Cliff Prior joined Big Society Capital as CEO in March 2016. BSC is the wholesale investor and market champion for UK social impact investment. In its first 5 years, BSC has made over £1bn available with co-investors, with £750m already taken up by over 600 charities, social enterprises, and profit with purpose companies. Ahead of his session at FundForum International where he will join a panel presenting the most innovative funds in impact investing in the public and private equity space, we get a snapshot into Cliff's pioneering work.
What is your fund?
Big Society Capital is a unique financial institution, investing its proprietary capital through funds and intermediaries. We also act as a market champion for UK social impact investment. BSC was created in 2012 and capitalised to £625m from dormant accounts and four high street banks.
In our first 6 years, we have committed over £1.3bn with our co-investors, with £750m already taken up by over 600 enterprises with a social mission. There is now six times the amount of capital available to enterprises with a social mission in the UK and a growing number of mature and capable social impact fund managers and arrangers. Social impact investment in the UK is growing at 20 to 30% pa and we are increasingly seeing investors working in partnerships to tackle some of the toughest social challenges in the country.
We are currently working on an aggregated social impact investment product for external investors that wish to have deep and lasting impact in the UK.
How is it impacting SDGs?
BSC has a broad mandate across the range of social benefit. Our biggest areas are on tackling poverty, and underserved communities including homes for vulnerable people and community owned clean energy. Health and wellbeing, quality education, and reducing inequalities are also significant in our work.
What are other funds doing in the public and private equity space?
BSC has invested into more than 50 funds and social banks. Some have long experience and depth of skill, reach and capability, but others are first funds created to address key social issues. This leads us to put substantial effort into post investment support, including a “building blocks” self diagnostic system to help fund managers, advisors/arrangers and investor platforms to develop their organisations.
Over the last 3 years, we have seen a number of impact funds launched by well-regarded investment houses. These range from positively screened listed assets to large scale impact private equity funds. Many of these funds achieve a breadth of impact, whilst much of BSC’s universe achieve depth. It’s early days, but our hope is that we will see an unbroken pathway for successful social purpose ventures, from philanthropy through social impact investment to these new impact funds from mainstream managers, taking new solutions for social benefit from start up to full scale through stages of impact finance.