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Impact Investing: Transforming How We Make Money While Making a Difference [Hardcover]

Antony Bugg-Levine , Jed Emerson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 13 2011
A ground-breaking book on the transformative power of impact investing

This is the first book to chart the catalytic path of this new industry, explaining how it is and can be a positive disruptive force. It shows how impact investing is a transformational vehicle for delivering "blended value" throughout the investment spectrum, giving a single name to a set of activities previously siloed in enclaves, revealing how they are linked within what is becoming a new field of investing. Written by two leaders in the growing field of impact investing, the book defines this emerging industry for participants on all sides of the funding equation (investors, funders and social entrepreneurs).

  • Filled with illustrative examples of impact investing success stories
  • Reveals how the field can expand in order to address the most critical social and environmental issues of our day
  • Explores the wide-ranging applications of impact investing as well as entrepreneurial opportunities

The authors do not take a normative approach to argue how investors should behave like an investment guide might but show how entrepreneurial people and institutions are already offering an integrated alternative.


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Product Description

From the Inside Flap

This groundbreaking book charts the path of a new industry, explaining how impact investing is and can be a positive disruptive force. Impact Investing affirms that it is possible and desirable to address social and environmental problems with investments that generate financial profits.

Antony Bugg-Levine and Jed Emerson reveal how impact investing is a transformational vehicle for delivering blended value through investment. The authors—two leaders in the burgeoning field of impact investing—give a name to a set of activities previously siloed in enclaves and reveal how these activities are linked within what is becoming a new and dynamic field.

The authors don't take a normative approach to argue how investors should behave but instead show how entrepreneurial people and institutions are already offering an integrated alternative. Impact Investing defines this emerging industry for all the institutions and people it is affecting (investors, funders, social entrepreneurs, educators, policy makers, and marginalized communities) and showcases illustrative examples of challenges and successes. The book also explores the potential that impact investing holds to tackle the most critical social and environmental issues of our day on a scale never seen before.

Ultimately, Impact Investing offers a fundamentally optimistic vision. This unifying vision illuminates what can be achieved when we capture total blended value, when all our assets work in unison with our values and beliefs.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Impact Investing

"My experience with eBay demonstrated that you can do well by doing good. Impact Investing explores this important idea and provides many examples of the social impact that a for-profit business can ignite." —Pierre Omidyar, founder and chairman, eBay; founding partner, Omidyar Network

"An informative and perceptive insight into the world of impact investment." —Ronald Cohen, cofounder, Apax Partners; chairman, the Portland Trust and Bridges Ventures

"In business schools around the world, impact investing is hot. For all those young professionals and their teachers, Bugg-Levine and Emerson, pioneers of the field, have written a great introduction to the realities of using markets to address society's problems." —Michael Chu, professor, Harvard Business School; cofounder, IGNIA Fund

"An insightful, compelling, and highly readable road map for investors and their wealth managers seeking to achieve blended value. As global thought leaders in impact investing, Bugg-Levine and Emerson share their perspectives and real-life examples of investors and investments achieving a combination of financial and social/environmental returns. It's a must-read for anyone interested in how investment can tackle the world's toughest problems." —Ron D. Cordes, cochairman, Genworth Financial Wealth Management; coauthor, The Art of Investing and Portfolio Management

"Impact investing just might be the game-changer we need in the quest to end poverty. Building on the forces of socially responsible investment, microfinance, and many others, impact investing shows that we can solve many of the world's social problems while making attractive financial returns. This superb book is a clear and compelling guide to any reader who wants to be a part of this powerful new force in development. The book is fresh and accessible, with an eye for metaphor and self-deprecation that is rare and welcome among policy wonks."—Elizabeth Littlefield, president and CEO, Overseas Private Investment Corporation; former CEO, CGAP


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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Read Jan. 2 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you are interested in social enterprise and have some ideas, this is a must read for you. I have started a few ventures in this arena and I wish I had read this a couple years ago.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An overview of impact investing that is both highly informative and an enjoyable read Sept. 15 2011
By Vanessa Cuerel Burbano - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
An insightful, easy-to-digest overview of the burgeoning phenomenon that is impact investing for blended return, described by the authors as "investment strategies that generate financial return while intentionally improving social and environmental conditions." Bugg-Levine and Emerson describe the history and current space of impact investing, noting lessons learned along the way, and identify areas of promise and concern for the future of impact investing.

This is a must-read for current and potential impact investors, social entrepreneurs, the philanthropic community, and policymakers interested in impact investing. I also highly recommend this book to individuals who are simply curious about the topic as it is not only informative, but also an enjoyable read.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A balanced primer on impact investing as an emerging asset class as well as an approach to portfolio management Aug. 30 2011
By Philo Alto / Asia Value Advisors - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A cautiously optimistic book about impact investing both as an (emerging) asset class as well as an approach to portfolio management. It strives to bridge the silos between the social sector practitioners and the financial capital markets players without taking ideological positions for or against each side.

For the finance types, this is not a how-to book on impact investing as it does not focus on the pricing and valuation methodologies, rather it's more of a framework for approaching investing that incorporates social objectives into an entire asset management portfolio.

