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Pope Dines With the Poor --Photos: Adam Trojanek

Third Vatican Conference on Impact Investing to Explore How Impact Capital Can Help the Poor

Conference Draws Leaders from Wide Spectrum of Church, Business, Investment and Academia

The Third Vatican Conference on Impact Investing: Scaling Investment in Service of Integral Human Development will focus on concrete ways that capital can be put to use to help the poor around the world.

Attendees who will converge on the Vatican from all corners of the globe will hear about a variety of social enterprises and impact funds designed to do just that — some will be examples of how investors can deploy their capital, others will be actively seeking funding ranging from commercial investment to blended finance, a combination of investment and philanthropy. All of the featured enterprises and funds use impact capital to sustainably provide goods, services, and/or jobs to the very poor at scale. 

Taking place on July 8-10 in Rome, the conference will draw leaders from the Catholic Church, business, banks, the investment world, academia, foundations, humanitarian organizations and many others interested in the issue. As in previous years, it will be co-hosted by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (IHD) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the official overseas humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States.

“The first conference held in 2014 focused on the global Church’s involvement with impact investing. The second explored how the Church’s ministries could move toward sustainability with the help of private capital,” said Peter Cardinal Turkson, prefect of the IHD dicastery. “This year, with continued support from the Dicastery and CRS, we will look at very specific paths we can follow to increase capital used for impact investing, especially for the most poor and vulnerable among us, seeking commitments from all participants.”

Panels will look at how impact investing can assist at-risk youth in developing countries in their search for employment, support entrepreneurial migrants and refugees, sustain healthcare access for the poor, and combat and adapt to climate change. “At CRS, we know from our day-to-day work the power that investment capital can have in the communities we serve,” said Sean Callahan, president and CEO of CRS. “Among the poorest of the poor, we constantly find inventive and resilient entrepreneurs and business-minded people who are eager to escape poverty, if only they had the capital to start businesses. There is huge untapped potential in many of the countries where we work.”

Matt Bannick, board member and former managing director of Omyidar Network, a speaker and sponsor of the conference since its inception, agreed. “The reach and resources and mission of the Catholic Church makes it uniquely positioned to guide the flow of impact investments so they work for those living at the base of the pyramid,” he said. “The market needs to work alongside philanthropy and charity to make change that is scalable and lasting. At this conference we’ll put this in motion.”

A segment of the conference will be devoted to discussing enterprises and funds that help the poor deal with the realities of climate change and degradation of the environment, the subject of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si.

“Since the Vatican’s first conference in 2014, the impact investing market has experienced incredible momentum. Investors of all types are putting more money to work to generate social and environmental progress, and we’re seeing a growing track record that shows impact investing is a feasible option for investors seeking strong financial returns,” said Amit Bouri, Co-founder and CEO of the Global Impact Investing Network. “The Vatican and Catholic Relief Services have shown tremendous leadership in advancing the impact investing movement. They have recognized the powerful potential of investment capital to create impact in support of the Church’s values to mitigate climate change and enhance the lives of the world’s poorest and most marginalized communities.”

Individual sessions will detail how impact investments are bringing jobs for youth, access to healthcare and support for migrant and refugee entrepreneurs– all important issues for the global Church – while giving returns to investors. “We hope this conference will make people realize that impact investing is not just supporting companies that do no harm; it must mean putting money to work in ways that are really helpful, producing genuine positive outcomes for the poor,” Callahan said. “Together we will explore that issue and what it means for returns on investment alongside the Church’s commitment to those in need.”

The Omidyar Network and Caritas Internationalis are sponsors of this conference.

For more information on this and past conferences, go to http://www.viiconference.org/

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