In 2008 Britain dropped into the deepest recession since World War II but today the future is looking brighter as the economy has returned to its pre-crash level and we now have one of the fastest growing economies in the developed world. Having recently read the UK Government’s annual addition of The Parliamentary Review for the environment, the Prime Minister attributes Britain’s strong recovery to the ongoing hard work of people like you and me alongside the efforts of organisations such as Ignite, the UK’s first impact investment fund with a focus on energy, backed by Centrica.
To understand how Ignite contributes to Britain’s ongoing recovery, let me first take you back to 2012 - society was under increasing pressure as a growing number of people slipped into unemployment while others struggled to pay household bills amidst tough economic conditions. While many of these problems endure today, these difficult times stimulated us to explore how we could help the public sector and civil society tackle some of these significant issues by making a greater contribution to society above the near £400m we already invested in community schemes. But we recognised that we couldn’t do this alone - we concluded that we needed to work with cross-sector partnerships, government and social enterprises.
We came up with the Social Innovation Idea – investing money in businesses that are solving social issues, money which traditionally would have been donated to charity. We started to work with the Social Business Trust and created Ignite, our pioneering impact investment fund that invests in social enterprises and businesses which drive innovation in the energy sector to help overcome energy-related issues in society. And because investments are recycled, we can create an even greater impact in society.