A profile of Ronald Cohen, & his current fascination with Social Impact Bonds and the broader social investment market…

Global Impact

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, venture capital and private equity were a glint in people’s eyes, says Sir Ronald Cohen, founder of Apax Partners, but institutions felt something exciting was about to happen in the space.

Today, Cohen – the so called “father of British venture capital” – has a sense of déjà vu, because he feels impact investing is at the same stage in its evolution and the industry is set to take off.

The term, which is a current buzzword both in philanthropy and investment circles, describes investment made in companies that deliver a measurable social or environmental benefit, but can still deliver a financial return to investors. And the concept has been garnering interest among family offices.

Speaking at a conference on impact investing held in October in London, Cohen – who also co-founded Bridges Ventures and is the current chair of Big Society Capital – is wearing his newer “father of social investment” hat.

He says impact investing is “an idea whose time has come”, and as chair of a new G8 task force, established in June by the UK government as part of its G8 presidency, he will recommend the best framework to create a global and sustainable social impact investment market.

Joining the task force from outside the G8 are the European Union and Australia – ensuring its recommendations are far-reaching.