Meet the World’s Largest Impact Investing Network

By Meredith Martindale, Investors’ Circle, an Exponent Philanthropy Professional Partner

Investors’ Circle (IC) is the world’s largest and most active impact investing network and has invested over $200 million into more than 330 enterprises dedicated to improving the environment, education, health, and community. The organization was founded in 1992 by a group of successful social entrepreneurs who shared a desire to increase the flow of capital to the next generation of mission-driven companies.

Over the years, IC has worked with other leading organizations, including the Ford Foundation, F.B. Heron Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, and Rockefeller Foundation to build both mission- and program-related investing knowledge base. As IC brought together thought leaders, new initiatives were conceived and incubated, including sector leaders B Lab, Slow Money, and the Patient Capital Collaborative.

In 2009, IC introduced a local network strategy with Philadelphia being the flagship network. Since then, local networks are now active in five other geographies around the country: Boulder-Denver, Boston, New York, Raleigh-Durham, and Washington, DC.

Though the organization is headquartered in Durham, NC, its 230+ members are spread across the country and convene regularly at in-person pitch meetings and investor education workshops.

What is IC’s key to success over the past 25 years?

Our members. 

As such, I’m delighted to introduce you to Annarie Lyles, an IC lifetime member and current president of the IC Philadelphia Local Network.

Annarie Lyles, IC Philadelphia Local Network President

IC: Tell us about yourself and your passions.

Annarie: I am passionate about local nonprofit initiatives for lower-impact living and serve on environmental boards of our regional Watershed Association, Sustainable Princeton, and Rachel’s Network. I also preside over a Family Council that represents shareholders in a California business with environmental engineering and agricultural operations. At home, I talk shop with ecology professor Andy Dobson, abide with teens Allegra & Alistair, and relish woodland rambles with friends and hounds.

IC: What impact investing sectors interest you the most?

Annarie: My focus is healthy living systems, so I gravitate towards the Environment, Energy, and Sustainable Ag tracks, but I am sometimes drawn to companies in other tracks like Health and Global, too.

IC: How did you get started in impact investing?

Annarie: A midlife crisis! The things that I’ve been dreading for decades are happening now—climate change, the 6th extinction, the demographic winter… It felt like time to do something different, and impact investing was one of the things I tried and felt good about—it is a tremendously hopeful thing to do!

IC: What are your financial and impact return goals?

Annarie: My passion is helping to advance solutions. As I evaluate each investing opportunity, I try to think about how the business aligns with my focus, and how I can recognize impact. Financially, my goal is to make a decent return on investment and help convince myself and others that one can do good and do well!

IC: What advice would you offer to an IC member who is new to impact investing?

Annarie: Joining Investor’s Circle is a great first step! There is a lot to learn but much wisdom in the group. Fellow members can help you understand the timelines, the risks, the need to think in terms of a portfolio, deal terms, and the importance of ongoing information and good records.

IC: What has been your most gratifying experience with impact investing?

Annarie: Probably the relationships that one develops with co-investors and entrepreneurs—it is a wonderfully smart and insightful “tribe.”

Join forces with IC members like Annarie by exploring upcoming pitch meetings and education workshops.

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