The Big Society Capital team and I returned to the virtual office after the Christmas break refreshed and full of enthusiasm. 2022 will be an extremely important year for us – ten years since Big Society Capital was launched - and a perfect opportunity to reflect on what’s been achieved, what we’ve learned and what more there is to do.
Ten years ago, Big Society Capital was created as an independent institution to promote the development of the social impact investment market in the UK. Our remit was and remains to help develop and build that market through increasing the flow of capital from investors, supporting social enterprises and charities who wish to access investment, and developing and supporting ideas for new investment opportunities that will make a significant positive difference to people in the UK.
Over those ten years we have signed commitments to invest nearly £800 million of capital with over £1.5 billion of co-investment alongside us. Since we launched Good Finance in 2017 to help social enterprises and charities navigate the world of social impact investment, it has provided information to over 330,000 unique users and around 40% have proceeded to further explore taking on social impact investment. In terms of investment opportunities, we have reviewed over 400 potential investments, carried out due diligence on over 200, and made over 100 investments reaching over 1,500 organisations across the UK.
And our work is just part of the overall social impact investment market which has grown from £833 million in 2011 to over £6.4 billion in 2021. With increasing interest from a range of investors, it is only set to grow further. Our new strategy set out our ambitions for the growth of the market – aiming to at least double its size to between £10-15 billion by 2025.
My hope is that our anniversary this year will provide many opportunities to further raise awareness and bring social impact investment to a broader audience.
The Year Ahead
For this year, our focus will be on delivering our plans across four market systems; social property, social lending, impact venture and social outcomes contracts, as well as continuing to share our learning in the impact management and measurement arena.
We have ambitious targets across all areas, whether that’s securing commitment from Government to improving the delivery of public services through social outcomes contracts, reaching more underrepresented groups or communities through social lending investments, supporting impact startups to become the impact unicorns of the future, or encouraging social property funds to adopt strong impact management practice.
With the Dormant Assets Bill passing through Parliament and discussions underway on guarantees and tax incentives, we will be redoubling our efforts to help create the positive policy environment for social impact investment to thrive.
We will continue to build on the success of the Schroder BSC Social Impact Trust which has made good progress since launch, with investments supporting over 100 enterprises that are making a difference across the country.
We will also be collaborating with a range of sector partners with the aim of developing a movement to grow support for catalytic capital here in the UK. This work will identify the barriers to growing the supply of catalytic capital and recommend ways forward. Alongside this, we will continue our innovation programme – Ideas for Impact – developing early-stage impact fund ideas.
On Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), we are committed to making faster progress and are working with the Diversity Forum and Social Investment Forum to achieve this. Examples of initiatives to date include our EDI action plan and our Addressing Imbalance programme, being run by Good Finance, which are seeking to systematically improve the environment for minority-led social enterprises.
Working with partners
We are very proud of what Big Society Capital has achieved and helped others to achieve over the last ten years, but we also realise there is still much more to do. We are very excited to continue working with our partners to fulfil our mission of uniting more capital, expertise and ideas to improve the lives of people in the UK.
As always, we continue to engage with participants from all corners of the social impact investment ecosystem and remain open to new ideas and to challenge. It’s only through working with our partners and networks that we can hope to further grow this market and meet the ambitious goals that we’ve set for the coming years.
We are looking forward to sharing our experiences of the last ten years, celebrating successes that can be replicated and help the market continue to grow. We know not everything we’ve tried has been successful and this anniversary is also an opportunity to recognise that, applying those learnings to our own work and sharing lessons with other participants in the market.
Stay tuned to LinkedIn and Twitter to keep up to date with plans for this exciting year.