New Social Impact Chair to promote knowledge of impact investment in Spain

This initiative is being developed by the Comillas Pontifical University, the Open Value Foundation, Repsol Foundation, and Management Solutions with the aim of promoting research and innovation in the field of impact investment, corporate philanthropy, and how to measure its contribution.
New Social Impact Chair to promote knowledge of impact investment in Spain

This new Chair, linked to the Comillas Pontifical University’s Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, will create a Social Impact Laboratory, a pioneering think tank in Spain, as well as provide spaces for debate and reflection and training for specialised professionals. This Laboratory will bring together a group of experts to reflect on the future of impact investment, how to measure its contribution, and the associated risks, as well as create a white paper on the subject. 

For Carlos Ballesteros — Head of the Social Business Guidance Service of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration (Comillas ICADE), professor at Comillas ICADE, and director of this Social Impact Chair —“we can still see the economic, social, and employment-related consequences of the 2008 financial crisis to this day. Furthermore, these implications have been worsened by the current coronavirus pandemic and will be further increased by the phenomenon of climate change. The corporate sector is increasingly aware of the key role it plays in solving these problems. In this sense, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda highlights the fundamental role of businesses, defining their long-term business strategies and focusing on the creation of both economic and social value”.

A new economic sector

In the past 15 years, the term “impact investment” has experienced a significant boom. In the field of philanthropy, so-called “donor fatigue” has translated into a widespread lack of clear progress in specific causes that have received enormous amounts of money over past decades, and it has contributed to a trend that promotes the need to know and clearly measure the impact of investments in order to be able to select the most effective and efficient programmes and causes in the social field. 

Awareness of the need to generate social value as well as financial results has been growing in the business world in recent years, which consequently means that the positive social or environmental impact of the investments must be measurable and reported transparently, and the associated risks, including reputational consequences, must be managed appropriately.

For the promoters of the Chair, who are in constant contact with the main leading organisations from the sector, it is necessary to contribute to this trend through the calm reflection, critical observation, systematisation, and academic rigour provided by the university.

According to the Open Value Foundation, a family foundation that advocates and promotes a hybrid model involving traditional philanthropy and impact investment, “in an increasingly developed word with abundant economic resources, we are ready to promote a new way of financing projects that is more patient, social, and sustainable. Action investment seeks to achieve the best balance between profitability and risk, but, above all, a positive impact. With this Chair, we hope to promote its development and, consequently, help solve the problems faced by our society".

The Repsol Foundation states thatthrough this Chair, we want to contribute to social change by transforming the way we address philanthropy and impact investment, the measurement of risks and impacts, and the training of social organisations” 

By participating in the Chair, Management Solutions plans to “help develop skills in the business world related to measuring impact, managing risks, and promoting transparency in social, environmental, and good governance spheres, responding to the concerns of stakeholders and as a necessary condition to ensure they continue to exist long into the future”.

Leaders in impact investment

This initiative is another step forward in the Repsol Foundation's commitment to investment impact following the creation of Repsol Social Impact, a company established with the goal of promoting the development of businesses focused on energy transition and inclusion of vulnerable groups in Spain and Portugal.

Repsol Impacto Social has already made its first investments in Koiki, a network of urban micro-centres for sustainable last-mile package distribution, and Sylvestris, a company dedicated to sowing and reforestation that employs people in vulnerable situations for the development of its projects, as well as GNE Finance, an energy sector company that provides affordable financing with personalised technical assistance to refurbish homes and buildings, focused on improving sustainability.

Ship2B and Open Value Foundationcollaborate on this initiative. There is also a collaboration agreement with Ilunion, the brand of social companies from Grupo ONCE.