A Navigational Guide to Action: What is Practical and Doable Now

SIMA and The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise of Columbia Business School collaborated to arrange the 2019 Impact Investment Forum on November 15, 2019 at MetLife in New York. The event brought together more than 100 institutional investor professionals that are making impact investments or interested in bringing an impact investment program to their institution.

The event, titled ‘Experience and Performance of Pioneer and Seasoned Institutional Investors in the Growing Field of Impact Investing’, included a series of panels attended by various stakeholders of the industry including impact investment firms, institutional investors, and sector representatives from off-grid solar, microfinance, fintech, affordable housing and education.

To make the forum more valuable for the audience, the discussion was based on an exchange of thoughts that catered to the questions and concerns of attendees regarding the investment prospects in the emerging sector. The speakers also highlighted some of the key challenges that prevails in the market because of which institutional investors shy away from investing in the nascent sector. The challenges that were discussed during the session included; need of market standards, standardization of measurement of impact, lack of human capital that understands impact investment and tailored regulatory framework for the sector.

Sector representatives were invited to share their stories and the approach they take to deal with the challenges. Below were the key sector presentations that took place during the forum:

  • Microfinance and Fintech by Camilla Nestor (CEO of MIX) and Sono Khagharani (CEO of Thardeep Microfinance Foundation)
  • Affordable Housing and Community Development by Brian Murray (CEO of Shift Capital) and Merily Rovira (Senior VP of Community Development Trust)
  • Education by Arun Kapoor (Managing Director at SJF Ventures)
  • Off-grid Solar by Ned Tozun (CEO & Founder of d.light)

The last session was facilitated by Mr. Michael Rauenhorst (Managing Partner at SIMA) in which the audience was divided in the working groups to discuss the opportunities and potential path to further develop the impact investment space. The Forum provided a framework for the audience to widen their thinking about their roles and responsibility in business and society as participants of impact investment space while imparting them with the knowledge required to respond to the challenges that prevail in the emerging sector.