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Moving the Sector Forward

Why It Needs to Move

Addressing the world’s most intractable problems will require an additional $2.5 trillion in funding each year between now and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals’ deadline. Further, too many would-be impact investors, interested in using a market-systems approach to address social and environmental challenges, remain disengaged, uncertain or unwilling to accept positive absolute returns or even risk-adjusted below-market returns in exchange for this high-value social impact.

Innovative Financing for Development

This report draws attention to how “successful innovative financing instruments address a specific market failure, catalyze political momentum to increase and coordinate the resources of multiple governments, and offer contractual certainty to investors.” It further highlights the importance of using market-based instruments to generate positive social and environmental impact.

Across the Returns Continuum

A seminal white paper that, “provides a comprehensive framework for impact investing – a framework for combining commercial capital, subcommercial capital, and grant capital to support promising investees and the markets in which they operate.” It stresses the important roles that Ultra-High-Net-Worth Individuals, Development Finance Institutions and Bilateral Donor Agencies, as well as Foundations play as sources of finance for early-stage impact enterprises.

The Promise of Impact Investing in India

This study notes that while “India has a thriving social enterprise ecosystem, many organizations, however, struggle to access the capital they need. In a survey of Indian social enterprises, 57% identified access to debt or equity as a barrier to growth and sustainability.” It reviews the current status of impact investment market activity in India and recommends improvements.

Impact Investing: Who Are We Serving

Seeking to engage with the assumptions built into impact investing, this report highlights the challenges faced by developing social enterprises without the capacity to provide high financial returns, and the as-yet undervalued utility of supporting such businesses in their growth.

Why it Hasn’t, And Won’t Without Investors’ Action

As development institutions, foundations, nonprofit organizations, high net worth individuals, family offices, and social impact funds, we must commit risk-tolerant capital to serve enterprises just beyond the start-up phase. Further, we need to build more partnerships between ourselves to effectively deploy innovative financing solutions and share lessons learned. With such intentional targeted efforts, a greater proportion of early-stage businesses will be able to strengthen and grow, creating a more equitable and economically developed society.

Making the Case for Early-Stage Impact Investing

Despite the challenges of early stage impact investing, this article articulates the value of committing the time and resources to do so. Particularly noting that, “in order to achieve the far-reaching social outcomes required to solve some of mankind’s most pressing problems, we need young, values-driven entrepreneurs to have more capital, access to resources, and overall support and encouragement for their work.”

Reaching Deep in Low-Income Markets

There have been a number of efforts to better serve those living at the bottom of the pyramid, however, this report asks the question “how deeply down into the BOP we as a field are reaching?” Governments, philanthropic actors, and mission-driven non-profits have critical roles to play in achieving the scalability and sustainability of BOP-focused impact enterprises.

The Missing Middles

In light of identified barriers for select businesses to access capital, “this report proposes a new segmentation framework to help financial service providers, enterprises, donors, limited partners (LPs), and field-building organizations understand and navigate the complex landscape of SGB investment in frontier and emerging markets.” This framework seeks to reduce “confusion in the market and misaligned expectations around risk, financial returns, exit prospects, and impact potential for SGBs.”