News and Announcements / News and Announcements

UN Global Compact and The Rockefeller Foundation Announce a Framework for Action on Social Enterprise and Impact Investing

NEW YORK—A new Framework for Action launched today offers investors, large corporations and governments a valuable resource for engaging with and supporting an escalating global business trend—the rising number of for-profit social enterprises whose goods and services address social and environmental needs.

The product of a partnership between the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, and The Rockefeller Foundation, a U.S.-based global philanthropic organization, the Framework is predicated on the increasing recognition that the growth of the social enterprise sector not only holds the promise of contributing to the world’s sustainable development goals but also presents a financially or strategically valuable investment opportunity.

“It is our hope that this Framework will motivate large companies and investors within the UN Global Compact and our sister initiative, the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment, to invest in social enterprises in a range of sectors – including agribusiness, education, energy, financial services, health, housing and water,” said Gavin Power, Deputy Director of the UN Global Compact.

“This Framework builds on the work of our Impact Investing initiative, which has helped cultivate the supply of capital seeking to invest in social enterprises that benefit poor or vulnerable people,” said Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “With so many social entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses in need of both capital and capacity building, more tools like the Framework are needed to help unlock critical private and public sector resources in support the sector’s development.”

Launched at a special session on social enterprise and impact investing held during the UN Global Compact’s Rio 20 Corporate Sustainability Forum, the Framework outlines three key steps for corporations, investors and Governments: prioritizing the rationale for engaging with social enterprise, defining a strategy, and choosing specific approaches to execute.

In recent years a number of large corporations and pioneering impact investors have begun investing more actively in the social enterprise sector. These include companies such as Cemex, Cisco, Intel, Nestle, Safaricom, SK and Starbucks, and investors such as, Acumen Fund, Bamboo Finance Daiwa Securities, ECOM, HSBC, Mahindra Finance, Sequoia Capital, SNS Asset Management, TIAA-CREF. Examples of investments by these companies and investors are presented in the Framework.

In terms of market potential, the UN Global Compact Office estimates that in the coming years as much as $12 billion in early stage investment in social enterprises could be generated by large corporations and mainstream investors participating the UN Global Compact and UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment. This could potentially seed the creation of approximately 100,000 social enterprise start-ups.

Looking forward to the next decade, a report by J.P. Morgan and The Rockefeller Foundation estimates that the impact investing market offers the potential for invested capital of $400 billion to $1 trillion over the next ten years.

The Framework also provides recommendations to Governments with respect to how they can create better enabling environments for social enterprise, as well as take more direct steps to foster their growth.

The intellectual content of the Framework was generated by a small Steering Committee of nine experts offering perspectives from large corporations, investment funds, venture capital, civil society, foundations and public policymakers.


About the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum:
Innovation and Collaboration for the Future We Want
Hosted by the UN Global Compact, in cooperation with the Rio+20 Secretariat, the UN System and the Global Compact Local Network Brazil, the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum (15-18 June 2012) seeks to bring greater scale and quality to corporate sustainability practices, as a critical contribution to sustainable development. As a showcase for innovation and collaboration, the Forum is designed to be a launching ground for widespread action. With more than 2,500 participants in attendance, the Forum features over 100 sessions focused on six themes central to the Rio+20 agenda: Energy & Climate, Water & Ecosystems, Agriculture & Food, Social Development, Urbanization & Cities, and Economics & Finance.

About the UN Global Compact
Launched in 2000, the United Nations Global Compact is a both a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices. As a multi-stakeholder leadership initiative, it seeks to align business operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals. With 7,000 corporate signatories in 135 countries, it is the world’s largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative.

About The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation supports work that expands opportunity and strengthens resilience to social, economic, health and environmental challenges— affirming its pioneering philanthropic mission since 1913 to promote the well-being of humanity. The Foundation operates both within the United States and around the world. The Foundation’s efforts are overseen by an independent Board of Trustees and managed by its president through a leadership team drawn from scholarly, scientific, and professional disciplines.


Media Inquiries:
Laura Gordon, The Rockefeller Foundation, 212 852 8216 or 646-915-2613,

Gavin Power, Deputy Director, UN Global Compact,