In 2013, the British Council and its partners launched a pioneering Social Investment Platform to promote social impact investment and provide training and funding opportunities to outstanding Chinese social enterprises.
We are hosting a national competition for established social entrepreneurs through the platform. Short listed candidates will receive training and mentoring and winners will secure funding from our partners worth as much as CNY¥9 million.
In addition, we and our partners are organising high profile conferences to promote social investment in Mainland China and Hong Kong.
Our partners include Morelove Foundation, Inovate99, Xinhu-Yu Venture Philanthropy Fund, Social Enterprise Research Centre, Dunhe Foundation, LGT Venture Philanthropy and Daohe Environment and Development Institute. Our media partner is the magazine CEO CIO.
How to apply
Applications for the current round of the competition are now closed.
Short-listed applicants will attend a three-day social investment ‘boot camp’ with investors. Finalists will receive professional mentoring and attend the Social Enterprises Summit in Hong Kong, where they will visit other successful social enterprises. After a final pitch before a jury, the winners will be chosen and announced during the annual Skills for Social Entrepreneurs Awards ceremony held in March 2014.
Prizes include equity investment, bond investment, interest free or low interest loans and funding for social franchising, as well as mentoring and capacity building.
What is Social Investment?
A social investment is an investment designed to generate both a financial return and social impact.
Social investors seek to ‘do well by doing good.’ They often accept lower returns on social investments than on other investments because these produce benefits for society as well as profits. Their investments provide capital to social enterprises that develop long term and self-sustaining solutions to social problems.
There are three main types of social investment: debt, equity and quasi-equity finance. Debt finance refers to loans made by the social investor which the borrower repays with interest. Equity funding involves the issuing of shares in exchange for capital. In quasi-equity investments, the social investor receives a fixed percentage of the social enterprise’s future income in return for the investment.
Social investment innovations in the UK
The UK is considered a global leader in developing legislation, financial products and mechanisms to support social investment.
In April 2012 the UK launched Big Society Capital, the world’s first social investment bank, with GBP 600 million (RMB 6 billion) of capital from dormant bank accounts and high street banks. Big Society Capital invests in funds that themselves invest in social enterprises, allowing them to thrive and grow.
Another UK innovation is the social impact bond. These are financial instruments that raise money from the capital markets for social enterprises and charities. Government pays interest to investors on these bonds based on the results achieved by the social enterprise. They offer an efficient means of tapping private investment to fund preventative action (e.g. immunising children against disease) or expensive social problems (e.g. addressing chronic homelessness).
As UK Prime Minister David Cameron said during the G8 Social Impact Investment Forum in June 2013, “Social investment can be a great force for social change on the planet. It can help us to build bigger and stronger societies.”