social impact

Big Society Capital

Big Society Capital

Expanding Corporate Engagement in the UK Social Investment Market

Big Society Capital was established by the UK government in April 2012 with the purpose of stimulating the UK social investment market. Big Society Capital seeks to support financial intermediaries to invest in the social sector, raise awareness, and promote best practices within social investment.


During a seven-week project, Oliver Wyman carried out structured interviews with a number of CSR heads at major corporates active in social investment, as well as executives at firms that are not currently involved in that sector. In parallel, we ran a detailed scan of social activity documenting the details of over 500 CSR and social investment programmes from over 100 of the world's largest corporates. This was used to develop a high-level engagement strategy for Big Society Capital to maximise its impact on the sector.

Following this, we were asked to undertake a second, six-week project, examining the ways in which Big Society Capital can utilise new financial products to stimulate growth in the Social Enterprise market in the UK. Oliver Wyman utilised our network of experts and contacts in leading development bodies such as the European Investment Fund and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to understand which financial products may be suitable , and how they could address Big Society Capital's challenges.

Social investment needs high quality advisory work of the kind you have produced this year….We hope to partner again with you in the future
Big Society Capital


The initial project helped Big Society Capital understand the market landscape for corporate social investment, and to identify three models of existing engagement for corporates. As a result, Big Society Capital refined its perspectives on the market, prioritised its activities, and informed the Business Impact Challenge which is currently running to crowd-in corporate investorsclarified its role as a development institution versus that of the other necessary participants in social investment.

The second project allowed Big Society Capital to compare its existing financing offering (co-investment) with the broader range of financial solutions found at other development institutions. Importantly, it also highlighted the use of non-financial products in strategy (e.g., ‘test and learn’ and advisory). Findings from our work on alternative financing structures are available on Big Society Capital’s website, and Oliver Wyman and Big Society Capital have subsequently co-authored a report outlining how corporates can better engage in social investment.

The insight the project gave to the role CSR plays in our clients commercial strategy really added an extra dimension to how I approach my projects following this project
Matt Craggs Oliver Wyman