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Civic Impact

Idea Foundry aims to bring awareness to the virtues of impact investing

It’s been tough to get investors to sit still for business ideas that also have a social or environmental mission, says Nicole Muise-Kielkucki, business manager for social enterprise at Idea Foundry, Inc., the nonprofit economic development agency in Oakland.
 
But a few years ago, Idea Foundry began to get more and more applicants whose business ideas had a social enterprise – a mission to do good. Idea Foundry thought that was great. “But when they present their story,” Muise-Kielkucki says of these prospective startups, “a lot of traditional investor-types kind of tune out."
 
“We need to attract a different type of investor,” she says. “There are very few impact investors in Pittsburgh.”
 
Idea Foundry is hoping to bring more awareness to the benefits of financing socially aware companies, known as impact investing. Their InterSector program, which coaches and gives early funds to such companies is taking applications for its third round of funding, due April 15. Partnering with Pittsburgh Venture Capital Association, it is hosting a panel discussion with experienced impact investors from other cities and three local social entrepreneurs.
 
The April 8 lunch event at the Duquesne Club will feature Eric Weinberg, founder and CEO of Impact Capital Strategies, LLC, and Jacob Gray of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative.
 
Large global foundations have long attempted impact investing, but trying to get venture capitalists to go for such projects is the aim of this event. It will highlight the success other cities are seeing already.
 
“We want to get past some of the misconceptions about social enterprises,” says Muise-Kielkucki. “We are aiming to show that there is a strong business case” for it. Pittsburgh in particular, she concludes, “is ripe for this.”
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Nicole Muise-Kielkucki, Idea Foundry
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