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The landscape of impact investing in emerging markets

Hero image description: Overlooking the central Kumasi market at closing time in Kumasi, Ghana Image credit:Jonathan Ernst / World Bank Image license:Creative Commons
Impact investing is not a new approach to addressing development challenges. The release of a report in 2010 by JP Morgan and the GIIN however, drew significant additional attention to the concept of investing for profit and social or environmental impact, estimating that the impact investment  market could reach $400 billion to $1 trillion through 2020, while providing new and innovative development solutions.

In partnership with Shell Foundation, ODI has conducted a pilot study with a corresponding executive summary to map the magnitude and nature of funding currently provided in middle income and low income countries across the typical growth path of a social enterprise. Using publicly available data, surveys and targeted interviews we estimated the volume of finance committed, against a defined typology of actors and instruments, at each stage of the enterprise lifetime. We have:
  • developed and tested a methodology to create a comprehensive picture of impact investment in emerging markets
  • support assessments of the effectiveness of current activities
  • identified opportunities for new interventions

These findings attracted interest from a broad spectrum of actors, ranging from providers of development assistance to private investors. Recently there has been a proliferation of ‘impact’ investors, funds, and intermediaries, along with the establishment of a number of initiatives dedicated to the measurement and reporting of ‘impact’. In parallel, a small number of primarily qualitative studies have sought to further define and measure aspects of the impact investment universe . However, understanding of the current landscape and scale of impact investment in emerging markets remains unclear. This is in part due its broad definition, which includes a diversity of funding sources, instruments, and actors with a variety of goals.


Emily Darko, Grace Howells