Innovative companies are using profitable business models to generate positive social change. By investing in social innovation, businesses are discovering new paths for growth and impact at scale. The Business Impact Challenge was launched by Big Society Capital in December 2014 to encourage and support the growth of corporate social investing.


Josoa Davies


Steve McGrath


Frank Bishop


Rick O’Donohoe


Elsa Lynch


Business Impact Challenge is the world’s first social investment bank, set up to build the social investment market in the United Kingdom. Big Society Capital launched the Business Impact Challenge in December 2014 to solicit high-impact social investment ideas from corporates that will generate strong business and social value in the United Kingdom. The best idea will receive from £5 million to £15 million in matching investment and support from Big Society Capital.*

The deadline for applications was 1st May 2015 for assessment by an expert panel of innovative business leaders and social entrepreneurs. The panel assessed ideas on three criteria: their social impact, business model and ability to deliver. Over the Summer 2015, shortlisted applications will be developed by the corporates and their partners. A winner will be announced in Autumn 2015.

Examples of high impact investment ideas

Corporate investment funds: Investing directly in social enterprises
Social purpose joint ventures: Collaborations between businesses and social purpose
organisations to tackle a social issue with a business model
Social impact bonds: Purchasing social outcomes like literacy, or disease
prevention, with payment by results

Examples of companies leading the way

Social Need

One in three children in Bangladesh are underweight because of malnutrition. Many of these children live in rural areas underserved by traditional retail channels.


Nando’s, Coca-Cola and Anglo-American have helped design a pay-for-performance bond to increase funding and effectiveness of malaria interventions.


Reducing malaria rates will improve health outcomes, reduce employee absenteeism due to illness and improve employee engagement across the partner organisations.



Business Impact Challenge entries will be assessed against the following criteria:

Social Impact

Social intent

  • Clearly articulated social purpose in the United Kingdom

Business link

  • Link between social outcomes and commercial success
  • Additionally created beyond the existing business model


  • Commitment to measuring and monitoring social outcomes
  • Consideration of social impact risks

Business Model

Revenue model

  • Ability to generate revenue on an ongoing basis
  • Appropriate costs and resourcing

Investment vehicle

  • Degree to which investment vehicle represents an innovation in the market


  • Minimum 5% financial return with appropriate risk-return trade-off


Competitive advantage

  • Extent to which delivery utilises the expertise, resources and network of the business

Track record

  • Strong management team and corporate governance
  • Previous experience and/or evidence of approach


  • Seniority of internal sponsor (board or management team)

Pre-application webinar

To support the development of proposals ahead of 1st May entry deadline, Big Society Capital hosted two webinars about the Business Impact Challenge on 28 January and 11 February 2015. You can watch a video from one of them here:

Pre-application event: A masterclass for intrapreneurs

On 14th April Big Society Capital hosted a workshop for applicants to refine their submissions to the Business Impact Challengeahead of 1st May entry deadline. The day was be facilitated by Milan Samani, Director of The Intrapreneur Lab, and Dr Erik Simanis, Head of Frontier Markets at Cornell University and over 30 companies attended.


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Following the first Panel meeting to select a shortlist from first round applications, we are delighted to have announced in the Financial Times the five corporates progressing through the Business Impact Challenge. Applications will be developed and progressed over the Summer with Big Society Capital support and ahead of final presentations to the Panel in Autumn 2015.

The shortlisted businesses are:

  • ASDA – working with local social enterprises, supporting them to bring products and services to market.
  • Interserve – in partnership with the charity Catch22 to create an independent vehicle that enables community organisations, charities and social enterprises to deliver public services at scale.
  • Land Securities – working with the learning disability charity Mencap to launch the first ‘social’ Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) that enables charities and social enterprises to finance existing properties.
  • Taylor Wimpey – working with the charity Crisis to explore viable housing solutions for single homeless people.
  • Wates – a fund that invests in and scales up the most successful social enterprises in its national supply chain for the construction industry.