Defining the impact finance sector

Reflecting back on when I started working in Innovative Financing back in 2010, I was basically able to make up my own definition of Innovative Finance because there wasn’t a commonly agreed upon one. My definition is:

Innovative financing is an approach to funding enterprises and interventions that create positive social and environmental impact. It looks to use all available financial and philanthropic tools to support the growth of these enterprises and, when the existing tools don’t work, it creates new ones.


Now there are so many examples that I wrote a nearly 400 page book on innovative venture finance last year and am writing a second book now on innovative fund structures!

This is a great example of the dynamism of the Impact Finance space. It is always changing, growing and adapting. When Ashley and I made our way into the space in the late 2000s, the term “impact investing” had just been coined and there were only a handful of players that were actively allocating capital. We both remember early conferences and events where there were only dozens of people in the room and most were interested in the idea versus active investors (or were looking for money!) 

Looking more specifically at this evolution, when I attended the GIIN Investor Forum this year, it was announced that the Impact Investing market is now estimated to be over $1 trillion. What an incredible achievement! 

At the forum, there were over 1,500 investors and many were mainstream investment managers, asset managers and asset owners that were new to impact. One of the key messages in discussions was talent. In fact, on the panel on scale that I moderated, the panelists identified attracting and keeping talent (especially talent with IMM experience) as one of their key challenges. As one pension fund CEO told me, “IMM is the new financial modeling”. With this in mind, we’ll certainly look to create additional resources and events aimed to build your IMM experience over the coming months. 

While this growth is exciting for the market, it can be overwhelming for job seekers to even know where to begin to look. That is one of the reasons we launched Impact Finance Pro. We hope our job board and LinkedIn page are helpful for sourcing new opportunities. There are also a number of fantastic opportunities that make their way to our newsletter

We are constantly developing resources for those looking to transition into the space or refresh their understanding of the landscape.  We have some helpful tools that give you an idea of the size and strength of the impact finance sector.  Check out our Funds Database which gives you access to 1000’s of impact finance funds as you look to find your role in the landscape with a job search tracker.