GOOD

The Rise Fund: A $2B Global Impact Fund

April 5, 2017

The field of social impact has evolved dramatically over the past few years. From the days of civil service to the rise of nonprofits to the present version of aligning social and business goals, social impact is constantly shifting, adapting to fit society’s needs.

The most current iteration has seen social values jump to the forefront of the business world. Companies like Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s have paved the way, demonstrating that you can hit a double bottom line for social goals and business goals. Larger institutions like The Rockefeller Foundation have taken it one step further by folding social impact into the world of finance with their leadership in impact investing.

In late 2016, industry heavyweights announced the creation of The Rise Fund, a new $2 billion global impact fund “committed to achieving social and environmental impact alongside financial returns.” Some of its backers include Bono, Jeff Skoll (first employee at eBay and founder of the Skoll Foundation and Participant Media), Laurene Powell Jobs (president of Emerson Collective), Richard Branson (founder of Virgin Group), Mo Ibrahim (founder of Celtel International), and Pierre Omidyar (founder of eBay), among others. Additionally, co-founder William McGlashan is a partner at the private equity firm, TPG Growth, where the fund will be housed. TPG will also collaborate with Elevar Equity and The Bridgespan Group.

The fund claims to have seven focus areas: education, energy, food and agriculture, financial services, health care, information and communication technology, and industrials and infrastructure.

It’s amazing to see so many strong names behind such a gargantuan collective effort. I’m encouraged to see priorities shifting, and I hope to see continued investment in the work that matters.

Nevertheless, I’m curious to see what will actually happen when it comes time to convert resources to action. When this much money gets pooled, sometimes the effective and efficient dissemination of that money becomes a challenge in and of itself. Social impact is infamous for claiming to conceptualize new solutions that, in reality, often look very similar to tried-and-true efforts. Is this just another form of impact investing? And if so, how effective will it be?

I don’t think anyone has the answers just yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.