Impact investing at IFC

For six decades, IFC has been at the forefront of impact investing in emerging markets.

What is Impact Investing?

Impact investing is an approach that aims to contribute to the achievement of measured positive social and environmental impacts. It has emerged as a significant opportunity to mobilize capital into investments that target measurable positive social, economic, or environmental impact alongside financial returns. A growing number of investors are incorporating impact investments into their portfolios. Many are adopting the SDGs and other goals as a reference point to illustrate the relationship between their investments and impact.

The impact investing market is relatively new but is growing rapidly, and is making progress in converging towards common frameworks for managing investments for impact. Some $2.3 trillion of assets have an intent for impact, of which $636 billion of these assets clearly have impact management and measurement processes in place. More than $400 billion is managed in accordance with the Impact Principles, the market standard for how to manage an investment portfolio for impact. Many of these investors use the Joint Impact Indicators to measure and report on progress.

What are the Impact Principles?

IFC—in consultation with a core group of external stakeholders—developed the Operating Principles for Impact Management, which are now followed by over 140 privately and publicly owned funds and institutions. These Principles support the development of the impact investing industry by establishing a common discipline around the management of investments for impact, and promote transparency and credibility by requiring annual disclosures of impact management processes with periodic independent verification

What are the Joint Impact Indicators?

The Joint Impact Indicators are a harmonized set of indicators for key impact themes – climate, gender and job creation – used by a wide range of impact investors. They are aligned with the leading impact indicator sets: IRIS+ and HIPSO.

Operating Principles for Impact Management (Impact Principles)

The Operating Principles for Impact Management provide a reference point against which the impact management systems of funds and institutions may be assessed. They draw on emerging best practices from a range of asset managers, asset owners, asset allocators, and development finance institutions. As a signatory to the Principles, IFC publicly discloses, on an annual basis, the alignment of our impact management systems with the Principles and, at regular intervals, arranges for independent verification of this alignment. The following documents are IFC’s disclosure statement and an independent verification of alignment provided by external auditors.

Assurance Reports

Independent verifier's limited assurance report on the alignment of IFC with the Operating Principles for Impact Management.

Disclosure Statements

Annual updates: Operating Principles for Impact Management

Impact Investing and the SDGs

The adoption of the SDGs and the launch of the Financing for Development agenda in 2015 has given a strong boost to impact investing. The need to achieve SDGs- which will require $5-7 trillion/year of financing - has changed the conversation around impact from project level impacts, often in small social enterprises, to how to achieve impact at scale.

Specifically, the focus on the SDGs has raised the sights of impact investors beyond project-level impacts towards systemic impacts which can move the needle on the SDGs. At the same time, the Financing for Development Agenda for the SDGs has brought a wider range of fund managers and investors to the table, wanting to ensure that their investments are aligned with the SDGs.

As part of the World Bank Group, IFC has two overarching goals—ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity—that are aligned with the SDGs. Through direct investments and advisory services, IFC provides private sector solutions that lay the foundation for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The objective is to support operations that address development challenges at scale, through project-level outcomes as well as market creation. IFC’s Anticipated Impact Measurement and Monitoring framework provides: (a) a systematic and rigorous framework to assess the development impact of investment operations ex-ante, and monitor results ex-post, which has strengthened IFC’s ability to select, design, and adjust projects to maximize impact; (b) a structured approach to assess catalytic market effects that fosters IFC’s strategic mandate to Create Markets and support the Billions to Trillions agenda and (c) an effective way to employ a portfolio approach to balance IFC’s double bottom line and generate development impact through financially sustainable operations.

IFC’s results-measurement framework currently comprises mostly sector-level outcome indicators, including Harmonized Indicators for Private Sector Operations (HIPSO) used by multiple development finance institutions to measure, monitor, and report on development outcomes, including those related to the SDGs.

Opportunities for Investors

  • AMC funds: IFC’s Asset Management Company (AMC) offers investments in IFC equities and debt, and has raised $10 billion across 13 funds since 2009.
  • Equity co-investments, especially in technology investments
  • Syndications
  • MCPP: AMC’s Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program (MCPP) allows institutional investors the opportunity to passively participate in IFC’s future loan portfolio. Through the platform, we leverage IFC’s origination capacity and deep market knowledge to source opportunities for third-party investors to co-lend alongside IFC on commercial terms. Piloting and implementing such co-investment platforms provide a key contribution from development finance institutions such as IFC with a focus on the private sector.
  • IFC bonds: Green bonds and Social bonds