it a headline value of £1.5bn for a wide range of investments in social activities, though the figure for the deals the Boston Consulting Group was talking about – investment in socially structured organisations in the past year – was put at £309m.

Only £18m has been invested, ever, in social impact bonds, and only £2m in the past year. Charity minister Rob Wilson pledged, remember, to create a £1bn market for SIBs in this parliament.

At this year's Skoll World Forum in Oxford, social enterpreneurship luminaries agreed social change was more vital than ever and congratulated themselves on being so awesome at delivering it. The strapline for the forum, "Fierce Compassion", provoked an outburst of equally incongruent tributes from the sector: Twitter hashtags included #accurateempathy and #humbleviciousness.

Alongside Skoll, the unofficial fringe festival Marmalade explored practical social innovation. I was involved in Foundational Thinking, a two-day event with the modest aim of "exploring how foundations can contribute to revolutionising the ecosystem of finance and support for charities and social enterprises". It came up with 11 half-decent ideas.

David Floyd is managing director of Social Spider CIC, which provides research and training

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