It was fascinating being at an event for social angel investors last night, organized by the Cabinet Office, and held at 11 Downing Street. Not only the occasion of being in Downing Street, which was interesting enough, but talking to such a diverse bunch of people, unified by their interest in investing in small social enterprises.
Many had never really thought of themselves as “social angels”, they just saw themselves as angel investors who were interested in projects with a social dimension. Almost universally, they were used to looking at social enterprises as if it were an ordinary business from the standpoint of the finances, the governance, the business plan. Almost no one seemed to care about specific social impact metrics, or social return on investment, or any other parts of the jargon-laden quasi-academic analysis of social impact that is common in this area. That's not to say that people didn't want it to be done, just that they weren't (in general) so concerned about the details – what they cared about more was passion: management of the social enterprise needed to be passionate about what they did and why they did it.