'Seedcorn' Impact Investing
Like many aid organisations, The Salvation Army confronts the challenge of long term poverty in a number of ways. As a charity and a church, they often deal with immediate human need in times of emergency, such as providing food, water, sanitation, medical help, trauma support, clothing and shelter. But it also recognises the need for longer term interventions to deal with the causes of poverty and injustice.
Alongside its campaigning work, welfare, pastoral and spiritual ministry, The Salvation Army has seen the value of supporting developing enterprise. This can be traced as far back as ‘safety match’ factories in Victorian England through to modern day charity shops. Since the early 90’s in developing countries, micro enterprise and micro lending have formed part of the tools used to help individuals and communities work their own way out of poverty.
The Ethical Goods team were the innovators behind a new product called ‘Seedcorn’, an impact investing fund which enabled larger size enterprise initiatives to start up or grow.
The fund supported impact or mission-led businesses (enterprises that fulfilled The Salvation Army mission such as a hospital, school or food business), or it could be a for-profit business that was less mission aligned such as a wind or coffee farm.
The fund was one of the first of its kind in the third sector and especially in international development, playing a crucial role in helping previously ‘grant aided’ countries move to more independent financial decision making and self-reliance.