January 2020 News

Follow us on Linkedin to keep up with the latest in WA impact investment and social enterprise news.

Launch of Australia's First Place-Based Impact Investment Fund in WA


Next Wednesday, 5th February is the launch event and info session for the new WA Impact Fund.  At the time of writing this newsletter some places opened up for this sellout event with a strict capacity of 130 attendees, but don't worry, if it is sold out by the time you're reading this you can still register your interest on the ticketing page to receive more info/for future events.  For more details on the event and registrations please visit the ticketing site here

For more information and enquiries, get in touch.


Launch of WA Blended Finance Partnership with Sefa

Growing a catalytic funding environment is essential for projects which need medium-term support towards financial sustainability to ultimately gain lower-risk forms of impact investment such as debt finance. 

We're thrilled to announce a partnership with blended finance leader Sefa to work with WA's grant making foundations and organisations to grow this pool of risk capital with 'first-loss funders'. In this first masterclass we will be deep diving into the possibilities and opportunities, with a WA context.

Blended finance is an innovative and critical form of impact investment, in which grants, philanthropic capital and other concessionary forms of impact investment are packaged together to enable for-profit and NFP investable impact projects and social enterprises to achieve long-term financial sustainability.  

This form of impact finance is catalytic and in this masterclass we will fully explore types of blended finance using case studies. This event also signals the official launch of a partnership between leaders in the national blended finance market, Social Enterprise Finance Australia (Sefa), and Impact Seed to drive the growth of blended finance market in Western Australia.

This masterclass is especially designed for funders, foundations, investors and government agencies, and will be delivered jointly by Hanna Ebeling, Acting CEO of Sefa, and Kylie Hansen, Founding Executive Director of Impact Seed. 


Book Blended Finance Masterclass

Reflecting on 2019.. and a focus for 2020

2019 and the start to 2020 so far feels like an unbroken stream of bad news and catastrophe enveloping us in the form of climate-induced bushfires, ocean and land warming, species and habitat destruction; while extreme politics, and 'alternative facts' have dominated our news feeds on entirely unregulated social media platforms.  It's enough to make an eternal optimist question their world-view. 

Having read so many thoughtful articles on these topics, one thread emerges - we can either sink into depression and inaction, or do something, anything, at a personal or professional level that can help contribute to solutions.  And have gratitude for the good things in our lives, our families, our friends, our communities, a still stunning (if scarred) natural environment; and the blessings in our lives and our work. On that last note..

The year that was

..2019 was a massive year for impact investment in WA and for Impact Seed our biggest yet.  After 18 months of solid effort, planning and collaboration, our highlights and impact in the year that was include:
  • Growing our team with three amazing talented humans, all domain experts in their respective fields: Daniel Mackey (Food & Fibre systems); Emma Tomkinson (Social Impact Bonds & Impact Management); and Justin Wolfgang (Regenerative Agriculture). 
  • A vibrant community of practice for impact investment which started in early 2019 and has now had four gatherings through the year, building quality connections, networks and knowledge.
  • A cross sector alliance for the impact investment sector - IIWA - launched by the WA Treasurer, Hon. Ben Wyatt after 12 months of planning, with foundation members including WACOSS, Centre for Social Impact, WA Super and Impact Collective
  • Launch of Australia's first place based impact investment fund - the $20M WA Impact Fund managed by IIG and anchored by WA Super following introductions and planning going back to early 2018.
  • Development of Australia's first not-for-profit impact investment partnership (Impact Collective) with leading WA NFP's Chorus, Rise and Ruah to incubate and fund WA social enterprises after a solid 18 month effort in building the frameworks and common objectives for the collective
  • Support from the government New Industries Fund to grow impact investor education and provide incubation support for regional social enterprises across the Gascoyne and Kimberley, which is now well underway.
  • We are well on the way to completing the preliminary draft of WA's social enterprise mapping project, as a step to WA having its own Social Enterprise Council in 2020.

The year to come..

Every good time of growth is followed by consolidation.  The market building initiatives of the past couple of years are very much a work in progress, and there are many gaps to be filled and collaborations to unfold to complete the scaffolding for a new and emerging impact economy in WA.

