Impact investing in the framework of business and human rights

31-07-2020

Impact investments are an emerging sustainable investment strategy and represent a small and medium enterprise-led approach to development. Impact investments are executed only when a positive financial return can be achieved alongside a measurable positive impact on an individual or societal level. Impact investors thus go beyond more established sustainable investment strategies such as exclusion or integration by explicitly aiming at impact, investing in business models that directly address social issues. Most impact investment funds invest in areas such as healthcare, education or employment and thus improve the situation of the target group. At the same time, however, there is no explicit human rights perspective integrated into the investment process yet. Given the rather small scale of investments which is usually in the range of EUR 200 000 to EUR 5 million per transaction, unintended negative consequences can occur, if only to a very limited extent. This in-depth analysis discusses the impact investing industry in the context of sustainable finance and analyses central aspects of the concept such as financing instruments, the impact measurement process or the impact logic of the investors. The analysis also discusses the limitations impact investing faces such as commercial boundaries of business models, and illustrates modified concepts to mitigate these challenges which are summarised as social finance.

Impact investments are an emerging sustainable investment strategy and represent a small and medium enterprise-led approach to development. Impact investments are executed only when a positive financial return can be achieved alongside a measurable positive impact on an individual or societal level. Impact investors thus go beyond more established sustainable investment strategies such as exclusion or integration by explicitly aiming at impact, investing in business models that directly address social issues. Most impact investment funds invest in areas such as healthcare, education or employment and thus improve the situation of the target group. At the same time, however, there is no explicit human rights perspective integrated into the investment process yet. Given the rather small scale of investments which is usually in the range of EUR 200 000 to EUR 5 million per transaction, unintended negative consequences can occur, if only to a very limited extent. This in-depth analysis discusses the impact investing industry in the context of sustainable finance and analyses central aspects of the concept such as financing instruments, the impact measurement process or the impact logic of the investors. The analysis also discusses the limitations impact investing faces such as commercial boundaries of business models, and illustrates modified concepts to mitigate these challenges which are summarised as social finance.

Externe auteur

Dr. Barbara SCHECK, Dr. Wolfgang SPIESS-KNAFL.