Episode 7 Interview with Jim Sorenson: how Foundations can catalyse social entrepreneurship using PRIs

Jim Sorenson is a highly successful entrepreneur and business executive who has become a pioneer in the field of impact investing. Jim has built successful companies in sectors ranging from technology and life sciences to real estate and private equity investment. Following his experience setting up a videophone for the deaf community, Jim became interested in field of social innovation and has become an active investor and supporter of social entrepreneurship. Jim endowed the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah to create the James Lee Sorenson Global Impact Investing Center. He also supports social entrepreneurs via a number of foundations, including the Sorenson Impact Foundation, the James Lee Sorenson Family Foundation, and the Beverley Taylor Sorenson FoundationIn this interview, Jim talks in detail about the different kinds of funding that he provides through various foundations, focussing in particular on his interest in helping social ventures bridge the pioneer gap; and he discusses the work of the Sorenson Global Impact Investing Center. In recent years, Jim has also become a leader in the field of Programme Related Investments (PRIs) –an important and under-utilised source of catalytic capital to support social innovation. Jim talks about the crucial role that PRIs can play supporting social entrepreneurs prove out new ideas and social business models—and the promise of PRIs, particularly within new creative financial structures like social impact bonds and pay per success initiatives. Finally, Jim discusses some of the companies he has supported, talks about what he looks for in a social venture, and provides invaluable advice for social entrepreneurs seeking funding.