Investment dollars invested into impact funds promise to make a quantifiable social impact, as well as a financial return. Making money and doing good: Impact investing is catching on.
Since 2001, impact VC firms have raised $13 billion to invest in companies that provide a social or environmental benefit as part of running their for-large-profit business. Indeed, $10 billion of that has been raised since 2010 alone. Impact VCs are VCs first that intend to generate market-beating financial returns because of, not in spite of, an impact-oriented investment thesis.
In the past two years BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, launched a new division called “Impact”; Goldman Sachs, an investment bank, acquired an impact-investment firm, Imprint Capital; and two American private-equity firms, Bain Capital and TPG, launched impact funds. The main driver of all this activity is investor demand.
Darren Walker spoke back in May as part of a plenary session at the Mission Investors Exchange (MIE) conference — ground zero for impact investing aficionados — in Baltimore. The CEO of the Ford Foundation made an impassioned plea for tearing down the walls between the grantmaking functions of foundations and their investment offices.
The call to address the world’s social and environmental issues is yielding a response from what some may consider an unexpected place: private equity. The reality is, however, that not only are private equity investors logical partners for anyone seeking to bring about impactful change — but they are also critical to building a better world.