Accelerating Impact Enterprises: How to Lock, Stock and Anchor Impact Enterprises for Maximum Impact

By Cathy Clark, Matthew H. Allen, Bonny Moellenbrock and Chinwe Onyeagoro

As a potential extension of its pioneering work on impact investing, the Rockefeller Foundation commissioned us to be part of a global research consortium aiming to understand the needs of impact enterprises around the globe. One of the foundation’s initial questions was, if impact investors are the supply side, providing capital, what are the evolving needs of the demand side, those receiving it? What activities could foundations, governments and other institutions take to be sure the impact enterprises, these tireless small companies working to create lasting improvements on communities, both domestically and globally, succeed to their greatest potential? Together, the consortium met throughout the year to set common definitions, discuss research questions, and share early findings. The first task was to create a common working definition of Impact Enterprises (IEs). The group deliberated and decided the term would refer to financially self-sustainable and scalable ventures that actively manage toward producing significant net positive changes in well-being across underserved individuals, their communities, and the broader environment. Our slice of the work was the domestic market; we focused on performing a landscape scan of privately-owned, for-profit Impact Enterprises headquartered in the United States that generate less than $25 million in annual revenues. Our report and findings on this landscape speak to the evolving terrain that underlies this inquiry.

SJF Institute, CASEi3, O-H Community, 2013 May