Community capital has been touted by some in the emerging impact investment markets as a new form of capitalism where the private, public, voluntary, and community sectors come together to help promote the use of economic, environmental, social, and human capital , to bring about a better society while providing socially oriented impact investors a some sort of financial return. At the center of the impact investment model is human development.
I believe the model has a lot of potential. Social impact investment is not new, but is going through a second incarnation as the private sector becomes more engaged in the concept and individuals, non-profits, and other groups learn to engage with a private sector that has been viewed as a bogey man for well over a century.
My cursory review of the players in the market has raised one concern; that even with human development supposedly at its core that the individual has been left out. While business models are being developed to provide goods and services to the underserved, i.e., healthcare, energy, broadband, quality food, affordable housing, and education, I see the potential of a bottleneck for capital access by the individual.
The focus should first be on individual’s accumulation of human and social capital. This gives him or her the opportunity to establish themselves as recipients of investment capital, the capital needed to put their entrepreneurial ideas into play.
Otherwise, I think the concept is a good start to reminding capitalists that our greatest returns come from bringing value to consumers and society overall in a way that exceeds just risk adjusted returns.