ARUN was established in 2009 to practice social investment. From the time of its establishment, ARUN has supported entrepreneurs in developing countries and social businesses in the form of investment, recognizing the importance of both business feasibility and social awareness.
In December, ARUN celebrates its 5th year, advancing to a new stage of its growth. At the same time, the numbers of promoters of social and impact investment has increased, creating a global network of people who share the same goal. In Japan as well, we feel the increased interests in social investment.
We also have been receiving an increasing number of questions such as; “What type of success can you have in social investment?”, “What exactly does ‘social’ mean?”, “Are business feasibility (finance) and social awareness both truly achievable?” and “How do you set monitoring and evaluating standards?”
In order to answer such questions, we would like to start a series on social evaluation in this newsletter, based on ARUN’s experiences.
As the first part of this series, I would like to briefly introduce the concept and background of social investment and impact investment.
The year 2009, the year ARUN was established, is also the period when social investment and impact investment started to gain momentum for rapid expansion. The concept of Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) started in the 1990’s and encouraged people to pay attention to the relationship between various social problems that surround environment, employment, health and safety, education, welfare and human rights, and corporate activities, as well as prompted them to actively invest in the social value that the companies created.
In 2007, the word ‘impact investment’ was used for the first time at the Rockefeller Foundation’s conference in the Bellagio Center, Italy, followed by the rapid increase in the number of players of impact investment, such as development assistance organizations, private funds, government organizations, financial organizations, social enterprises, social entrepreneurs and NGOs.(1)
As the numbers of the players of impact investment and the amount of investment increases, needs for the establishment of quantitative and qualitative evaluation framework of the impact of investment, social aspects of the enterprise, and effects of the development are discussed frequently. For example, for a social enterprise, efforts are made to visualize its social values and development impact that cannot be measured by financial value, or a method to compare and evaluate different social enterprises horizontally, and furthermore, efforts to develop evaluation methods to prioritize multiple businesses efficiently and effectively.
Such debates are happening all around the globe, and ARUN has been working on the social monitoring and evaluation of the invested enterprises through many discussions among the investors (partners). Although it is a process of trial and error, ARUN researches and analyzes the social evaluation methods used by major overseas organizations so they would be applicable to the realities of ARUN’s invested businesses. ARUN modifies them by exploring the realistic operation through local interviews and workshops.
As for the social monitoring and evaluation methods, many exist worldwide. According to JP Morgan and GINN’s global research on impact investment (2), 96% of investors use some kind of evaluation methods, which shows that social and impact investment and their monitoring and evaluation methods are closely connected.
I will introduce kinds of social evaluation methods and their purpose and categories next time.
1. The Rockefeller Foundation (2012). “Accelerating Impact: Achievements, Challenges and What’s Next in Building the Impact Investment Industry”
2. JP Morgan and GIIN (2013). “Perspectives on the Progress: The impact investor Survey”.
Here are some of ARUN’s reports on the concepts of social evaluation in investments and the world trends of social investment, presented in the International Symposium on Social Investment.
1st International Symposium Report:
2nd International Symposium Program: