As Cascadia Foodshed Financing Project works at the intersection of food, finance, and philanthropy to transform the Pacific Northwest regional food system, we ask the question, “how good is good enough?” with regards to individual investment opportunities. Does the investment meet a need expressed by the community? What ripple effects might the investment have? Social impact advisor Katherine Pease of KP Advisors asks this critical question of the impact investing field at large.
In a recent report, In Pursuit of Deeper Impact, Pease challenges the status quo of impact investing as “conventional impact investment practices often fail to incorporate an analysis of the root causes of inequality”. As a result, impact investing works often as a series of isolated transactions that yield measurable positive social and environmental outputs, but fail to contribute to the transformation of deep and systemic causes of inequity. This is a tension that resonates with the logic and model gap between investment for enterprise success and systems change that CFFP uncovered through market research analysis with Ecotrust in 2016:
So what can we do, as impact investors who are serious about laboring towards deep and lasting transformation in our food system?
This report submits practical recommendations for investing towards deep social equity – some of which are totally in line with CFFP’s current approach, and some from which we could benefit to learn. The recommendations are informed by the work of leaders and field-builders in impact investing and impact evaluation, including the GIIN, Ford Foundation, RSF Social Finance, and Sonen Capital among others. Scattered throughout the report, case studies from funds and philanthropies around the globe present the challenges and triumphs of taking on such strategies. Overall, we get a very down-to-earth picture of what it looks like to invest for deep and lasting social equity.
Here are some highlights that speak to CFFP’s current approach and our remaining questions:
– Christine Looney, Ford Foundation
Continue exploring strategies for deeper impact and investments that contribute to systems change in the full report:
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As part of its own research, CFFP regularly illuminates educative research, media, and resources related to our work. This page contains public versions of our synopses.