At the recent Impact Investing In Action conference that took place in Atlanta from May 22-25, various players in the field gathered to discuss possible future directions for the impact investing industry. The focus was on early-stage impact investing, which was highlighted as a critical time for creating successful ventures.
By bringing together entrepreneurs and investors, host organization Agora Partnerships, aimed to identify some of the best impact investment opportunities out there and facilitate their evolution. Hand-picked entrepreneurs from Agora’s Accelerator Program and Village Capital’s Atlanta cohort pitched their ventures and investment needs to an audience from all sectors of the impact investing world, including representatives from investment funds, foundations and global development agencies, as well as those new to the field. Participants included organizations such as Toniic, Pomona Impact, the Inter-American Development Bank and The Eleos Foundation. In addition to pitches, the conference will feature panel discussions covering the art of getting deals done, building the field around impact investing, the future of early-stage investing and understanding the investor’s perspective.
There were 105 attendees at the conference, and 20 investment firms represented. The entrepreneurs pitched projects focused on specific areas where they intended to have a social impact, including economic development; energy and environment; education and culture; technology; and healthcare and housing.
In many ways, Agora Partnerships viewed the conference as a success: it began a conversation about the importance of and challenges involved in early-stage impact investing, and it created a space for action by presenting investors with entrepreneurs who plan to create impact through their ventures.
“We are a long way from building the market,” said Ben Powell, the CEO of Agora Partnerships (and who we’ve featured on Dowser before), reflecting on the conference. “We need to effectively channel resources to early-stage entrepreneurs best positioned to turn resources into long term impact.”
“There is unquestionable momentum,” he continued. “The industry has definitely taken notice of the simple fact that the future of impact investing depends on attracting the best entrepreneurs to launch impact-generating businesses, and then figuring out cost-effective, scalable strategies to get the right kind of capital to them.”
The success of impact investing, said Powell, hinges upon “the quality of entrepreneurs we attract into the industry and the support we provide them at the most critical stage of growth.”