According to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), impact investing is investing with the intention to generate positive, measurable impact on top of financial return. This includes investing in business models that with an environment, social and corporate governance (ESG) focus. Impact investing has gained intense interest in recent years as more and more investors demand for returns not just in monetary terms, but also expect more capital to be allocated in areas that generate a positive impact on society.
GIIN also collaborated with Intellecap on a report that looks at impact investing activity in Southeast Asia during the period 2007 to 2017. Based on the report, a total of US$904 million of capital was deployed by private impact investors (including fund managers, family offices and foundations) while US$11.2 billion was deployed by development finance insitutions (government-backed financial institutions).
The report also touched on gender lens investing (investing with the intent to address gender issues and/or promote gender equality), a sub-category of impact investing. The report concluded that some investors apply a gender lens to their investments, but broader awareness of the concept remains limited. The report also noted that almost 90% of the capital invested using a gender lens looked at microfinance (which largely serves female customers) and investments that promote women financial inclusion.
We hope that the interest in gender lens investing will continue to grow alongside with impact investing. Also, given the importance of gender lens investing in supporting the growth in microfinance in Southeast Asia, we believe more underprivileged women will benefit from investors’ growing interest in gender lens investing and therefore help to uplift more women as well as households out of poverty.