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Farahnaz Karim: Catalytic philanthropy, impact investing & the UN SDGs

In this episode we talk to Dr Farahnaz Karim, Founder & CEO of Insaan Group, about catalytic philanthropy, impact investing and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


  • What does Insaan Group do, and how did the organisation come about?
  • What does the current impact investing market landscape look like? Where is the money coming from, and where is it going?
  • How do we ensure that the focus on social, as well as financial, returns is maintained in impact investing?
  • Is it appropriate to use philanthropic grant money as “first loss” capital to lower the risk of impact investments and make them more appealing?
  • Has the emergence of impact investing increased the overall volume of resources aimed at social good, or is there a danger it is “cannibalising” money that might otherwise have been  given as traditional donations?
  • What is the role of government in relation to impact investing and philanthropy?
  • Are social enterprise models a good way of developing trust in places where levels of trust in traditional philanthropy/NGOs are low?
  • Can investment-type relationships be more empowering for those on the receiving end than gift-type relationships?
  • Are the SDGs broadly focussed on the right things, or are there obvious gaps?
  • Is the appeal of the SDGs partly pragmatic i.e. that even if they are not perfect, they represent a widely-understood and agreed framework for prioritisation and measurement?
  • Is it a challenge for the SDGs that they are so huge in scale it can be difficult for individual organisations to relate them to their work?
  • When it comes to impact measurement, do we need to balance quantitative data with qualitative data?
  • Can technology play a role in making it easier to capture qualitative data?

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