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  • Perseus

Real Impact

Morgan Simon

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Society, Business innovation

A leading investment professional explains the world of impact investing--investing in businesses and projects with a social and financial return--and shows what it takes to make sustainable, transformative change.

Impact investment, the support of social and environmental projects with a financial return, has become a hot topic in the world's philanthropy and development circles, and is growing exponentially: in the next decade, it is poised to eclipse traditional aid by ten times. Yet for all the excitement, there is work to do to ensure it actually realizes its potential. Will impact investment empower millions of people worldwide, or will it just replicate the same failures that have plagued the aid and antipoverty industry?

Enter Morgan Simon. When she was a twenty-year-old college student at Swarthmore, Simon compelled Lockheed Martin to change their LGBTQ policies by convincing her college to stop investing in the firm. And that was just the beginning. With passion and counterintuitive arguments, Simon shows how impact investing can make real change. But she also illustrates how easy it is to make mistakes, showing how wind farms can lead to land grabs, and how short-term thinking by well-meaning investors can actually lead to more oppression and hardship in the communities they are trying to help. Impact investing, Simon argues, is making the same mistakes the aid industry has been making for years. But there are ways to invest and have real impact: by making sure the communities are involved in the decision-making and ownership of the project, that investors are adding more value than they extract, and that the risk and returns are balanced between the investors and the communities.

As an activist, and as a trusted leader in the field, Simon argues that we can work within the system and use capital to effect change. Centered around real, on-the-ground case studies from her decades of investment analysis and offering clear strategies that are proven to work, this book is a clarion call for more effective, socially conscious investing.

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