Bringing Impact Investing into Focus

By Neil Gregory, Chief Thought Leadership Officer, IFC

planting-moneyLooking to invest for impact? Better put on a good pair of glasses, because at first glance so much of it looks rather fuzzy. Is it a USD 500 billion market or a USD 1.3 trillion market, as reports by the GIIN and UNPRI state? Is it only a private equity and debt play or do green bonds and public equity funds count? Many investment products say “impact” on the label, but what is really inside the wrapper?

This fuzziness reflects the rapid growth in interest from retail investors and asset owners to put their money to work in ways that generate impact alongside financial returns. The impact investing industry has scrambled to keep up with this growth in interest, rapidly outscaling the size of the small specialist impact funds that once dominated the market. As mainstream asset managers and investment banks move in, it is understandable that investors find it hard to get a clear view on which investments will truly deliver impact and which ones are just exercises in branding. Continue reading