The language of social investment is challenging and needs to be approached carefully as the inequality argument may play well with social workers but it risks switching off the investor community…

Impact Investing Potential A World Changer

International keynote speaker Durreen Shahnaz has hailed impact investing for its potential to change the world to an Australian audience of top social finance experts at the Social Marketplace conference in Sydney recently.

Speaking at the event’s executive dinner, Shahnaz, founder of the world’s first social stock exchange, championed social capital markets as a way to promote inclusion worldwide and solve inequality between rich and poor.

Inclusion, Shahnaz said, was characterised by “the democratization of the entire capital markets where everyone is an issuer and an investor, a capital markets that works for all and is a blessing for all”.
“A vibrant marketplace is created where actors who value social, environmental and financial returns come together,” she said.

Shahnaz, a native of Bangladesh, recalled her modest upbringing in the country and lamented the growing gulf in Asia between the “haves” and “have-nots” – a region with a booming middle class but more than 1.1 billion people suffering from multidimensional poverty.

“There is not enough dollars for philanthropy and not enough hearts in capital markets to solve this inequitable growth,” Shahnaz said.

“Social Capital Markets means organisations are, on one hand, not focused on profit maximization at any cost and on the other hand not relying on unreliable philanthropic grants.”
Shahnaz’s Social Capital Markets brought together social enterprises, impact investors and other stakeholders part of what she termed the impact investing “ecosystem”.