Can “impact investing,” which combines financial return with social good, help San Diego solve some of its biggest social and environmental problems?
A three-year-old organization called the San Diego Impact Investors Network is trying to catalyze $100 million in new social investment in San Diego by 2025.
With impact investing, “the mission is baked into the business,” according to entrepreneur Martin Goodman, a member of the group’s executive committee.
The organization sponsored a sort of “Shark Tank” on Wednesday to help four startups hone their pitches to investors.
The four companies and their missions are:
- Aira is using smart glasses to connect visually impaired individuals with agents who can help them accomplish daily tasks.
- Archi’s Acres provies employment for veterans in sustainable organic farming. Its first product is basil sold at local supermarkets.
- Kitchens for Good provides job training in culinary arts while catering for a number of nonprofit and government customers.
- Spiral Therapy utilizes 3D imaging and crowd-sourcing to recommend physical therapy treatments.
Goodman said impact investing doesn’t mean just equity investments, but also real estate loans and direct grants.
“As we start building out this ecosystem and bring more deals to the table…there’s going to be a whole spectrum of opportunities,” he said.
The effort is supported by San Diego Grantmakers, a membership association that helps philanthropic organizations and individuals.