The Landscape for Social Impact Investing – a White Paper

Excerpt taken from the full report, available here:


“Opportunity for Impact Impact investing is a term that has recently been introduced into the investment community. It describes a range of finance and investment approaches that have the goal of generating both financial return and benefit to society. In the past five years, the impact investing industry has grown tremendously. In 2010, global assets under management in impact investing were estimated to be approximately $50 billion and are expected to reach at least $400 billion by 2020 (Source: Ibid).”

“The impact investing market in Canada is taking root and poised for significant growth in the coming years, with promising signs for new opportunities. In mid-2012, TD commissioned a team from Purpose Capital and the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing to develop a white paper on the subject to provide investors with a summary of the key trends, issues, and opportunities around impact investing (Source: Ibid).”

What is Impact Investing?

A relatively new term, “impact investing” has been applied to a broad range of activities. The most widely cited definition describes impact investing as “investments intended to create positive impact beyond financial returns”(2) for society. Impact investors put their investments to work to address pressing social and environmental challenges. Some of the impact investing sectors that have gained popularity include:

• Clean technology financing: green infrastructure, alternative energy and energy conservation;

• Community economic development investments: investments in community-based initiatives such as affordable housing, Aboriginal-led businesses, and social enterprises;

• Microfinance: the provision of financial services, such as micro-lending, to undeserved populations;

• Social impact bonds: financing tool for initiatives in the social sector that blend public and private investment.

However the parameters, and the terminology surrounding the concept, continue to evolve. Figure 1 shows TD’s perspective on where impact investing fits within the spectrum of investment approaches:


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