Impact Investing and Venture Philanthropy’s Role in Sowing the Seeds of Financia
Impact Investing and Venture Philanthropy’s Role in Sowing the Seeds of Financial Opportunity
by Tim Scott / February 17th, 2017
Fast forward to the 1990’s when “venture philanthropy” emerged, shifting the social mission of philanthropy to focus on neoliberal structural adjustment programs, which dictate austerity measures in the service of elite financial investors. Since philanthropic foundations are established and controlled by billionaires whose wealth and power is derived from human exploitation and environmental degradation, this modern pursuit should not come as a surprise. The personal interests of this opulent minority are directly tied to today’s financialized economy as investors and as members of politically influential networks that oversee global financial markets. As such, in the 21st century venture philanthropists have focused their efforts on constructing new financial markets through what is referred to as “mission investing,” “social impact investing,” or just “impact investing.” Impact investing is a continuation of the sixty-year colonizing mission of the IMF, World Bank, World Trade Organization, “Troika” and the United States government; yet with a “friendlier,” but more duplicitous methodology.
This promotional material was published as the world was reeling from the 2008 financial crisis, when predatory investors and banks responsible for inflicting mass suffering were escaping prosecution and instead profiting from government bailouts. It is clear that under the global domain of the state-finance nexus, there is still a need to remind us of their altruistic intent. Yet, one gets a sense that their coded narrative has an emerging boldness, as if they are dropping the pretense of accountability, and instead taking on a more Orwellian “doublethink” approach to propagandizing.
Impact investing was spawned from two Rockefeller Foundation convened meetings in 2007 where the attendees – leaders of finance, philanthropy and neoliberal development – were tasked with building the structural framework for an efficient worldwide social and environmental impact investment industry. Attendees agreed to create a global network of leading impact investors, a standardized framework for assessing social and environmental impact and to initiate a working group of investors that would focus on financing a sustainable market-based agricultural industry in sub-Saharan Africa. These efforts led to the establishment of the Global Impact Investment Network (GIIN) in 2009, as a tax-exempt non-profit organization based in the United States.
As briefly documented earlier, GIIN’s founding member, the Rockefeller Foundation, along with the Rockefeller family, have a dark history of leveraging their wealth and power in the service of U.S hegemony, both domestically and internationally. In line with the legacy of John D. Rockefeller Senior, the Rockefeller Foundation went on to become an influential founding member of the “Washington Consensus” and has since been an aggressive supporter of the IMF and World Bank’s draconian policies and practices. The Rockefeller family and its foundation were also early activists and funders of eugenics based population control efforts in the U.S. and abroad via forced sterilization of “inferior” populations (Black, Brown and disabled people). As Edwin Black documented in his 2003 San Francisco Chronicle article “Eugenics and the Nazis — The California Connection,” “Eugenics would have been so much bizarre parlor talk had it not been for extensive financing by corporate philanthropies, specifically the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman railroad fortune.” According to Black, “the Rockefeller Foundation helped found the German eugenics program and even funded the program that Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz.”
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