For our part, we'll be focusing our efforts this year in a few key areas:

1) Launching a new Blended Finance partnership with SEFA
Growing a catalytic funding environment is so essential for projects which need medium-term support towards financial sustainability to ultimately gain lower-risk forms of impact investment such as debt finance.  To this end, we'll be working with SEFA and WA's grant making foundations and organisations to grow this pool of risk capital with 'first-loss funders'.  

2) Focusing our impact management practice for corporates, funders and investees
Every corporate, impact investor, funder and sustainable business needs to understand, measure and manage its impact.  This year we'll be expanding our capacity to support our partners to improve and align their impact and outcomes management with global, national and local frameworks. 

3) Advisory and investment readiness capacity building
Capacity building for social enterprises and regenerative businesses towards investment readiness for blended finance and the WA Impact Fund

Please get in touch if you're interested in learning more.
Enquire Now

Impact Management

All enterprises have positive and negative effects on people and the planet.Whether large multinational, small business or not for profit, we can all manage our impact and outcomes.  Increasingly impact measurement and management  is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but demanded by investors, conscious consumers, government funders, and foundations.

We have led some of WA’s key impact and outcomes management projects, including the whole-of-sector outcomes measurement framework with WACOSS and the WA Government; integrating B-Lab B-Corp certification processes; and we recently concluded the independent mid-term review for Woodside’s $20M Development Fund.

We specialise in impact management projects requiring simple translation from complex cross-sector datasets, and adapting reporting methods based on nationally and international best practice frameworks and methodologies including:

  • The WA Outcomes Measurement Framework (OMFW)
  • Global Impact Investing Network’s IRIS
  • B-Lab Assessment (B-Corp certification process)
  • Social Return on Investment (SROI)
  • The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s)
  • Impact Management Project (IMP)

In a rapidly growing and increasingly ‘noisy’ impact management arena our key values are:

  1. We deliver best-practice and best-fit frameworks tailored to each client
  2. A contextual approach to engagement, framework, communication strategy, and developing action-oriented impact management reports
  3. Understanding the need for consistency for comparison, reporting and forecasting
  4. Systemic and strategic impact management projects encompassing governance, employees, environment and community, considering whole of supply chain impact

If you’re looking to create an impact management framework, measure your impact and outcomes, or simply improve your positive impact through supply chain practices and procurement, please get in touch.


Enquire Now

Our Top Articles & Opportunities of the Month

We’ve trawled the innards of the internet to bring you a curated look at the world of impact investment, innovation, social enterprise, as well as some opinions, critical thought and reflection.
  1. No, You Don’t Need to Start a Business - We've witnessed the conversation about social innovation and social progress become dominated by an outlook that often conflates financial sustainability with impact and that devalues civil society and the public sector as permanent second fiddles to business and philanthropy.  It’s a troubling trend because it threatens to transform an important idea — that business has an obligation to both reduce social harm and create shared value — into a dogma that our collective salvation must come via markets. And perhaps even worse: that it is via the pursuit of financial return that human beings most reliably lift each other up.

