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Opinion

Impact investing: The mindless mantra – ‘doing well by doing good’

To bring about fundamental change and to find long-lasting solutions, isn’t always pretty and it is certainly not always a win-win in the financial sense.

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On the recommendation of a few people in the impact investment community I am reading ‘Winners take all: The elite charade of changing the world’, and although I’m only a third of the way through, I’m already reeling. By next month you may find me with my head in my hands – it wasn’t the best pick for a cheery holiday read. 

Author Anand Giridharadas’ depiction of the Silicon Valley elite evangelizing its role in saving the world, while failing to recognize it has become part of the problem, is both startlingly harsh and obviously fair. 

Also fair is his point that, as banks and consultancy firms market themselves as institutions that can change the world in their bid to attract graduates, they are diverting attention from the public sector, which has real power to change systems through good old-fashioned legislation and regulation, and is in dire need of bright, forward-thinking, enthusiastic people. 

My takeaway so far is that the ubiquitous mantra of ‘doing well by doing good’ chanted by tech entrepreneurs and impact investors encourages a mindset that says: ‘I will do good and I welcome good only if it is not painful for me or society.’ 




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