Ronald Cohen takes his UK-centric social investment message on the road:

‘Invisible Heart’ Of Market Needed To Tackle World’s Problems – UK’s Cohen
Astrid Zweynert – Trust

Financial return and social performance need to be linked to make headway in solving the world’s problems, the head of an international taskforce set up to grow social investment has said.

“Equality of opportunity is an empty slogan nowadays,” Ronald Cohen, chairman of the Social Impact Investment Taskforce, told delegates at the opening of the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. “We need a revolution in how we tackle social issues, or we will lose our way as a society.”

The birth of social investment bank Big Society Capital in 2012 and the launch of the world’s first social impact bond in 2010 had been a breakthrough in Britain, Cohen said. Social impact bonds use private capital to fund social programmes that governments might not otherwise be able to afford.

“The breakthrough wasn’t the social impact bond itself,” Cohen said on Wednesday evening. “It was saying we’ve always presumed that you can’t measure the performance of a social organisation – and that is why they have had to rely on philanthropists.

“The linking of social performance and financial return is the key to the revolution, the key to the capital markets, the key to giving social entrepreneurs access to capital on the same basis as the for-profit entrepreneur.”