What is Impact Investing?
Impact investing refers to investments “made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return.” Impact investments provide capital to address social and/or environmental issues. They can be made in either emerging or developed markets, and depending on the goals of the investors, can “target a range of returns from below-market to above-market rates”. Impact investors actively seek to place capital in businesses, nonprofits, and funds in industries such as renewable energy, basic services including housing, healthcare, and education, microfinance, and sustainable agriculture. Impact investing occurs across asset classes; for example, private equity/venture capital, debt, and fixed income.
Institutional investors, notably North American and European development finance institutions, pension funds and endowments have played a leading role in the development of impact investing. Under Pope Francis, the Catholic Church has witnessed an increased interest in impact investing.