Three years after Amit Bouri’s birth in Northern California, his parents divorced. His mother returned to school to study accounting. She and her son would be on public assistance for the next six years, until she finished her degree and started her career. Bouri’s social conscience, and his awareness of the value of a social safety net, date back to those days. Now, the former strategic consultant runs the Global Impact Investing Network, an organization of investors seeking to achieve social and environmental impact as well as competitive returns. Some excerpts from our conversation with Bouri, 40, about the landscape for impact investing:
Q: What exactly are impact investments? A: They’re investments made in funds, companies, or projects with the intention of generating a positive social or environmental impact alongside a financial return. The investments can be in any range of sectors and across asset classes, around the world.
Q: What kinds of returns are we talking about? A: Over 90% of impact investors are either meeting or exceeding their financial-return expectations. It’s not an act of charity or philanthropy, but rather a strategy that belongs in an individual or a firm’s investment portfolio.
Q: So many big firms have created impact funds lately. Why? A: Large institutional investors, as well as individual clients, are seeking opportunities to put their capital to work to build a more sustainable world. …The Paris Climate Accord of 2015 was very successful in gathering private-sector interest in managing climate risk and opportunities to invest in a sustainable energy economy. The adoption of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals drove a lot of interest among CIOs and CEOs of major institutional investors and asset managers.
In a generation, impact investing will be widespread, and it will be business as usual to think about impact across your investment portfolio, from the largest institutions to everyday individuals who want to ensure they have the money to retire—but also to invest in the world they want to retire in.