(Vatican Radio) The Vatican is set to host its second conference on Impact Investing on June 26-28 entitled 'Making the Year of Mercy a Year of Impact for the Poor'.
The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, along with Catholic Relief Services, will host the event whose focus is on capacity building for Church enterprises. Impact investing actively seeks to make a positive impact by investing in non-profits that benefit the community or in clean technology enterprises.
An overview of the conference provided by the Pontifical Council said impact investing is a more sustainable way to support the 'vision, passion and demonstrated excellence of Catholic social ministries' than charitable gifts and grants which it says will not provide sufficient support in the long-term for these important ministries.
"For nearly 2000 years, the Catholic Church has developed and operated social ministries, gaining the trust and friendship of the people it serves. These works now form the backbone of many countries’ infrastructure for health care, education and social services. The Catholic Church has conducted social ministries and gained respect from local and national leaders. For centuries, in Africa, Asia and Latin America, Catholic missionaries have toiled in service of the poor," the overview says.
The overview says that 'many dioceses support themselves through businesses that produce wine, cheese, maize or cassava flour, caskets, art objects and furniture; some religious organizations have established credit unions and cooperatives, microcredit programs and “fair trade” schemes; and some dioceses own commercial property and run agricultural processing enterprises.'
This year's conference on Impact Investing will include approximately 140 participants from around the world and is intended to act as 'a catalyst in the Church’s efforts to shift social programming to social enterprise and a forum to create new partnerships to sustain this work'.
The two broad objective of the conference are to:
(1) explore when and how the Catholic Church and other faith-based institutions can employ a market-based model that utilizes private capital and new partnerships to attain and sustain their social mission; and
(2) enable these institutions, at an early stage of deliberation and visioning, to interact with and learn from successful social entrepreneurs and impact investors.
The conference falls during the Jubilee of Mercy and just over a year after Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical Laudato Si'.
Catholic Relief Services will hold a 3-day workshop ahead of the Vatican conference for select participants to present key concepts related to faith-based social enterprise and impact investing.
(Devin Sean Watkins)