By Pierre-Laurent Macridis

Associate - Private Equity, Alternative & Impact Investments

Fondaction

The Diversity of ROI in Impact Investing

My Path to this topic...

Two things lead me down the path of becoming an impact investor:

1) Milton Friedman’s shareholder theory where he states that a corporation’s goal is to maximize returns to shareholders

 

2) Paper / virtual trading as a teenager and subsequently realizing that financial markets didn’t take into account the company's externalities.

As a result of these two things, I knew at the time that there was something fundamentally wrong with how we approach business and finance. Indeed, I always believed that they are the best tools that mankind has developed to effect change at a large scale. These tools are neither inherently good or bad, but in the pursuit of ever-growing profits we’ve lost the balance between the two and the large societal issues described by the United Nation’s sustainable development goals (UN SDGs) are the consequence of this imbalance. 

 A little over a decade ago, Impact Investing was born and continues to evolve in order to better address these challenges. As the market matures, more people pursue opportunities in the space, and more innovative business finance solutions are developed to address the world’s most pressing issues. This constant innovation and collaboration has only made my passion and interest for Impact Investing grow over time.

Pierre-Laurent's Reading List

The GIIN’s research website

Global Impact Investing Network

The Global Impact Investing Network gives free public access to all of its research, webinars and presentations on impact investing on its website. This is single handedly the greatest and most important tool that anyone who is interested in impact investing should use to get up to speed with the industry. On the topic of blended finance and financial returns I would recommend the following readings that can be found on the website:

 

Catalytic First-Loss Capital (CLFC)

Global Impact Investing Network

Despite dating back to 2013, this study remains relevant to this day and is amongst the best introductions I’ve found on the topic of catalytic first-loss capital. This type of capital is essential to the creation of blended finance vehicles that have the potential to generate considerable positive impact by leveraging concessional capital to attract further investments.

Evidence on the Financial Performance of Impact Investments

Global Impact Investing Network

Without already working in impact investing and having extensive investment experience, it is often hard to determine what is a market-rate versus below market rate return. As a result, by benchmarking performance across asset classes, geographic focus and return expectations; this study is a useful tool for evaluating the financial performance of an investment.

Convergence blended finance primer

Convergence

Convergence is the industry leading working group on blended finance in emerging markets. The primer and research section of the Convergence website, in conjunction with the aforementioned GIIN resources, will provide you with everything you need to know on of impact investing with market-rate returns, concessionary returns, and blended finance. You can find their research site here.

Winners take all

Anand Giridharadas

In this book Anand showcases how the global elite's efforts to "change the world" end up only preserving the status quo and obscuring their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve. Although I disagree with the conclusion of this book, it represents the best argued challenge to I’ve heard to my way of thinking and the industry I work in. I believe that it is essential to adventure out of one’s echo chamber and actively seek out opposing points of view; after all an opinion is only worth having if it can be defended. Watch this video if you are not yet convinced to read the full book.

About the Author

As a young teenager I became aware of climate change and the challenges we face in tackling such a global and era defining issue. Because of this, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career that aligned my skills and interests with my need to take. As a result, I started doing various internships ranging from law to consulting, and from corporate finance to traditional private equity. In parallel I also became a student social entrepreneur, creating 5 social enterprises and managing a team of 140+ students. Today I’m pursuing my dream job at as an impact investor where I get to create and manage impact funds that generate positive environmental, social & economic benefits at scale.
 

Recently I’ve had the immense privilege of being nominated to the Global Impact Investing Network’s (GIIN) investor council in recognition of my contribution to the development of the IRIS+ impact framework, my ongoing work with the United Nations, and my thought leadership in developing innovative impact investing vehicles.

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