Impact Investing

Echoing Green’s Impact Investing program stems from our long history of selecting, seeding, and supporting social entrepreneurs.

In the past decade we’ve helped seed the growing momentum around for-profit and hybrid business models: in 2006, only 15 percent of our Fellowship applications had elements of for-profit business models; in 2015, they had increased to 50 percent.

Featured Resource

Deviation from the Standard: Funding and Supporting Emerging Social Entrepreneurs

October 2015

ReportAs the social entrepreneurship field evolves to include innovative profit- and impact-generating models, new types of finance and assistance that support these innovative leaders must also emerge.

Find more of our publications on Impact Investing and other topics on our new Publications page. »

“Impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Impact investments can be made in both emerging and developed markets, and target a range of returns from below market to market rate.”




Our Model


We mobilize our network of search partners to attract over 3,000 Fellowship applicants per year. Each application is vetted by staff, sector and regional experts, investors, and established Fellows from previous years. Using our Fellow selection criteria, which prioritize applicants with transformative social impact potential, we choose less than 2 percent to become Echoing Green Fellows. We select for an entrepreneur's leadership ability and dedication to the issues being addressed, combined with business model feasibility.


While nonprofit organizations are awarded grants as their Fellowship stipend, since 2011 we have provided for-profit companies with recoverable grants. Recoverable grants are designed to be risk tolerant and inexpensive capital aimed at supporting future generations of social entrepreneurs through their success. As Fellows' businesses achieve certain financial thresholds, it triggers payback. Echoing Green then recycles that money to fund future Fellows. If the business does not hit the thresholds, then they do not pay us back.


Communicating the Need
Echoing Green is one of the few seed funders of for-profit social enterprises. Through site visits to regional impact investing hubs, global conferences, and industry events, we are spreading urgency around this lack of appropriate capital, and are encouraging others to join us and also provide follow-on investment.

Contributing Data & Knowledge
We're sharing what we've learned from our track record of finding, selecting, and supporting successful social entrepreneurs. By elevating the entrepreneurial perspective on raising start-up impact investment, trends in for-profit applications, and innovative models of seed-stage investment, we hope to inform and increase the flow of early stage impact capital and investment-readiness support.

Connecting with Stakeholders
The impact investment market is fragmented, so we’re connecting with impact investors around the world. We invite investors into the Echoing Green community to learn about and collaborate on emerging investment opportunities, challenges, and trends.