ImpactPHL is a Year Old. Here’s What it’s Achieved — and What it’s Still Working On

A lot has changed in the past year.

For the sake of saving ourselves a political headache, we’ll stick with a few items of local social enterprise news:

  • The Knight Cities Challenge-winning Institute for Hip Hop Entrepreneurship graduated its inaugural class of music entrepreneurs.
  • Borderwise came into the public spotlight for its work in simplifying the immigration process.
  • NeedsList has earned accolades before it’s even officially launched for helping people donate supplies to refugees.
  • And this month ROAR for Good finally shipped its preordered Athenas, the company’s personal safety devices and flagship product.

June marked a year since the official launch of ImpactPHL, the impact investing advocacy organization that seeks to, as we put it then, revolutionize capitalism by increasing the amount of venture capital put toward mission-minded for-profits in the Philadelphia area.

At the time, we called the team out for being about as diverse as you’d expect a bunch of venture capitalists to be — which is to say, not very diverse at all.

More on that later. Here’s what’s been going on since, and what’s planned for 2018.


The organization has launched two big initiatives in the past year. One is Best for PHL, a campaign that challenges Philly companies (not just self-identified social enterprises) to analyze their business practices in areas such as sustainability and hiring and commit to bettering them with its guidance.

Almost 150 area companies have participated in the program’s workshops, which works off of a B Lab-created assessment tool, in its first three months.

Then last month, ImpactPHL unveiled its ImpactPHL Ventures program. The funding initiative — don’t call it a fund — gathered $15 million from eight partners to be pushed into the “impact investing ecosystem” via investments in local social enterprises. The initiative is overseen by ImpactPHL founding partner Ben Franklin Technology Partners.

According to John Moore, an angel investor and ImpactPHL’s executive chair, the group’s second year will be an amplification of the first in “using business as a force for good.”

ImpactPHL hasn’t yet set a goal for how many businesses it wants to participate in the 2018 Best For PHL program, but it’s hoping to scale it dramatically, possibly by creating an online component — though Moore admits that could reduce the feeling of “community” that comes from in-person meetings.

Plus, that Ventures money needs to be deployed. Moore said that $15 million is meant to encourage social enterprises to either start or come to Philadelphia and will likely be deployed as seed funding.

More generally, ImpactPHL wants to do more community building around the impact ecosystem, which could involve physical convenings, education of stakeholders and the like.

The idea is that the more comfortable traditional venture capitalists can get with the idea of impact investing, the more money that will be generated for social good.

“People are on different spots with their investments,” Moore said — some are all-in with impact investing, some are interested but not knowledgeable yet, and some are only concerned with financial returns, not mission. “The whole idea of ImpactPHL is to shift everyone on that spectrum.”

ImpactPHL’s direct focus will be on those who are closer on the spectrum to action.

“We can help them deploy their capital faster” than ImpactPHL would trying to help people get comfortable with the idea in the first place, Moore said.

Read the full article here.