One decade since its birth, the impact investing market has grown exponentially to several hundred billion dollars. Although promising, this figure is dwarfed by the major financing gap that still remains if we are to meet the world's sustainable development needs. In order to scale and capture the hundreds of trillions of private capital available for social good, it will be crucial to address the biggest question in impact investing today: who is willing to take on risk? Specifically, who is willing to take on the risk of innovation; the risk of valuing women and the underserved in financial markets and the risk of giving a voice to the voiceless? This chapter examines a novel ecosystem approach, developed over the past decade by Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) to address risk and find solutions to it at multiple levels of the social capital markets value chain. By incorporating the voices of underserved beneficiaries in impact assessments; providing impact enterprises with technical assistance, investment readiness and capital raising support and using innovative financial mechanisms to catalyse greater change, IIX has unlocked millions of dollars of investment capital while improving the risk–return–impact profile of investments. To lead impact investing in the long term, those in the sector must similarly learn to embrace and address risk through creative, practical and inclusive approaches that give voice and value to society's most vulnerable.
The Author would like to thank and acknowledge Jennifer Chien, Director, Knowledge Management of IIX and Shibao Pek, Summer Associate for their contribution to the paper.
Shahnaz, D. (2021), "The Risks Not Taken: Building Inclusive Markets for Underserved Communities", Richards, A. and Nicholls, J. (Ed.) Generation Impact, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 87-96. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78973-929-920200008
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