This short format piece targeting impact investors and social entrepreneurs provides real-world examples of impact investing for social return based on author-developed cases derived from their work and research. It covers two overarching themes of impact investing with cases and supporting evidence. Coverage includes:
MISSION FIRST AND LASTSummary of Theme: - Myth: Impact investing is either 'financial-first' or 'impact-first', where either financial returns or impact are prioritized across each stage of a fund's or organization's lifecycle.- Reality: Impact investing involves weighing financial and impact objectives differently throughout fund lifecycles. A clearly embedded strategy and structure for achieving mission is at the core of enabling a financial process of investing and in outperforming funds, this happens before any investment is made, and then again in the assessment of mission at the end of the investment. In between, most funds act very much like other investors, and financial concerns dominate.- Fund examples: Microvest's founding by 2 global nonprofits and resulting practices; Bridges Ventures building in government goals and nonprofit trust structure from outset; RSF Social Finance's funding areas and interest rates decided by its investors; then loan portfolios are managed with mainstream discipline.
MULTILINGUAL LEADERSHIPSummary of Theme: - Myth: A single-minded focus on the financial elements of impact investing will guarantee success- Reality: Even as those responsible for making investments must be rigorously financial-aware, fund strategy and leadership is a cross-sector discipline and requires familiarity with policy, business and social sectors.- Fund examples: Omidyar Network's professional EBay and investment- background staff turning to policy and infrastructure development to move a sector as a foundation would; Aavishkar's founders have government fund backgrounds and include an Ashoka (social enterprise) fellow.