Impact Investing refers to investments made in companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return. The impact investing market offers diverse and viable opportunities for investors to advance social and environmental solutions through investments that also produce financial returns.
Israel wears its crown proudly as “the startup nation”, and it is only logical that a country with such a title would choose the field of technology as its apparatus to tackle global social and environmental problems. Using technology allows the possibility of scaling up, which in turn allows a more significant impact on society and the environment to be made, and over a shorter period of time.
However, despite Israel’s technological force and entrepreneurial zeal, impact investing is still in its developing stage in Israel. Impact First Investments has taken the leadership role in creating Israel’s social-tech eco-system and supporting it.
Here are five key strategies for successful impact investing:
First and foremost, do not sacrifice on talent. Success is determined on the team that you have created. Carefully pick your team, finding skilled individuals with the right training, talent, and experience—because at the end of the day, it’s all about execution. People believe that tech companies succeed because of great technology, but simply put, it’s the company’s execution.
Second of all, be profitable, but with a defined theory of change. When there is a clear social mission in place, and you can build it and weave it within your business plan, then the execution becomes part of the plan and part of the reality of making it happen. Investors are often concerned by “mission drift”, but if your company has a definite social mission in place, then everyone in the company is aligned behind the mission, and you can create a really successful company.
Thirdly, incorporate an intrinsic mission. When you want to make real change, it has to be something that you truly believe in, and that can truly transcend through your organization. When there is a clearly defined mission that is embedded in what you believe in, and not something that you’re doing because it’s the “cool thing to do”, then that’s going to succeed.
Fourthly, construct the best board possible. This is clearly a key strategy that all entrepreneurs could employ, but one of the things that is different about impact entrepreneurs is that in addition to wanting to be great companies, they also want to address social issues. If they have a board that doesn’t agree with that, then there will be many clashes that arise in the future in getting to their mission. These problems will come with the smaller decisions, the quotidian decisions, and if the board is aligned with the entrepreneurs then it’s going to be much easier to get to where you want to go.
Lastly, cooperate with international partners. This strategy is very much aimed at Israeli entrepreneurs. Israel is a very small market, and perhaps biggest resource is the human resource—to bring ideas to life and make them happen. In order for us to scale and get real global problems solved, we must cooperate with foreign investors, partners, stakeholders. We must understand these markets, become educated, and be able to access these markets. We need support from our global peers, in order to see the scale and take our solutions from Israel to the world. Anything we do in Israel will be applicable to Israeli society as much as it will to other societies.
Cecile is the Founder and Managing Partner at Impact First Investments, Israel’s first impact venture fund. Prior to founding Impact First, Cecile managed the Noaber Foundation’s Israeli investments for over 14 years, and has earned extensive hands-on management experience with high-
tech start-ups. Cecile is also an alumnus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where she studied political science and international relations, and is an avid practitioner and trainer of Tai-Chi.
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