This so-called sustainable investing market has grown almost 25% since 2014, and now represents $23 trillion in assets globally, including over 25% of all professionally managed assets. Many large asset managers (e.g., Goldman Sachs, Bain Capital, TPG, Blackrock, State Street) are establishing impact investment practices and products to meet the demands of capital owners, including pension funds, endowments, and family offices.

The promise of “doing well by doing good” is seductive and has garnered significant attention by mainstream media, government, and financial institutions. Many have made bold claims about the potential for investment to solve global problems, while earning returns that are competitive or better. Skeptics argue a focus on social impact may distract from and reduce returns, or even shift funding away from worthy philanthropic causes.

Through teaching, research and engagement with practioners and alumni, we are critically examining questions such as: What is the purpose of impact investing? What return profiles are realistic? Does impact investing actually create social value? How is and how should social value be defined and measured? What does it mean in practice to be an impact investor?

An active community of faculty are teaching on and researching these topics from various perspectives, including Shawn Cole, Vikram Gandhi, Michael Chu, Kash Rangan, George Serafeim, Julie Battilana, and others.

Our alumni are shaping, accelerating and leading investing for impact across the globe– from BlackRock, to Root Capital, to Social Finance, to Omidyar Network to Wellington Asset Management.

 

IMPACT CoLAB

The Impact CoLaboratory (Impact CoLab) is a multi-faculty effort to advance knowledge and practice in the rapidly growing field of investing for impact and scaling for impact.

 

Featured Research

  • March 2017
  • Supplement | HBS Case Collection

Microfinance in India 2010-2016: Crisis and Recovery

by Shawn Cole, Vikram Gandhi, Caitlin Reimers and Yannick Saleman
  • March 2017
  • Case

Acumen Fund: Lean Data in 2017

by Shawn A. Cole and Tony L He
  • March 2017
  • Case

SKS Microfinance (Abridged)

by Shawn Cole and Theresa Chen
  • Feb 2017
  • Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series

Why and How Investors Use ESG Information: Evidence from a Global Survey

by Amir Amel-Zadeh and George Serafeim
  • January 2017
  • Case | HBS Case Collection

Vox Capital: Pioneering Impact Investing in Brazil

by Julie Battilana, Marissa Kimsey, Falko Paetzold and Priscilla Zogbi
  • November 2016
  • Accounting Review Article

Corporate Sustainability: First Evidence on Materiality

by Mozaffar Khan, George Serafeim and Aaron Yoon
  • September 2016
  • Case | HBS Case Collection

Pi Investments

by Vikram Gandhi and Tony L. He
  • April 2016
  • Case | HBS Case Collection

Dan Gilbert, Crazy or Crazy Like a Fox?

  • March 2016
  • Technical Note | HBS Case Collection

ESG Metrics: Reshaping Capitalism

by George Serafeim and Jody Grewal
  • Fall 2015
  • Stanford Social Innovation Review

The Payoff of Pay-for-Success

by V. Kasturi Rangan and Lisa Chase
  • Jun 2013
  • Harvard Business Publishing

Venture Philanthropy: Its Evolution & Its Future

by Allen S. Grossman, Sarah Appleby & Caitlin Reimers
Subjects covered include: nonprofit organizations and philanthropies.
  • January 17, 2013
  • Harvard Business Review

Social Impact Investing Will Be the New Venture Capital

by Sir Ronald Cohen and William A. Sahlman

Additional Sources

  • June 2017
  • Stanford Social Innovation Review

Down the Rabbit Hole? Impact Investing and Large Foundations

by Larry Kramer
  • April 2017
  • World Forum

Nice People Doing Bad Deals? Bono creates controversy (video)

by Jeff Skoll & Bono
  • May 2017
  • Global Impact Investing Network

GIIN Impact Investing Report

by Abhilash Mudaliar, Hannah Schiff, Rachel Bass, Hannah Dithrich
  • May 2016
  • Stanford Social Innovation Review

How Impact Investors Actually Measure

by Ivy So & Alina S. Capanyola