G8/social impact investing
David Cameron opened the G8 pre-summit event devoted to the prospect of social impact investing for public social cohesion policies. The promotion of the impact investing concept and the presentation of tools dedicated to it – such as social impact bonds, the Social Stock Exchange and the Big Society Capital bank, equipped with £600 million for social investment – were the topics of debate.
The Minister Delegate for the Social and Mutually-Supportive Economy [Benoît Hamon] spoke to his counterparts from the British and American governments, as well as to an audience of investors, bank representatives and social businesses. If we make a comparison with the other participating countries, France can already be seen to have very significant impact investing experience, enjoying strong public support and focusing on the domestic market.
Benoît Hamon recalled that the crisis has created new social needs demanding regulated coordination of actions by the authorities and private financiers. The strategy France has established is one of shared construction by the public and private players in the social and mutually-supportive economy.
In France, solidarity savings in very diverse forms (direct investors, solidarity funds and financiers, etc.) fund the majority of French impact investing, totalling €900 million at the end of 2011. The French effort also involves large companies’ dedicated funds, risk capital funds and funds devoted to particular issues (social housing, integration through employment, the environmental transition etc.). In the broader impact investing sense, it includes French voluntary organizations distributing microcredit. Finally, the role of the public players, particularly the Caisse des Dépôts [state-owned financial institution which carries out public interest missions on behalf of French central, regional and local authorities] and bpifrance [Public Investment Bank], is key to the French system. The section of the Public Investment Bank dedicated to financing the social and mutually-supportive economy will reach [capital of] €500 million.
This visit also provided Benoît Hamon with the opportunity to talk to his British counterpart, Nick Hurd; Sir Ronald Cohen, Chairman of Big Society Capital; and Jonathan Greenblatt, President Obama’s special adviser on social innovation. This last meeting enabled us to endorse the principle of a visit to New York and Washington.
In the margins of this forum, Benoît Hamon declared: “I welcome the fact that the United Kingdom has put this subject on the G8 agenda; it highlights the extremely topical nature of issues related to the financing of the social and mutually-supportive economy and the convergence of commitment levels, particularly between France and the “Anglo-Saxon” countries, even if the policies go on to be different”./.