Research

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Overview

Creative people are harnessing the power of business and the marketplace to scale and sustain their ideas. Many of the businesses that artists, designers and other creatives start balance financial profitability with concern for the environment, their workers, and their community. These socially focused companies seek capital from impact investors who understand the power of art, design, culture, heritage and creativity to drive positive environmental and social impact. Together, investors and entrepreneurs can grow the creative economy to become more inclusive, equitable and sustainable. 

In an effort to demystify the creative economy for impact investors, impact fund managers and  other stakeholders, this report dives deep into three large and growing consumer industries within the creative economy: fashion, food and media.

Ethical Fashion – Companies producing clothes, shoes, jewelry and accessories that proactively address industry challenges related to labor, environmental impact, governance, and/or preservation of cultural heritage. Read the Ethical Fashion deep dive here
Sustainable Food – Producers and providers of food and beverage products and experiences that proactively address and raise consumer awareness of resource conservation, preservation of cultural heritage, and/or access to healthy food. Read the Sustainable Food deep dive here
Social Impact Media – Companies that leverage the power of communication, storytelling and technology to drive positive social outcomes at scale, give a platform to under-represented voices and/or build a diverse workforce. Read the Social Impact Media deep dive here

Opportunity and Impact

Concern by consumers about how their food, clothes and entertainment are produced has grown significantly in recent years.  Human well-being and planetary health may have been niche issues in the past, but have evolved into mainstream trends. Consumers are demanding sustainable and ethical business practices from the companies they patronize and are voting with their wallets. But it’s not only about sustainability and ethics.  Consumers are also demanding more engaging, more authentic and a wider variety of products and experiences. Changing demographics in the U.S. require companies to diversify their offerings to appeal to many more distinct audiences. 

Impact investors are attracted to the creative economy by its scale: global problems, big market opportunities, large consumer demand.  Early impact investors in Ethical Fashion are trying to reinvent the global supply chain around sustainability and improved livelihoods. Sustainable Food investors are betting that new, delicious and exciting products and experiences will translate to healthy people and a healthy planet. First movers in Social Impact Media see the power of stories from previously under-represented voices to shape opinions and drive action, while simultaneously creating quality jobs and economic opportunity.

Implications

The creative economy has the capacity to intrigue, engage, educate and activate more mindful consumers so that the benefits of ethical and sustainable supply chains and the full power of media to drive positive change can be realized.  Seasoned impact investors are already putting impact capital to work in Ethical Fashion, Sustainable Food and Social Impact Media. Those who care about shaping a creative economy that is inclusive, equitable, and sustainable will find numerous opportunities to deploy their values-aligned capital.

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