For the social sector practitioners, it's a great primer to help un-demonize the financial markets' role and its potentially huge contribution to the impact investing space and the social sector, if framed appropriately.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost everything you ever wanted to know about Impact Investing Sept. 5 2011
By Lucy Bernholz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Bugg-Levine and Emerson present a history, a contemporary look, and do some promotional forecasting about impact investing. They credit, appropriately and adequately, the decades of innovation from religious endowments to teachers' pension funds the idea of mixing investing with social returns. The simultaneous pursuit of financial return and social value lie at the heart of the tools now known as impact investing and the outcomes now described as blended value. They also credit the "boundary" systems on either side of Impact Investing - philanthropy and commercial finance. In their words:

"Without philanthropy, modern microfinance would not exist. But without ... integration into the global investment system, microfinance would likely not have exceeded so spectacularly ..." (p. 46)

The closing line of the above paragraph then asks the key question for the entire book: "But at what price?" Emerson and Bugg-Levine tackle the costs and losses that have resulted from the decades of experiments that bring impact investing to this moment. Money has been lost, reputations ruined, lives taken. It has not been a straight line to success and the way forward presents no guarantees. Like any good financial discussion, previous outcomes are no guarantee of future results.

The book comes at in important time for impact investors (and for Emerson and Bugg-Levine themselves, both of whom have just taken on new jobs). SoCAP 11, the fourth annual conference that has become almost synonymous with Impact Investing opens this week in San Francisco. The first SoCAP conference launched one month to the day after the 158 year old Lehman Brothers investment bank went bankrupt. The disarray, panic, and anger from that scary time have raised and ruined political careers, redrawn the global map of economic powerbases, and given rise to bestselling books and award winning movies. They've also opened wider the window of opportunity for new concepts of capitalism, new measures of profit, and more widespread conversations about sustainable enterprise.

Bugg-Levine and Emerson tell this story from the inside. Bugg-Levine led a grantmaking portfolio at The Rockefeller Foundation for several years that poured tens of millions of dollars into the infrastructure of impact investing. Emerson has staffed and consulted to several investor-side enterprises over the years. They present the historical roots of the ideas and give numerous examples from across the globe of the roles and permutations of development finance, microfinance, socially responsible investing and philanthropy that merge, as streams into a river and then as rivers into the sea (a favorite metaphor of theirs). Their direct involvement in building and promoting these tools and values are strong credentials for the two authors - and they tell a good story. There is (thankfully) no glorifying or covering up - people they know made mistakes and experiments went wrong. The authors are emphatic to this point, impact investing is not a silver bullet.

For my purposes, the more interesting section of the book comes in part two - what will the future hold? They address this in two ways - the practical and the predictive. They identify several sectors where impact investing opportunities are likely to grow and offer guidance for interested investors to pursue such opportunities.

(Read the rest of this review at (...)
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Incomplete Book - Misrepresents the entire picture of Impact Investing Oct. 28 2012
By Myles114 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As someone who considers themselves active and engaged in the world of impact investing, I was upset with the lack of tangible information that this book presented. Rather than (what felt like at times in the book) going in circles about the concepts of impact investing and the vision of what the future might hold, I would have found it much more beneficial to dive into the detail and case studies of impact investing from top organizations that are just mentioned in the book like Acumen Fund and Root Capital. I think the details of how these models operated, including their shortcomings, would have been much more beneficial to readers than many concepts the book dwelled on in great detail.

Also, I think the book failed to bring up or provide valuable information about many key aspects of the world of impact investing, such Muhammad Yunus' concept of Social Business which is growing in popularity and the opportunity for a Social Stock Exchange. Perhaps this is because one of the authors was a founder of a very controversial microfinance bank and, from my viewpoint, talking about these topics would go against the values that he believes in which pushed that bank to it's controversial IPO.

Additionally, I believe there were some misstated or under-explained parts of the book which, for me, took away its ability to be a valuable collection of information that I would recommend to my friends interested in this space. One example is that there is a reference in the book that Muhammad Yunus is a supporter of non-profit microfinance, when his for-profit bank (Grameen Bank in Bangladesh) is perhaps the most famous microfinance bank in the world. Also, the author talks lightly about the controversy around the investors in Comportamos and SKS gaining massive amounts of wealth in their IPO's, but doesn't talk about the details of the controversy - such as the interest rates of Comportamos that led to it's profit margins (80-100%) and the cruel collection methods of SKS that contributed to it's rapid expansion, many suicides, and (in part) the Indian microcredit bubble. I can't help but think that the authors left this information out on purpose to present a particular image of impact investing which doesn't accurately represent the entire space.

Lastly - as someone who does have enough wealth to be identified as an "accredited investor," I would have liked to learn more about the current landscape and future potential of retail-level impact investments.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The De-mystification of Impact Investing Dec 12 2011
By Roger Frank - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Emerson and Bugg-Levine have done a great job in de-mystifying impact investing. Their book provides a clear, concise and articulate roadmap for understanding this nascent field. With humor, style and insight, they take the reader from "the confines of established routines and secure homes" and provide a clear roadmap to a place with "building structures of beauty that could not have been imagined".

Impact investing is complicated. It is also essential, given the magnitude of the issues the world is facing and the relatively limited resources of philanthropic capital. Their comprehensive overview with clear examples and their direct, candid approach, not only provides the reader with a sense of the opportunities and challenges, it also creates a sense of excitement and possibility of the potential for impact investing in challenging our current investment paradigms.

Clearly, the capital markets as we know them have some extraordinary challenges The authors make a very compelling argument that there is an increasingly important place for impact investing and innovative approaches to finance which impact investing represents. In short, this book is a very compelling read which I highly recommend.
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