As we bid goodbye to 2017, let’s take the opportunity to look back at some significant happenings and trends in the world of social enterprise and impact investing. Blockchain for good.

An increasing number of social enterprises started tapping blockchain technology, the digital tech underlying Bitcoin, to give struggling low-income people who conduct transactions in cash access to financial services. Case in point: a banking application from the Plastic Bank, a Vancouver-based social enterprise aiming to turn recycled plastic into a new currency for the poor.

Designed with IBM and introduced in 2017 in Haiti, it uses blockchain technology to create what the Plastic Bank co-founder Shaun Frankson calls a secure “hyper ledger”. Mostly for collectors—people who gather plastic and turn it in for recycling, where they can use the value to buy items at a Plastic Bank market or pay for school tuition, among other things—the app tracks how much they’ve garnered and also provides a digital repository for parking their earnings.

More evidence that impact investing reaps healthy returns. It was a good year for research showing a profitable upside to impact.

For just one example, the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) published a report evaluating more than a dozen studies on the financial performance of funds in private equity, private debt and real assets, as well as individual investor portfolios, conducted by Cambridge Associates, McKinsey & Co and the GIIN, itself, among other organizations. And it found that, across private market strategies, such as private equity, fixed income and real assets, the distribution of impact investing fund returns is similar to results for conventional markets. Read more from…

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