    Social enterprise is important. However, these periodic enthusiasms do damage. Suddenly, the amount of money available for social enterprise multiplies and multiplies. But the deal flow does not suddenly go up by 10- or 20-fold in a year. So organizations are encouraged to change into or at least seem to change into profitable businesses. Their supporters having become profit-seeking investors, what choice do they have? This typically ends badly. Returns plummet and no one wants to talk about the craze anymore. Remember “venture philanthropy”?  These waves distort the work of the citizen sector both by pulling organizations away from their purpose and what they are good at and by pulling people towards direct service and away from systems change. That’s because systems change takes a long time and is much less likely to be financially profitable than direct service. (click title link to read more)
  2. As social finance hits the mainstream, how much has really changed with how we use capital?  Can good intentions become real change? "A lot of folks coming from traditional finance see (impact investment) as a new opportunity to aggregate more capital. What we’re missing is using capital as a fuel for individuals in the context of family, community, and the planet. The whole game is up for redefinition and re-exploration..Ultimately, what we’re talking about is the meaning and purpose of our lives; What do we want to be leaving, not only as a financial legacy, but as a life legacy” (Jed Emerson) (click link above to read more)
  3. Hyper-"Solutions" focus and systemic justice - Going directly to solutions makes us feel productive while allowing us to avoid feelings of helplessness or guilt that often accompany these conversations. But these impulsive solutions are often aren't grounded in acknowledgement of the root causes of problems of systemic economic injustice. (click title link to read more)
  4. The impact metrics myth - In this 5 year old piece, Jed Emerson often called the godfather of impact investing reflects on measuring impact.  "..In the end, I hate the metrics debate. It is repetitive, mind numbing and distracting from the critical task of fighting the forces presently destroying our societies and planet. Each time some ignorant (not stupid, mind you, and yet, not fully aware of what they do not know; they are quite rightly, ignorant) newcomer enters the discussion, we’re all expected to re-group and re-define concepts and issues well documented and explored in the past. The continual, mindless reminders that not everything that counts can be counted leave me frustrated and even angry at some who for reasons beyond me don’t seem to understand that such now trite insights were the very starting place of this journey well more than 25 years ago and that, indeed, as newcomers they are as far behind the current exploration as we are from our goal. Yet, we make progress despite our doubts and complications. We advance the practice of both impact investing and performance measurement one step forward and two steps back as the current “knowledge” of the crowd actually pulls us backward to previous thinking and practice" (click title link to read more)
  5. Impact Investment for Systems Change - Broad Impact Vs Deep Impact - "We are at the beginning of an unprecedented global transformation, where humanity has little time to figure out how to sustainably live on a planet with finite resources. Adapting existing systems to deal with systemic issues like inequality, social justice, climate change and poverty is not enough. During this transition to an impact economy all systems will have to change, especially the financial system. Part of the solution is impact investment which is driven by two different movements: The Broad Impact Movement and the Deep Impact Movement. The Broad Impact Movement is embracing ESG criteria within the existing system. The Deep Impact Movement embraces systemic solutions while challenging the existing system; examples include social, environmental regenerative enterprises, blended finance structures, and community development banks." (click title link to read more)
  6. A win for WA as State Government allows carbon farming  - The decision allows pastoralists to earn carbon credits from sequestering carbon on pastoral lands for the first time in the State’s history allowing pastoralists to build resilience to climate change and improve pastoral productivity. The decision follows the State Government’s previous in-principle support for Human Induced Regeneration (HIR) carbon farming, which led to the registration of 43 projects through the national Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF).(click title link to read more)
  7. Farmers are entrepreneurs too - regenerative agriculture and the green new deal
    Farmers are entrepreneurs too. When we select food, we inform farmers of the markets that need to be created. Eaters have a lot of power. Consumers, restaurateurs, health care practitioners all have a role to play in the system. The IPCC considers soil carbon sequestration the lowest cost sequestration option with costs ranging from $0 to $100 per ton. Changing the way we farm could, within 25 years, sequester 20 PgC (petagrams of carbon), more than 10% of all anthropogenic emissions.(click title link to read more)
  8. Now in its fourth year, the Plus Eight accelerator program has helped 18 Perth startups and founders through their growth journey with seed funding, mentoring and specialist support, and this year they're supporting social enterprises with a special Impact Scholarship category.  Applications close 17-Feb.  Check it out.
  9. Tesla’s $100B valuation is not a result of it being a great place to work or a smoothly functioning institution. Tesla workers say life at the company, particularly on the production line, can be hellish, rife with sexual harassment, racism, homophobia, forced overtime, and frequent workplace injuries.


    Rather, these reasons are more informative because they capture the irrationality of present-day capitalism. They demonstrate the absurdity of a system in which the value of companies rests as much (or more) on their ability to tell a good story as it does on their actual track record.



  10. Every year the leaders of the world's broken economic system private jet in to Davos for some backslapping and to see how they might paint themselves as being part of the solution. Here is a good piece from the Guardian on how they wasted everyone's time, money and carbon allowance on this year's junket: 
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