Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
Philanthropists the world over have been inspired by this simple but powerful statement, and have evolved from undertaking traditional notions of charity to philanthropy and now more recently, towards impact investing.
Impact investing bridges the gap between pure charity and donations for social, environmental and other causes, and pure investment aimed only at financial gain. As the world and, in particular, India, braces itself to battle increasing demand but diminishing resources, the deployment of monies in a manner that helps solve societal problems and conserve resources is not a luxury, but an urgent necessity.
Impact investing is an idea whose day has come. Mahatma Gandhi believed that the rich should be custodians of their wealth for the benefit of society, leading to a more egalitarian world. In this article, we explore why Indian family offices – being custodians of family wealth – should embrace impact investing that embodies this Gandhian philosophy. In doing so, they will not only contribute to society but also extend family legacies beyond the board room.
The World Economic Forum describes impact investing as an approach that intentionally seeks to create both financial return as well as positive social and/or environmental impacts that are actively measured. The term is often used narrowly as an asset class, but, in fact, it represents an investment approach or philosophy by which investments are made across asset classes. Such asset classes include venture capital and private equity, social impact bonds, municipal bonds, real estate and contribution to social venture funds.