The misconception that companies that do good can’t make money and companies that make money can’t do good has never felt more wrong.
History is filled with examples of very profitable companies doing very good things in the world. Over the last few years, interest in for-profit, social-driven companies has given rise to impact investing, a category of investments made with the intention of getting both a measurable social and financial return.
Take, for example, the organic baby food company Happy Family, which donates a portion of sales to feed children in need. Since its launch in 2006, it’s provided more than 5 million meals to undernourished children. At the same time, it’s also managed to make a lot of money — particularly for its investors.
“Those people who gave me $550,000 in the beginning — maybe they thought they were doing me a favor,” said Shazi Visram, the founder of Happy Family, at a recent impact investing conference held by the Case Foundation in New York City. “But by the end, people were writing me million-dollar checks. And I will tell you the people who put in $550,000 at the very beginning got almost a 30 times return on their money,”.
For more on the growth of impact investing, have a look at the video, embedded below, of highlights from the Case Foundation summit. (Full disclosure: I moderated one of the three panels at the event, which was called Impact Investing as a Tool for Change.)