Boston, April 18, 2023—Long before the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling overturning Roe v. Wade in June 2022, reproductive care in the United States languished as an overlooked, “niche” market for investors. But times are changing, according to a new Bridgespan report, “Opportunities for Impact Investing to Champion Reproductive Care After Dobbs."Marina Fisher, a principal at Bridgespan and one of the report’s authors says, “Since the Dobbs ruling, private investors and philanthropic organizations have stepped up their pursuit of mission-driven impact investments in reproductive care enterprises, especially those serving systemically underserved individuals and communities.”
Despite this uptick, the authors say that there are many foundations and wealth-holders who see the field solely through the lens of philanthropy, missing the potential impact of their investment dollars. “To help them channel their ambition, Bridgespan undertook this first of its kind report to identify opportunities in the reproductive field where investors can deploy capital immediately as a complement to existing philanthropic funding,” says Fisher.
The research was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The team conducted an extensive literature review and interviewed more than two dozen stakeholders, including reproductive care experts, funders (including high-net-worth individuals), impact investment fund managers, and community development finance institution leaders, to identify investment opportunities that can improve the quality of reproductive and maternal health care for all people who can become pregnant, says Lauren McDermott, a Bridgespan associate consultant and report coauthor. “Our research is being released on the heels of last week's Black Maternal Health Week and as we await a pending court decision in Texas that could overturn FDA approval for abortion medication,” says McDermott.
“We wanted to make sure investors were able to match action with their intention,” says coauthor Nate Wong, a partner at Bridgespan. The report is a call to action for impact investment in the reproductive field and introduces investors to:
- Pathways to strengthen reproductive care: We introduce the interconnected work of reproductive health, rights, and justice and their distinct strategies to safeguard and expand equitable access to a full spectrum of respectful and quality reproductive care.
- Entry points for impact investment in reproductive health: We identify nine types of impact investment opportunities sorted into five categories based on stated goals: harm reduction, equity focus, scale and reach, catalytic potential, and holistic impact. These categories represent distinct “entry points” for potential impact investors. With each, we briefly describe one example enterprise with near-term investment potential and list one or more similar organizations that also merit consideration.
- Navigating the nuances of investing in the reproductive care ecosystem: We share insights on navigating the tensions and obstacles that have historically hobbled reproductive health investment and collaboration and share advice on how to help the reproductive health field shed its chronic niche investment status—done in an equitable manner.
“The magnitude of the current challenge—and thus the opportunity—requires a large-scale infusion of capital from diverse sources. In particular, reproductive health enterprises meeting the needs of underserved communities and individuals need investment capital to grow. This makes reproductive health an attractive area for impact investment,” says Wong. “It is more important now than ever.”
About the Bridgespan Group
The Bridgespan Group (www.bridgespan.org) is a global nonprofit that collaborates with social change organizations, philanthropists, and impact investors to make the world more equitable and just. Bridgespan’s services include strategy consulting and advising, sourcing and diligence, and leadership team support. We take what we learn from this work and build on it with original research, identifying best practices and innovative ideas to share with the social sector. We work from locations in Boston, Johannesburg, Mumbai, New York, and San Francisco.