The Ford Foundation has long been a pioneer when it comes to supporting social change via social sector innovations such as the Green Revolution, microfinance, public-private partnerships in cities, and impact investment. In this interview, Christine Looney, senior program investment officer in the Impact Investing program, and Graham MacMillan, Senior Program Officer for Impact Investing and Inclusive Economies, discuss the foundation’s long standing commitment to impact investment — and its recently announced commitment to invest $1 billion from endowment to mission-related investments, to be phased in over 10 years, the largest commitment of its kind by a private foundation.
Christine and Graham talk about the background to this decision — how this is an outgrowth of the Foundation’s existing work in the area of Program Related Investments– and identify where this fits into the Foundation’s existing programmes. They talk about the specific aims of this impact investment initiative –in both social and financial returns-and how the Foundation hopes to send a signal and provide insights to other foundations and institutional investors that might be interested in considering this kind of impact investing. They also talk about and the important work that the Foundation does helping to build market infrastructure for impact investment.
Christine Looney serves as the senior program investment officer in the Ford Foundation’s Impact Investing program where she manages Ford’s $280 million Program-Related Investment Fund; Christine has been working over the past 18 months as part of a team responsible for developing the Ford Foundation’s Mission Related Investment programme. Graham MacMillan is a Senior Program Officer for Impact Investing and Inclusive Economies at the Ford Foundation where he leads the grant-making strategy that is closely coordinated with the foundation’s work on program-related investments, and has a particular focus on the development of market infrastructure for impact investment.