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Conference in Rome Will Focus on Impact Investing to Help the Poor

June 12, 2014 by

Paul Eagle
Text +1. 410.370.8171

Business and Church Leaders Respond to Pope Francis’ Challenge to Help People out of Poverty

BALTIMORE, MD, June 12, 2014 — Catholic Relief Services and the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, together with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP), will convene a two-day symposium regarding Impact Investing to be held just outside the Vatican in Rome, Italy on June 16-17, 2014. Impact Investing — investments made with the intention to achieve a measurable social and environmental impact alongside a fair financial return — holds great promise as a tool to serve the projected 1 billion people living in extreme poverty by 2015 and indeed all of humanity.

This conference will bring together leaders and experts from a number of areas, specifically in the field of investing where both economic and social returns are part of determining the return on investment. The seminar aims to discuss ways to unlock the power of public and private capital, and to complement philanthropy as part of fighting poverty and promoting positive social change.

Business, finance, academic, humanitarian and faith-based communities, including the Catholic Church, will discuss core concepts of Impact Investing, how to actively promote and utilize Impact Investing in the future and how Impact Investing aligns with the mission and social teachings communicated regularly by Pope Francis and others on behalf of the Catholic Church.

“Pope Francis has called on the world to find ways to use wealth to help the poor and each and every one of us,” said Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo, president & CEO of Catholic Relief Services. “Impact Investing is an approach to eradicate poverty by putting investment capital to work in addressing the growing inequality in the world today. It is important we all take a lead role to actively evaluate the use of innovative financing to serve the poor, and that is what this conference is all about.”

Research suggests that the impact investment market is growing and could accumulate to more than US $650 billion within the next five years. Today Impact Investing is generally composed of private capital that complements public resources and charitable donations to foster social justice while tackling global challenges, including sustainable agriculture, affordable housing and accessible healthcare.

These issues were near the top of the agenda at last year’s G8 summit that culminated in the creation of a task force charged with exploring the potential of social investments to help tackle social issues.

“Earlier this year, I shared the sentiments of the Holy Father at the World Economic Forum in Davos emphasizing, ‘the importance that the various political and economic sectors have in promoting an inclusive approach which takes into consideration the dignity of every human person and the common good…a concern that ought to shape every political and economic decision’”, said Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of PCJP. “Our hope is that after this conference that the tools, ideas and initiatives will be put in place to help each of us consider both the social value of the decisions we make at the same time as economic decisions are taking place, rather than what often seems as though the social aspect is more of an afterthought.”

Conference attendees are currently expected to be invited to an audience with Pope Francis during the conference and share information about how Impact Investing can be used in helping people who are marginalized, disadvantaged and living in poverty.

Dr. Roger Huang, Martin J. Gillen Dean of the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame University, further commented that, “Historically, financial investment and helping the poor have been considered two separate functions: You make money through financial investing, and help the poor by giving away money. ‘Impact Investing’ merges the two in a very powerful way, so that an investor’s value system and business knowledge align toward a shared goal of creating wealth while also achieving social and environmental objectives. This is a transformational approach to affecting world poverty, and one that fits perfectly with Mendoza’s mission.”

Notable individuals presenting at the Impact Investing Conference include:

His Eminence Peter K. A. Card. Turkson
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo
President & CEO, Catholic Relief Services

Dean Roger Huang
Martin J. Gillen Dean for the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame

Sir Ronald Cohen
Chair of the G8 Social Impact Investment Task Force

Dr. Mirza Jahani
CEO, Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A.

Ernest von Freyberg
President, Institute for Works of Religion, The Holy See

Sr. Helen J. Alford, O.P.
The Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas

Fr. Seamus Finn, OMI
Vice Chair of the Board, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

Dr. Patricia Dinneen
Chair, Impact Investing Council, Emerging Markets Private Equity Association

Paul Polak
Founder and CEO of Windhorse International, author of Business Solutions for Poverty

Dr. Rajiv Shah
Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development

Terry Mollner
Board Member, Calvert Family of Socially Responsible Investment Funds

John Kohler
Director, Impact Capital, Santa Clara University


Conference website: 

Media contacts:
Catholic Relief Services
Mendoza Business College

A daily summary will be posted on the conference website.

Speaker bios and high resolution photos of the conference will be made available on the media link found on the conference website during the seminar.

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About Catholic Relief Services
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency eases suffering and provides assistance to people in need in 93 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. For more information, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media: Facebook, Twitter at @CatholicRelief and @CRSnews,  Google+Pinterest and YouTube.

About the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame
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